Welcome to the Types of Carriers series! Be sure to check out the Types of Carriers post from a couple of weeks ago to learn about all of the classes of carriers.
Simple Piece of Cloth (sometimes abbreviated to SPOC)
Included in this type of carrier are stretchy wraps, gauze wraps, hybrid wraps, and woven wraps. Each are a simple piece of cloth made out of natural fibers (including cotton, linen, sometimes wool) or in the case of stretchy wraps and hybrid cotton blended with Lycra to give it the stretch characteristic of the type of wrap.
- Stretchy Wrap
Sorry for the darker image but I really wanted to share this one. This is me wearing my second son when he was just a few weeks old in my Organic Sleepy Wrap (now Boba Wrap). Stretchy wraps are blended with Lycra and are very stretchy. Stretch does vary a bit by brand. The most popular brands of stretchy wraps are Moby and Boba. They offer a lot of colors and even prints. They are cuddly for newborns but must be wrapped tightly without leaving room to put your baby in. You have to prewrap before putting your baby in so you have to put baby down in a safe place to wrap. You can prewrap before going out for the day though and pop baby in when you get to your destination. These wraps are limited to wearing on your front and possibly to your hip. They do not support the spread squat positioning well past about 10-15 lbs depending on the baby. They are a great way to try out babywearing though! You can DIY (make your own) with good quality fabric, though often these are VERY stretchy. These may be a little warmer in the summer (feel much like a blanket) but many parents still enjoy these carriers in the summer.
- Gauze Wraps
Gauze wraps are very lightweight and nice for summer. They are made of a lightweight cotton. Because they are lightweight though, many parents and caregivers find that even if they wrap very carefully they are quite pinchy on the shoulders once your baby/toddler hits about 20-25 lbs. These are great for front, back, or hip carries though. They wrap differently than wovens so you may have to order a slightly different size in a gauze wrap than you do with a woven. I am typically a 4.6 m (size 6) for my base size in a woven wrap but I need extra length in a gauze wrap to do carries that use most of the wrap like the double hammock wrap as shown above. You can DIY with the right materials but the materials are outside of the scope of this post.
- Hybrid Wraps
Hybrid wraps feature one way stretch rather than two way stretch. There are a few different brands available of these. The picture below shows me wrapping my oldest when he was 5 for a quick minute. They are best for babies under 20-25 lbs because over that weight the wrap will start to sag even if you wrap very carefully so you may need to adjyst it often. These are excellent for newborns. One con though is that the material is similar to that of many stretchy t-shirts so when back wrapping it may be hard to feel the fabric.
- Woven Wraps (German Style Woven Wraps)
Woven wraps are the gold standard of SPOC. They are a bit more expensive at first but you can typically find a good used one for around $100 or less. They have a little bit of a learning curve so I recommend getting hand on help because once you know how they are supposed to feel you will always get it right. Woven wraps can be wrapped an infinite number of ways. They can be worn with baby on your front, back, or hip. They are the most supportive of the classes of wrap carriers and are excellent from birth to as long as you want to wear your child.
There are many lengths available because wrapping with just one layer over baby is fine (and supportive). I recommend starting with your “base” size which is what you can comfortably wrap a Front Wrap Cross Carry (FWCC) with. Shorter lengths (just doing one layer over baby) can be great in the summer depending on the fabric. There are many different blends of fabrics available. I recommend starting with a cotton one or a cotton/linen blend. Cotton is the easiest to care for and can be dried in the drier (though it may shrink a little so hang drying is better-try putting it between the backs of two chairs and often it will dry overnight).
Woven wraps can be found at all types of price points. There are many brands of good quality wraps available. There are many color options and many options for patterns, stripes, or just a plain color. Many can be dyed if you don’t like the color (you will want to use baby-safe dyes because baby WILL chew on the wrap). I recommend new wrappers to look in to getting a used wrap because new wraps in all fabrics usually feel stiff. Wraps need a breaking in period to be able to wrap well with them. If you buy used, many times this wrap is already broken in but has a lot of life left in it. New wrappers can break in wraps but do know that it may take time before you can wrap the same way you did with your Certified Babywearing Educator (or at your babywearing group).
- Kanga Carrier (not pictured)
A Kanga Carrier is a Traditional African carrier using a thin blanket looking piece of fabric. Baby is worn on the back in the small of mother’s back. If you would like to see one in action I really love this video by Alyssa. These are beautiful traditional carriers. I do have one in my stash but I am not nearly as well versed with these as women that traditionally use them.
*For full disclosure I am a Boba Ambassador. I became a Boba Ambassador because I love their products. They send me free products to review from time to time but I do not receive any other compensation from them. I like to offer my honest opinion and free products do not influence my views*
What is your favorite type of wrap?