What is a stretchy wrap
Stretchy wraps can be hugely helpful for babies in the fourth trimester. Whilst the fourth trimester is a relatively short period, it is a crucial one for parents and babies.
As babies develop they may begin to prefer carries that allow them to look around and engage with the world. For example, you could try seated sideways or a hip carry in your stretchy wrap. On the other hand, many parents move on to other slings carriers, or no longer carry, at the end of the fourth trimester. We offer the CalmFamily free stretchy wrap hire scheme to help families have affordable access to these slings in the newborn period.
Stretch and elasticity
The stretch of a fabric is how far you can pull it out or stretch it. Whereas the elasticity is how well it springs back to shape. An inelastic stretchy fabric will sag and not support the baby’s weight well. Highly elastic stretchy wraps are more supportive for longer periods and for heavier weights.
Basic ways to use a stretchy wrap?
Stretchy wraps can be used in many ways but the popular and simple ways begin with what we all call a “pre-tie”. In other words, you tie the stretchy wrap before putting your baby into the already secured carrier. This is really easy and quick to do once you get the hang of it.
This video shows how to do this pre-tie stage.
The most common carry (Pocket wrap cross carry)
The pocket wrap cross carry is the carry most commonly suggested by manufacturers. In this carry the baby is supported by a cross of fabric between their legs, which is spread from knee to knee and across their back. A third layer adds support and holds these crossed passes securely in place
This video demonstrates putting a baby into the pre-tied wrap in a pocket wrap cross carry position..
Variation ideal for newborns (Pocket wrap double hammock)
A variation that is optimal for small and premature babies who retain the curled up foetal position is the pocket wrap double hammock.
In this variation the fabric does not pass between the legs but supports the bottom and spine , and allowing their knees to come up between carer and baby in the foetal position. This can be more comfortable as avoids forcing their legs further open than they are developmentally ready for.
Advantages of stretchy wraps
- They can be pre-tied and left on all day, so there should be little need to adjust or retie between uses
- Quick to get baby in and out
- They are suitable from birth and can often be used from low birth weights, although it may be worth seeking in person advice for very low birth weight or premature babies to ensure you are aware of all safety implications
- Easy to wash and dry. They can be machine washed, but please do read our guidelines to washing slings safely first.
- Easy to both breastfeed and bottle feed in
- Relatively inexpensive, so a good option for parents who want to carry small babies, but are not sure they want to carry into toddler-hood so are not looking to spend a lot of money
- You can even use them for carrying twins!
Disadvantages of stretchy wraps
- They are often most suitable until 6 months
- Some of them can be quite warm in summer
- A long length of fabric can look daunting when first learning to tie.
- Long tails of fabric could cause a trip hazard so need to be safely tied out of the way. We offer short wraps to reduce this issue for petite people.
- Because they are simple pieces of fabric there are many cheap brands. Some of these make excellent slings, however, others may not be weight tested, may use non baby-safe dyes, and which may have less strong elasticity. For this reason we would recommend going with a reputable brand of stretchy wraps.
Types of stretchy wrap
One way and two way
A one way stretchy wrap stretches along the width of the fabric, but not along the length.
When using a one way stretchy you either have to leave exactly enough slack to get the baby in but not so much that they sag in the carrier, tighten once baby is in, or wrap around the baby. This makes loose and unsupportive carries much more likely. This can be uncomfortable, and even dangerous, their airways can become compromised. It takes more skill and judgment to get a safe supportive carry in a one way wrap, but it is absolutely possible.
A two way stretchy wrap stretches along both the length and the width. This makes a pre-tied carry easier and safer, because it is easier to avoid slack that could allow the baby to slump. With a two way stretchy wrap you tie the fabric tight to your body and use its stretch along the length to fit the baby in, the fabric then pulls back to original length and shape, and molds around the baby supporting them all over.
We only retail two way stretchy wraps because we find that many people who come to us with one-way wraps struggle to use them, and end up looking for other options, such as a two way version, or another type of carrier.
Different materials and the impact of these
Cotton is a breathable fabric, but can still be quite warm when you have three layers over you and your baby.
Bamboo has slightly cooler properties than cotton, it can feel a little softer and sometimes more slippery.
Very lightweight and cool, mesh has lots of tiny holes so it lets heat out and a cool breeze in.
Stretchy wrap product comparison
|Variable||Lifft||JPMBB Basic||JPMBB Original||Boba||Boba Bamboo||Sling school|
|Material||94% Cotton 6% Elastane||95% Cotton|
|95% Cotton 5% Elastene||95% Cotton 5% Spandex||66.5% Bamboo, 28.5% Cotton, 5% Spandex||94% cotton 6% lycra|
|Colour palette||Jewel tones||Urban||Urban with contrasting pockets||Brights||Brights||Small range|
|Contrasted colour edging||Yes||No||No||No||No||No|
|Fabric||Cotton Jersey||French Terry||Knitted cotton Jersey||French Terry||French Terry with Bamboo||Cotton Jersey|
|Middle-marker||Large sewn label||Small sewn label||Pocket and small sewn in label||Small tag on one edge||Small tag on one edge||Choice of printed marker|
Try one of CalmFamily's stretchy wraps
More details on stretchy wrap use
Stretchy wrap passes
This video demonstrates the difference between cross passes, hammock passes and horizontal passes.
Putting twins in a stretchy wraps
Di you know that you can carry twins in a stretchy wrap? This video demonstrates how.
Seated sideways in a stretchy wrap
Seated sideways positions can help older babies see more and remain happy in a stretchy wrap, they can also help to reduce pressure on the stomach which some babies with gastrointestinal issues may find more comfy, and they can be sued to increase the amount of eye contact that the carrying person and the baby can maintain.
Check out our YouTube channel for more helpful carrying videos