Lots of people start out with a Stretchy Wrap when they’re just beginning their babywearing journey – I did! Part of this is because Stretchy Wraps are great for newborns, but it’s mostly because they’re available in big box stores. If you’re considering a Stretchy Wrap, whether it’s your first carrier or your 5th, you’ll find everything you need to know about them (what they are, how to use them, brands to try, etc) in this Ultimate Guide to Stretchy Wraps.
What is a Stretchy Wrap?
A Stretchy Wrap is basically just one long piece of fabric – usually 100% cotton, but you can find some that are cotton/spandex blends. Just like the name implies, the fabric is stretchy. This makes them easy to maneuver, learn with, and get a really snug carry with your baby. On the downside – they’re not typically good for older/heavier babies since the fabric can stretch too much with their weight.
An important thing to consider when buying a Stretchy Wrap is how much it stretches and how elastic it is. Some wraps are made to only stretch in one direction (horizontally or vertically), while others will stretch in 3 directions (horizontally, vertically and diagonally). And it sounds backwards, but a wrap that stretches in all 3 directions will be more supportive for carrying older babies.
The elasticity of a Stretchy Wrap refers to it’s ability to go back to the same size/shape once it’s been stretched. You definitely want a Stretchy Wrap that has some elasticity to it – otherwise it will stretch out too much and won’t be supportive. Stretchy Wraps with more elasticity than others will be better for bigger babies – so it’s something to consider if you plan on using your Stretchy Wrap passed the newborn period.
What are some Pros and Cons of Stretchy Wraps?
- Use from Birth – Stretchy Wraps are GREAT for the newborn stage. They’re soft, provide a secure snug hold, and make your little bitty baby feel just like they’re in the womb – close to you and hearing your heartbeat.
- Kangaroo Care for Preemies – Stretchy Wraps are the carrier of choice for premature babies. They allow you to get the perfect fit to keep that baby close to you in order to thrive.
- Twins – You can safely wear twins in ONE Stretchy Wrap.
- Comfort – Stretchy Wraps are soft and comfortable. The weight of your baby is distributed on both of your shoulders which makes for a very comfortable carry that you can do for extended lengths of time.
- Easy to Learn – There’s basically just one carry that you need to learn to be able to use a Stretchy Wrap – the Pocket Wrap Cross Carry (PWCC). Each brand has a different name for it, but it’s basically all the same. The PWCC can be pre-tied, so you can put it on, drive to where you need to go, and then put your baby in when you get there – without having the wrap drag on the ground. Hip Carries can also be done with older babies.
- Breastfeeding – You can securely and discreetly nurse in a Stretchy Wrap.
- Long – Although each brand differs in length, many people are intimidated by all the fabric.
- Thick – Again, each brand will differ in density and thickness, but in general, Stretchy Wraps are pretty thick. This means that they may not be as great during the summer months if you live somewhere really warm.
- Not Supportive for Older Babies – Most Stretchy Wraps will only last until your baby is about 20 pounds despite what the brand says on their weight range. The exception to this are Stretchy Wrap Hybrids – part stretchy/part woven wrap like the Wrapsody Bali Stretch and the Je Porte Mama Bebe. You can also wash your Stretchy Wrap to help return it to it’s original shape to help support larger babies.
- No Back Carries – Stretchy Wraps can NEVER be used to carry your baby on your back. Because the fabric is stretchy – your baby could possibly fall out. The exception to this are Stretchy Wrap Hybrids (see above). Many brands used to recommend back carries with stretchy wraps and even included instructions for doing so. This is not acceptable anymore and those instructions have been removed.
How Can I be Safe while Using a Stretchy Wrap?
As with all types of carriers, it’s important to follow some safety guidelines. For a complete discussion on safety please refer to this post. You always want to make sure you are following the TICKS safety rules.
Although most brands only recommend a front facing-in carry, there are some brands that include instructions on how to do cradle, forward facing-out, and back carries using a Stretchy Wrap. I wouldn’t recommend these types of carries in a Stretchy Wrap unless you are using a hybrid carrier discussed above. The cradle carry in a Stretchy Wrap can be especially difficult to keep your baby’s chin off their chest, forward facing-out doesn’t provide enough leg support in a Stretchy Wrap, and back carries are not safe to use with a Stretchy Wrap due to fall precautions.
Can I Make my Own Stretchy Wrap?
You can make your own Stretchy Wrap by going to the fabric store! You’ll want to look for a material like stretch cotton or jersey knit. You’ll need to purchase between 4 and 5 yards depending on your size and then cut your width down to between 25-30 inches. And that’s basically it! You can taper the ends if you’d like but you don’t need to. And you don’t even need to sew the edges. Most stretch fabrics won’t fray.
What are the Different Brands of Stretchy Wraps?
There are lots of different brands of Stretchy Wraps and I’m sure I don’t know them all. Here are the ones I’m aware of with a little bit of info on each one so you can decide if it’s the right Stretchy Wrap for you. If I’ve used it before then I’ve also included my personal thoughts.
- Boba Wrap (formerly Sleepy Wrap): 95% cotton and 5% spandex. It’s described as a french terry material that will hold up to 35 lbs. Lots of colors, prints, and organic options. Has instructions for a Newborn Hold and a “Love Your Baby” Hold – both of which are just the Pocket Wrap Cross Carry. This is probably my favorite out of the ones I’ve tried. It’s supportive, has a little bit of elasticity, and isn’t too thick that you get overheated.
- Moby Wrap: 100% natural cotton. Holds up to 35 lbs. Lots of colors, prints, and organic options. Moby also has a wrap with SPF 50. They give instructions for a Newborn Hug Hold, Hug Hold, Hip Hold, and Kangaroo Hold. If you’re familiar with woven wraps, you’ll know these carries by Pocket Wrap Cross Carry, Hip Cross Carry, and Front Wrap Cross Carry. I find the Moby to be supportive, but it’s very thick and too hot for summer use.
- SnuggyBaby Baby Wrap: Made from a 100% cotton knit fabric that will hold up to 35 lbs. Lots of color and print options. They give instructions for the Pocket Wrap Cross Carry and the Front Wrap Cross Carry. This wrap feels almost like a woven wrap and is quite supportive with a medium thickness.
- Hoppediz Elastic Baby Sling: 96% cotton and 4% spandex. Comes in 2 different length sizes. Will hold up to 20 lbs. Lots of color and print options. Instructions are given for a Tummy to Tummy hold, which like above – is the Pocket Wrap Cross Carry. Reminds me a lot of the Moby. It’s okay on support and is quite thick.
- Calin Bleu Stretchy Wrap: Made from 100% micro fleece and holds up to 26 lbs. A few color and organic options. Gives instructions for the Pocket Wrap Cross Carry, Front Cross Carry, Simple Cross Carry (or Front Cross Carry), Hip Wrap (Hip Cross Carry), and a Back Wrap with Chest Knot – although I wouldn’t recommend a back carry with this wrap.
- Wrapsody Bali Stretch: A Hybrid Stretchy Wrap made from 100% cotton. Will hold up to 35 lbs. in front, hip, and back carriers. It is safe to do back carries with this wrap as it’s very supportive. Lots of beautiful prints to choose from. Includes a long list of carry instructions.
- Je Porte Mama Bebe (JPMBB): A Hybrid Stretchy Wrap made from 95% cotton and 5% spandex. Their particular material is supportive and allows you to do front, hip, and back carries. Lots of colors to choose from in 2 different lengths. Lots of instructions for different carry positions – although I wouldn’t recommend the cradle carry.
- Baby K’Tan: This isn’t specifically a Stretchy Wrap, but it’s made to look like one once it’s on. It has 2 loops of fabric that are attached by a band and then a separate sash. It’s made from 100% cotton knit fabric that will hold up to 35 lbs. Lots of colors to choose from. Has instructions for lots of positions including one that faces baby out – which I wouldn’t recommend.
There are plenty more on the market, but those are the only ones that I’m familiar with. I’ll add more to the list when I come across them.
How do I Use a Stretchy Wrap?
Although each brand refers to their carry differently, they’re all Pocket Wrap Cross Carries. We will focus on this and the Hip Wrap Cross Carry, and leave some of the other variations for when we discuss Woven Wraps, since that’s where they’re more commonly used.
A photo and video tutorial will be coming shortly for the carries listed below.
Pocket Wrap Cross Carry
Hip Wrap Cross Carry
Breastfeeding in your Stretchy Wrap