At both of our stores, we frequently see parents with brand new (days-old!) babies in the market for a sling. We offer lots of suitable options, but our hands-down favourite is the cotton stretchy wrap. Cotton stretchy wraps provide great support to new babies with low muscle tone. Since a cotton stretchy wrap is a two-shouldered carrier, it is comfortable for the user, it spreads the weight of the baby evenly across the user's back and shoulders. Cotton stretchy wraps are one-size-fits-all carriers, the length of the carrier ensures it will fit any build; petite users simply wrap the tails around their waist 1-2 more times than larger users.
We sell two brands of cotton stretchy wraps, the CuddlyWrap and the Sleepy Wrap. Upon first glance, they appear quite similar: they are both long pieces of cotton fabric, serged at the edges, and tapered towards the end. Both slings have a logo sewn into the middle of the carrier, a marker that enables the user to position the wrap properly when they start tying the carrier on. So how are they different?
For starters, if you feel both carriers, you'll notice an immediate difference in the weight of the fabric. The CuddlyWrap is comprised of a single-layer of organic cotton jersey, it feels quite thin, but don't worry, it's still very supportive. The Sleepy Wrap, on the other hand, is a heavier weight cotton/spandex jersey. Regardless of the weight of the fabric, parents always ask "How hot is it to wear?", assuming that a wrap will be hot. Truth is, wearing a baby in any carrier will be warm, you've got a little heater (the baby!) strapped to you. Grace was born in early June, and we lived in the Sleepy Wrap all summer, I simply dressed her appropriately (one layer less than I would normally put her in). With a smaller baby, you can wear the carrier without the middle piece pulled over the baby, reducing the number of layers of fabric wrapped over the baby.
The slight variation in fabric actually makes a world of difference in term of how the carriers feel. Although it is still stretchy, the CuddlyWrap has considerably less give than the Sleepy Wrap. When you are tying on the Cuddly Wrap, you have to leave a little slack to get the baby in. Due to the small amount of spandex in the Sleepy Wrap, you begin by tying the wrap so that it is snug (clinging to you!).
When I first started using the Sleepy Wrap, I made the mistake of tying it like the CuddlyWrap, leaving a little slack to fit the baby in. The first few times I used it, she was *very* saggy, to the point the carrier felt unsafe... Then I read the instructions and realized I was using the carrier incorrectly. I tied it tighter, and voila! Loved it! The stretch of the Sleepy Wrap made it very easy to nurse in without having to adjust the carrier or remove Grace. I simply fanned out the shoulders, took the middle piece down (if we had it up), and pulled her down in front of the breast (nursing her in an upright position).
The cotton/spandex blend of the Sleepy Wrap also makes it easier to wear without a baby. With any stretchy wrap, you can remove the baby from the carrier simply by spreading apart the 'V' in the front of the carrier and lifting the baby out under her arms. A wrap comprised of 100% cotton, like the CuddlyWrap, will shift without a baby in it, pieces will tighten and sag, you will likely have to re-tie it after a period of time. The Sleepy Wrap, on the other hand, retains its shape, so you can wear it for hours on end without a baby in it, and it will not have to be readjusted -- excellent poppability (the act of popping your baby in and out of the carrier -- it's a technical term!).
Both manufacturers advertise their carriers as accommodating children who weigh up to 35 lbs, however, we always tell customers that 20 lbs is more realistic (you will comfortably get 6 months of use out of a cotton stretchy wrap). As a baby gets heavier, the stretch of the fabric will result in sagging. Sagging aside, from a practical standpoint, as your baby grows, you will likely find it more convenient to carry her on your hip, or on your back. Cotton stretchy carriers are really one-trick ponies, they do great front carries, but we don't recommend them for hip or back carries, due to the fact the fabric has give -- if you're wearing your baby on your back, you want her to be secure!
The makers of the Sleepy Wrap recently introduced their own version of a Soft Structured Carrier, the idea being that you transition from the Sleepy Wrap to the Boba carrier. We offer a $10.00 credit to customers who have purchasd a Sleepy Wrap that can be used towards the purchase of a Boba carrier, which is a great back carrier.
Cotton stretchy wraps are reasonably priced, the Sleepy Wrap retails for $50.00, the CuddlyWrap comes in at $75.00, since it's organic, and made in Canada (Sleepy Wrap carriers are made in China, though the Boba carrier is manufactured in the USA). A lot of parents are initially turned off by the appearance of wrap carriers when they see how long they are, but once they have it tied on, and their baby is nestled against them, they come around.
Cotton stretchy wraps are a wonderful introduction into the world of babywearing, your baby was carried for nine months in your womb, it's only natural that she's going to want to stay close to you in those first few months -- rather than lamenting 'how much' your baby wants to be held, enjoy it while it lasts, it's a wonderful time. On Saturday, October 24th, receive a free pair of instock Babylegs with every CuddlyWrap or Sleepy Wrap purchase.