When I was pregnant, I spent a lot of time researching babywearing. I didn’t have a lot of money to spend, and I wanted to get the most bang for my buck. A few sites suggested that of the different types of ergonomic babycarriers, most experienced babywearers preferred woven wraps. I decided that I had better just start off with the best, so I started checking out wovens. A few minutes later my pocketbook started reeling. Then I read about gauze wraps as a budget alternative to wovens. As I was having a summer baby, this seemed like an ideal carrier. I shopped around and finally decided on a Babyette gauze wrap. Beth was great to work with and though she didn’t have the colour I wanted in stock, she was patient and suggested that I might like some of the colours that she was getting in soon. I picked out a light summery lime green. When I received my wrap, we started practicing right away so we wouldn’t fumble the baby. A sack of rice, potatoes, or in our case, flower bulbs is a pretty good practice baby.
|Babyette Lime Green Gauze 4.6m; First time wrapping my son at 5 days old. I know it's nothing amazing for a newborn, but he slept in it for 3 hours as we walked to the grocery store to do some shopping and visited some neighbours.|
Still before I gave birth, I made an impulse buy of a Bathing Buddies mesh pouch sling I found on sale at Kiddytown. Although it was XS, it was quite a bit larger than my idea of XS, and was too big for both my husband and I. We laced a shoelace through the holes to tighten it, which worked surprisingly well.
Once I gave birth and the summer hit us full force, I found that my gauze wrap, although perfectly suiting my needs, got pretty smelly from all the sweat summer babywearing generates. While it was in the wash every other day, I didn’t have another wrap to use! I had convinced my friend about Babyette, so we both got one and split the shipping. My second Babyette gauze wrap was indigo blue with orange rails. It was a great colour and eventually became my primary carrier, since it was a little wider and lime green doesn’t always go with your wardrobe choice. Having two carriers is ideal for heavy-duty summer wearing, and WAHM gauze is very affordable, so it’s not a major investment; each wrap was around $40 plus shipping.
|Babyette Indigo Blue Gauze with Orange Rails, 5m. |
The perfect wrap for over or under winter clothes and a great colour with jeans.
Fast forward through several months of happy gauze wrap use, to the next summer. At 1+ years, I still carried my son in my gauze wrap for 1.5-2 hours a day, but it started to get pretty diggy on my shoulders when he passed the 20lbs mark. That summer my husband found out about a work trip he would be going on for 5 weeks in the fall, and as I didn’t want to be a single parent for 5 weeks with no family in the province, he got permission for me to accompany him (paying my own way, of course). I started looking for a carrier to replace the gauze wraps, and in preparation of the trip started looking at carriers that would be easy to do some mum-and-baby sightseeing in. After trying on every framed pack, SSC and mei tai I could find in Ottawa and turning them all down, I found the Ottawa Babywearing Group online and went to my first meetup. I tried on a woven wrap for the first time and I realized that I really should have just started with the best from the start! I decided to finally invest some money and purchase a woven wrap, so I purchased a nearly-new Girasol Amitola Azarfan size 6 off the Babywearing Swap. It was a great intro to wovens, and it made the trip to Japan and Beijing a pleasure as I was wearing my 23lbs son for several hours a day.
|Girasol Amitola Azarfan size 6. Benefit of rainbow wraps? They go with everything! |
Downside: you are a giant walking rainbow...good luck blending in to a crowd.
When I purchased the Girasol, I did so knowing that it is often considered a beginner wrap, as it is 100% cotton, fairly inexpensive and not considered to be very supportive for carrying toddlers. A few months after I started using it, I was ready to move on to something a little more substantial (and something a little less conspicuous). I posted looking for a temporary trade on the Trans-Canada Babywearing facebook group and also put my name down for a week borrowing a travelling wrap (size 7 Natibaby linen blend Fabula Hungarica Purple). Maybe it was just that the Natibaby wasn’t broken in yet, but I didn’t really like the wrapping qualities much, although they are reputed to be very sturdy wraps due to their density.
|Natibaby linen blend Fabula Hungarica Purple size 7. I wonder if I'd like it more now?|
I decided based on reviews what my small “ideal stash” would contain and started looking for a size 6 Didymos hemp blend indio to replace my Girasol Amitola. I found a used Didymos size 6 Petrol Hemp Indio (PHI) for a decent price on the swap and went for it. (FWIW, the other half of my “ideal stash” at that point was a size 4 Diva Milano linen blend—I still haven’t even actually tried a Diva Milano, but I still keep browsing them on the swap).
While I was waiting for the PHI to show up in the mail, I sent my Girasol Amitola out on a temporary trade with another Ottawa Babywearing Group member. The wrap I got in exchange was a Didymos size 4 “Blaze” linen blend indio. At first glance, I didn’t think much of the colour, but after wrapping with it once, I was in love (and looking in the mirror I changed my mind on the colour). I chatted with the owner about possibly buying it. She didn’t have it listed for sale, but wasn’t in love with it and wanted to sell eventually. I wasn’t certain that I wanted to buy it, with a new wrap on the way on a tight income. I thought I’d give it a shot though, so I listed my Girasol for sale on the OBG facebook group and within the day found a local buyer. We treated it as a three-way trade and I never saw the money or the Girasol again, but haven’t let the linen indio out of my sight since.
|Didymos Blaze/Glut Linen blend Indio size 4. |
This wrap has gotten a lot of play in 2013, the closest thing to a
beater wrap that I have (since everything here takes a beating!)
The Didymos Petrol Hemp Indio turned out to be a great decision and I think it may end up being a heritage wrap I will pass down to my son. Although I don’t necessarily love it the best of all the wraps and I certainly don't use it as much as my shorter wraps, it’s a classic pattern, a great fibre blend that is easily laundered and soft and squishy, the loose weave means it is easy to wrap with, and the size is a great size to allow a lot of people to use it. Oh yes, and my son's favourite colour is definitely blue, so when I let him pick which wrap colour we're using he often picks the blue one.
|Didymos Petrol Hemp Indio size 6. Our potential heritage wrap.|
I felt pretty stashified for a few months, and honestly, 2 wraps should be enough for most needs. I was curious about size 2 though, so I mentioned it to an OBG member at a meetup and she immediately handed over a brand new Didymos Orient size 2 to test out and break in. I had been ogling Orient since it was released, and was pretty pleased with the idea of trying it out. I had it for a month and it broke in beautifully; fluffy and squishy and oh-so-buttery-soft. I loved the size as well, but it just didn’t feel quite right, so it finally went back to its owner, who had been trying with no luck to sell it for most of the time I had it. I had a wrap’s worth of extra money burning a hole in my pocket (I sold my stroller—don’t tell my mom!), so I decided to get a size 2 of my own, and bought a Linuschka Anthracite Dahlia size 6 to chop.
|Didymos Orient size 2. I had a lot of fun learning how to make use of this awesome size and breaking this wrap into a smooshy cottony dream.|
When I received the Linuschka, it was a bit of a downer. It’s a beautiful pattern, but it just wasn’t what I expected from a 100% linen wrap. I had tried one at an OBG meetup several months before and it was totally different. I chopped it anyways and sold the short portion locally, keeping a 2.9m size 2 for myself. I waffled for a little while on it, because it was hard to let go of such a pretty pattern, but functionality really is the most important thing, so I sold it after only a few weeks. It’s a shame that there weren’t more reviews online that I could read
beforehand; I wrote a review of it so you can decide for yourself if it will suit your needs.
| Linuschka Anthracite Dahlia size 6 (chopped to a size 2 and a 1.7m super-shorty) |
Isn't it a beautiful pattern? It doesn't look as great with the shlubby around the house sweater, but dresses up nicely and goes perfectly with jeans.
While I was trying my best to really love the Linuschka, I borrowed a size 3 Didymos Cherry Blossoms linen blend, and a short size 4 Oscha 100% linen grad (thinking I might purchase one of the two as a replacement for the Linuschka).
|Didymos Cherry Blossoms size 3. Pretty wrap, but I wish the pattern were more pronounced.|
It was nice to have the three at the same time to compare, but I wish I had spaced it out a little more as I felt the wraps were really competing for my attention and I couldn’t try any of them out as much as I wanted.
|Oscha Rich Apple 100% linen grad size 4. I was frustrated by this short size 4 because I couldn't do my usual size 4 carries with it and had to resort to my size 2-3 carries, with long tails. But, it's a rock solid carrier even with shorty carries!|
The wraps went back to their respective owners and I decided to purchase a new LewLewBelle 100% linen grad, since they are much more readily available than Oscha and I wasn’t interested in stalking for the perfect colour to come up. I lucked out that the colour I wanted was in stock on the LewLewBelle website, so I bought a Noir Ombre on natural linen size 8, again with the intent to chop.
While I was waiting for the LewLewBelle to arrive, I convinced myself to buy another new wrap (it’s a really slippery slope folks!). I wanted a heavy duty size 4 wrap to eventually replace the size 4 linen indio, which is a very thin wrap. Since we no longer have a stroller, I figured that we have to think long term, as in only a few short years a 2 year old becomes a preschooler who still gets tired after a full day of sightseeing. I was eyeing up Natibaby linen since it’s supposed to be great for heavier kids, but after borrowing one and disliking it, I just couldn’t commit. I had half a mind that a Didymos Natural Hemp India would be a great wrap for me, but the prices I was seeing on the swap just weren’t jiving with me. Then, BAM! I happened to see one posted for what I considered to be a steal of a deal and snapped it up only 6 minutes after the seller posted it.
|Didymos Natural Hemp India size 4. |
Photo thanks to Breathe In Photography in Ottawa, who loves to shoot babywearers!
I had been out of town, so I received both the LewLewBelle and the NHIndia when I arrived home. It was glorious. NHIndia and I hit it off right away even though I was a little hesitant about the colour at first. The LewLewBelle took a little more time to get into, since it was brand new and, let’s call a spade a spade here, a ridiculous size on me. It was a long size 8, measuring over 6m after wash. After the Linuschka fiasco, I was determined to get to know this wrap a little better before chopping, so for a week or two I could be seen wandering around town using shorty carries with a giant braided tail or about 4 passes around my waist. I decided it was a keeper and chopped into a size 2 and a size 3 (one of the benefits of a 6m wrap). I sold the 2 and kept the 3, which wasn’t my original intention; in keeping with the plan ahead school of thought I realized a size 3 would give me the options I wanted with a 4 or 5 year old.
|LewLewBelle Noir Ombre on Natural Linen size 3. |
Another beautiful photograph by Breathe In Photography in Ottawa.
I did a very short temporary trade of the NHIndia for a Toddler Tula, and I was awed and amazed that it actually fit correctly and I was able to get my son nice and high. When I used it for just a few minutes I was very tempted to purchase one, but when I went on a longer walk, the waist band was too much for me (I always use a chest pass instead of a waist pass with a woven wrap). Since my husband didn’t love it more than a wrap, we decided to keep the LewLewBelle and nixed the idea of a SSC.
|Tula Toddler "Folk Art". I'll admit it, if this pattern had still been in stock, I might have gone for it...|
Although I appreciated the look and support of the LewLewBelle linen wrap right away, I really started loving it when I moved to Tokyo and it was six million degrees humidex. Linen is pretty rad in hot and humid weather. It absorbs more moisture than cotton, so doesn’t feel or look drenched in sweat even though it actually is. The short size has also been a key to success.
|LewLewBelle Noir Ombre on Natural Linen size 3. |
Our first weekend in Tokyo and a successful front-to-back transfer with a jet-lagged toddler.
Just before I moved (early July) I found the instruction booklet for the Bathing Buddies pouch sling. It had been a quiet supporter filling in where necessary and had always been our around-the-house carrier, but the weight limit listed in the booklet was 25lbs and my son was over 26lbs at last weight check. I passed it on to a local OBG member and I hope she’s finding it just as useful. It’s the only carrier my son has missed and asked for, and most of the time a wrap just won’t do when he wants “the white wrap”.
|Bathing Buddies mesh pouch sling. We often natter on about expensive carriers but this low-cost number really did more than its share of baby-carrying (it just doesn't look as impressive).|
Looking forward, I realize that the size 4 indio has become fairly redundant to own, but I’m having a hard time letting it go. It’s the first wrap I loved; the wrap that convinced me that shorter wraps were awesome, and the wrap that I have used the most in 2013. It is hard to let go of something that had been of such great use. I have forced myself to alternate between it and the 100% linen size 3 lately, just to make sure I’m not keeping something I don’t have a use for.
|One of my most recent uses of this wrap. He was asleep before |
we even got into the subway coming home from dinner out.
I’m also thinking maybe it’s time I actually gave a real try at figuring out ring slings as a replacement for “the white wrap”. I have only tried them once or twice but never when my son was willing. I am having a hard time with making the decision to move into a more limited carrier, so sometimes I think I should get a true size 2 and some rings…but then I figure that I don’t love the look of rings anyways, so why don’t I just use the size 3 with a slip knot and a rebozo carry…then I think of that Natibaby Delin that I DIDN’T buy and think of how great it could be as a ring sling…
Babyette lime green gauze 4.6m (sold locally)
Bathing Buddies mesh water pouch sling (sold locally)
Babyette indigo blue gauze 5m (sold locally)
Girasol Amitola Azarfan size 6 (sold locally)
Didymos Blaze/Glut linen Indio size 4
Didymos Petrol Hemp Indio size 6
Linuschka Anthracite Dahlia size 6 (chopped and sold both pieces, one of them locally)
Didymos Natural Hemp India size 4
LewLewBelle Noir Ombre grad on 100% natural linen size 8 (chopped, kept a size 3 and sold a size 2
|My patented "self-hammock" method of breaking in a wrap; |
people are always willing to lend out wraps if you promise to try to break them in!
Natibaby linen blend Fabula Hungarica Purple size 7
Didymos Orient size 2
Didymos Cherry blossoms size 3
Oscha Rich Apple grad 100% linen size 4
Tula Toddler “Folk Art"
But wait, there’s more! Other things around the house I’ve used for carrying my son:
Small cotton tablecloth for torso carry
Peruvian manta (aka that blanket someone brought me as a souvenir) for manta carry
Towel for torso carry