I get this question a lot. Why would you want to get a big piece of material and secure your child in it when you have easy buckle carriers? The answer "because I like it" doesn't give a whole lot of detail (nor does it sway friends and strangers to take the plunge and try it out). After some thinking I have developed a list of why I wrap, in no particular order, because from day to day the #1 reason I choose to wrap can change:
1. It's versatile. That 3-4 meter length of fabric can get my infant or my toddler comfortably perched on my back, hip, and front in a variety of different carries that are ergonomic and displace my baby's weight according to my needs. When the kids have had their share of ups we cuddle on the couch with our wraps for blankets, use them for hammocks tied under the table, pretend we are ghosts with them, or make forts. After a day at the park, I often tuck my slings alongside my kids as they drift off for the inevitable car seat nap on chilly days.
2. Woven wraps allowed me to get my small baby comfortably and safely perched on my back where he could see the world around him. He could stay close to mama and I had free hands for big sister snuggles and getting some dishes done. Other carriers are not designed to get small babies on your back. They situate the baby too low and it's not safe. You need to be able to check a baby's airway at all times. In my woven wrap I could turn and kiss my young baby's face he was so high and close. It was very liberating wearing my son and being able to multitask early on in his life. Especially with a curious and busy toddler to tend to. *Back wrapping should only be done with a high level of experience with wrapping, in specific high back carries, and only in a woven wrap once baby is sitting unsupported.
3. Wrapping is fun. It's challenging at first to learn new carries (ways of tying the wrap around you and baby in different positions) but once you nail your first solid double hammock the feeling is similar to scoring a goal for your soccer team. Small victories! Maybe the athlete in me comes out a little while I'm getting my babies situated. My opponent can change day to day with wrapping; between an unwilling wrappee, a super grippy wrap that needs to be tamed down a bit, or the mastery of a new carry. Most of the time I can sway the child or my wrap into a comfortable position and he drifts off to sleep or settles in for some snuggles. Some days I bust out my buckle carrier or ring sling after a frustrating attempt at wrapping, however, and admit momentary defeat.
4. Wrapping is pretty. Motherhood can leave me feeling like a bit of a mess some days. Between being very much needed physically by my little one and emotionally drained by my big one. There are plenty of days where sweats and a messy bun are the style around here. But wrapping myself and a baby in textured, shiny, soft beautiful fabric with no buckles or rings to dig into my sides makes me feel pretty darn lovely.
5. It brings a sense of community. I didn't grab a length of material and whip a perfect wrap job with no help. I had a friend teach me how to wrap with a doll when I was pregnant and watched several online video tutorials before I wrapped my own baby. I borrowed my first wrap from a mama who had learned to wrap her babies in much the same way. I took pictures of my first wrap job and sent them to friends for critique and received advice to improve my technique to make my baby and me the most comfortable we could be. I have since done the same with new wrappers, passing along a gem of parenting that has meant so much to me. It's an art in some ways that takes practice and time to learn. And any art or hobby that brings parents and babies together is worth investing time into.
When I am at the grocery store and my son is happily perched on my back in a wrap I have grandmothers approach us and chat with me about how cool it is that I'm wearing my son in a fabric carrier (sometimes, yes, it does get called a bed sheet). I'll take it. They talk to me. They talk to my kids.They tell me that they wish they had those when they were new mothers. They ask me where they can get one for their nieces or granddaughters because of how pretty or neat the wrap is, or how happy my son is. I don't typically get questions with my other carriers. For some reason the grannies love the wraps. In a time when generational gaps can seem so great, it's neat to me that babywearing seems to be something everyone can get on board with. Especially in a time where devices with special music, toys or vibrations to keep our children contained are heavily encouraged and marketed.
6. Wraps hold value over time, one way or another. Wraps can typically be sold for at least half of what was paid for them (and there are some that hold more value than they were purchased for over time), or passed on to a sister, a friend or a lending library. Or you can be like me. Once I am done with my wraps they probably won't leave. I have at least enough material to make some fabulous throw pillows, doll carriers, possibly reupholster part of a chair, even make a nice bag or quilt squares. This piece of "gear," if you will, that holds such sweet memories of a tender, short time of my life where I could tickle the chubby feet of my baby as we walked along the sidewalk can travel into our futures and continue to be both useful and a physical reminder of those baby days. Or I could just leave them as is, and save them for my grandbabies with proper storage. They don't rust.
I said lots of words about wraps. I love my other carriers too. At the end of the day though. This sums it up. If you need to convince someone you need a wrap, just show them this.