Let's get out there with babies! Here are 6 tips for wrapping while out with baby! The above image is a graphic with text. The photo is of my white baby boy being worn in a light blue-green and off-white abstract leaf-patterned wrap Tekhni Omada Nova tied in a Front Wrap Cross Carry. I'm wearing him and standing outside with a ground covered in dry leaves behond me. The text is quote Six Tips for Wrapping on the go by Amy Wraps Babies.
One of the many benefits of babywearing is that it helps us stay on the go with kids in tow - babywearing on the go is a lifesaver! Babywearing with a woven wrap is my absolute favorite because it is a super functional and versatile piece of baby gear when away from home. Here are a few of my favorite tips for wrapping while out and about.
#1: Wrap before leaving the house. If you're driving to your destination and you plan on front-carrying in a wrap, pre-tie it on! Then when you arrive, pop baby from carseat to pre-tied wrap seat, re-tighten, tie-off and go! A few good "poppable" front carries are Front Cross Carry (base size), Semi Pocket Wrap Cross Carry (base-2), and Inside Out Coolest Hip Cross Carry (base-2). A Front Wrap Cross Carry can also be pre-tied with a base size wrap, it just requires a little bit more re-tightening than the poppable carries.
#2: Use a short wrap. If you can't pre-tie, a short wrap is a great size to use. It requires fewer passes around you and baby so it is usually faster to get on, plus if you're wrapping in a parking lot your tails won't drag on the ground as much. If baby wants down a short wrap is a little easier to cart around without wearing anyone in it, too. My favorite short front carries are Traditional Sling Carry (base-3 or shorter), Front Wrap Cross Carry tied under bum or tied at shoulder (base-2 or shorter), and Robin's Hip Carry with a ring or without a ring (base-2). For back carries I love a ruck (tied at shoulder or tied in front, base-2 or shorter), Half Jordan's (base-2 or shorter), and Pirate Carry (aka Reinforced Rear Rucksack or RRR, base-2 or shorter).
#3: Use your wrap for other stuff! A wrap doesn't have to just carry a baby. Use the wrap as a high chair or shopping cart cover - it keeps baby away from germs that may have been left behind. (Use caution if you have a particularly messy eater!) Wraps can also be used as blankets for keeping warm or sitting on (again use caution with wet grass and mud!). You can even carry your other stuff in a wrap instead of carrying a baby in it! Use it knapsack-style (think Johnny Appleseed) or rucksack-style with everything strapped to your back.
#4: Navigate inclement weather. Need to wrap in the rain? My best advice - don't! Grab your baby, grab your stuff, and scoot those full arms indoors and wrap in there. When that isn't possible, do the fastest carry you know. Maybe that's one of the poppable front carries in #1 (see above) or maybe it's one of the short back carries from #2. And if that isn't possible, try this tip for braiding long tails that are quickly untied as you go (https://youtu.be/Hh_zg7J72-s)
#5: Know before you go. Parking lot wrapping is not the time to try out a new carry! Have a plan for what you're going to do when you get to your destination and make sure it is one you already know well. This is helpful for speed but also helpful for your nerves! Wrapping over concrete also comes with a certain level of risk so the more prepared and confident you are, the better you can mitigate that risk.
#6: Watch for onlookers and "helpers." This is not my favorite tip, but in my experience with wrapping in public you need to be aware of others around you, especially while back wrapping. People who are unfamiliar with babywearing are sometimes very concerned when they see a baby on someone's back. They may try to "help" without asking which can be a potential hazard for you if a pass is not where you think it should be or your baby's weight shifts unexpectedly. A polite but firm - "please do not touch" is entirely appropriate. Sometimes the helper needs reassurance - "I am experienced at safely wrapping my baby." Conversely, some people are just really interested in what you're doing! To those curious bystanders I say - "Hi! You're more than welcome to watch. Let me know if you have any questions!"
That last tip brings me to this - I highly encourage you to wrap in public!!! Most likely you will be nervous the first few times you have some bystanders. Those bystanders may never have seen wrapping before though! You are exposing them to a practice that has been long in existence yet long forgotten in "modern, Western" society. By wrapping in public you are making it less "weird." The more people that see wrapping and realize it's normal, safe, and awesome, the less nervous you'll be wrapping in public because people won't stop and stare. When we normalize wrapping people won't rush to us to "help," they'll just be like oh that's one cute baby and they will let us go on with our day! Yay!!
Happy wrapping on the go, babywearers! And if you have more tips or a favorite of the above, let us know in the comments!!
It amazes me how one little baby product has been so transformational for me. Babywearing in general has been extremely helpful, but it's really wrapping that has changed my life.
Wrapping let me take back my time again.
I started wrapping when my then-youngest was two years old, which seems kind of late in the game. I thought it would be practical because I had been having a really hard time making dinner lately because she wanted to be held - those early evening hours when I had just returned from being at work all day and my husband, her daytime caregiver, had left to go to work for the evening. For her it was a time of transition that required closeness, yet for me it was a time of day that required many chores meaning I had little focus for her. When I wrapped her on my back we could snuggle and talk and sing AND I could get some stuff done. I didn't worry anymore about tripping over my daughter as I moved about the kitchen. Life-changing multitasking.
Wrapping became more than just a method to make dinner.
There was also more than just a transition between day and night going on. My daughter had recently weaned. Our last nursing sessions were in the middle of the night and they were really the only time we got to spend together since I was gone all day. She weaned so naturally - just started sleeping through the night and that was it. Even though I could accept and was ready to wean, I felt like we lost so much time together. When I wrapped with her and we had that physical closeness, I felt like we were getting the oxytocin and all the good feels we had from nursing back except now we were totally awake and standing. Wrapping not only helped to preserve my relationship with my daughter but it changed it - it made me listen to her while she was worn and helped me remember she still needed my ears when she stood on her own. Wrapping ultimately led to me being a more present and aware parent.
Soon the very act of wrapping became a comfort.
Once I didn't have to think about what pass went where and in which order and how many there were... I could just enjoy the act of wrapping amazingly beautiful fabric around myself and my precious child. The way the texture of the fabric feels in my hand. The glide as I place a pass over my baby's back. How it stretches when I tighten it around me. The thickness or thinness of the bunching in my fist. The ritual of all these things is soothing for me. It gives my mind something positive and beautiful to focus on. After my son was born and I finally had an excuse for front carries, the emotional comfort of wrapping was a tool I used again and again...
Wrapping helped me cope with postpartum anxiety.
After my second son was born I started to have more intense anxiety than I did with the previous two kids. When I wrapped I wouldn't have to work at dismissing thoughts or trying to stay positive - my thoughts either had to focus on wrapping or they were distracted by the lovely textile I was using. Even after I tied off, when I was wrapped to my baby everything seemed a little more easy, a little less overwhelming. I felt that much more confident about my skills as a parent of all these kids when I wrapped. Without wrapping this baby I don't know how different my life would be. I would certainly not be getting much done around the house. And how different would my mood be, and my level of anxiety? I can't help but think wrapping changed my life there.
The community I've found through wrapping has changed my life.
The people I've met as a wrapper have taught me so much! I've learned a TON about wrapping from my local and online communities. It feels like the last of "old knowledge" - the kind that is passed from woman to woman through generations. Receiving and sharing knowledge makes me feel connected and empowered. Not only have I learned more about wrapping and other babywearing modalities but I've also learned about related topics as well: most of my leaning about social justice and my privilege had come from my babywearing circles. I've been introduced to concepts like ableism and I have been making changes in my words and behaviors - and influencing changes in my children's words and behaviors. Changing my life and changing the world, one small act at a time.
I'll be the first to admit: wrapping looks good and that makes me feel good. And on some days when I have really need that pick-me-up, wrapping really has changed my life. When I wore my babies in other carriers of course I felt more in control and it gave me a confidence boost for sure, but nothing like I feel when I tie on a wrap. Transforming that simple rectangle of fabric into a safe, secure, and beautiful carrier for my most precious cargo will never cease to make me feel like a ruck star (nice autocorrect I'm going to leave that one!). Even on the days when I can't work in a shower and I'm wearing clothes from the floor, being able to put on that pretty wrap has a life-changing effect on my self-esteem.
Wrapping has changed my life because it has become my greatest tool - my method to soothe a baby while being productive, to calm and distract my noisy mind, to help me become a better parent, a more involved and aware community member, and it changed the way I feel about my postpartum self.
This week we celebrate all things babywearing and postpartum during Postpartum Week, helped out by the fabulous Lalu Wovens who has provided wraps for us to use for the week. For more on what we're doing this week, see the Postpartum Week page - amywrapsbabies.com/postpartum-week
**Image of Amy, a thin white woman, standing in front of an old fence and wearing her baby on her back in a blue feathery pattern wrap Lalu Volare Indigo Bunting tied in a double hammock. Text over the image reads quote How wrapping changed my life by Amy Wraps Babies, end quote.