Stretchy wraps are long lengths (usually around five metres) of soft stretchy fabric that you wrap around yourself to carry your baby. They are usually ideal for newborns and smaller babies up until about 6-9 months old, although some can be used significantly longer. Their stretch and elasticity mean that a tightly tied stretchy wrap will old around the baby supporting it evenly all over the body and will support and replicate as closely as possible the conditions they are used to before birth.
Putting a baby into any carrier can take a little practice, but most people feel confident after trying it out four or five times.
As babies get larger and heavier some stretchy wraps are no longer supportive enough, and some babies no longer enjoy the feeling of having their whole body snugly wrapped. They may prefer a different position, such as seated sideways in a stretchy wrap, or they may prefer another carrier that allows a greater range of movement and in which their range of vision is less restricted by fabric.
How do you wear a stretchy wrap?
There are several ways of wearing a stretchy wrap, however a carry which most manufacturers recommend with their products is the pocket wrap cross carry, in which the baby is supported by a cross of fabric between the legs spread from knee to knee and across the back, with a third layer to add support and help to fix the cross passes.
Video Courtesy of Carry My Baby
A variation of this which may be popular with small and premature babies who are still in the curled up foetal position is the pocket wrap double hammock. In this variation the fabric does not pass between the legs but supports the bottom and spine in a position with the knees up higher than the bottom. This can be more comfortable as it doesn’t open the legs further than a baby is developmentally ready to do.
Seated sideways positions can help older babies see more and remain happy in a stretchy wrap, they can also help to reduce pressure on the stomach which some babies with gastrointestinal issues may find more comfy, and they can be sued to increase the amount of eye contact that the carrying person and the baby can maintain.
Some stretchy wraps are stronger than others, and may continue to be used as babies get older and heavier and some can be used for back carries, although this is not recommended for a newborn without some one to one support to ensure that safety is maintained at all times.
What are the advantages of a stretchy wrap?
They can be pre-tied and left on all day, so there should be little need to adjust or retie between uses
Quick to get baby in and out
They are suitable from birth and can often be used from low birth weights, although it may be worth seeking in person advice for very low birth weight or premature babies to ensure you are aware of all safety implications
Easy to wash and dry. They can be machine washed and even tumble dried, but please do read our guidelines to washing slings safely first.
Easy to both breastfeed and bottle feed in
Easy to lay a sleeping baby down from the ring sling without waking them
Relatively inexpensive, so a good option for parents who want to carry small babies, but are not sure they want to carry into toddler-hood so are not looking to spend a lot of money
What are the disadvantages of a stretchy wrap?
They are often most suitable until 6 months
Some of them can be quite warm in summer
A long length of fabric can look daunting when first learning to tie.
Long tails of fabric could cause a trip hazard so need t be safely tied out of the way.
As they are simple pieces of fabric there are many cheap brands some of which make excellent slings and others may not be weight tested, may use dyes that are not necessarily safe if a child sucks the sling, and which may have less strong elasticity (the stretch of a fabric is how far you can pull it out or stretch it, the elasticity is how well it springs back to shape. An in-elastic stretchy fabric will sag and not support the baby’s weight well.) We would recommend going with a reputable brand of stretchy wraps.
What is the difference between a one way stretchy wrap and a two way stretchy wrap?
A one way stretchy wrap stretches along the width of the fabric, but not along the length.
When using a one way stretchy you either have to leave exactly enough slack to get the baby in but not so much that they sag in the carrier, or to tighten once baby is in, or wrap around the baby. This means it is much easier to end up with a loose and unsupportive carry, which can mean that the fabric, sags, the baby slumps and airways can be unsupported, or even compromised. It takes more skill and judgment to get a safe supportive carry in a one way stretchy, but it is absolutely possible.
A two way stretchy wrap stretches along both the length and the width. This makes the pre-tied carry easier to achieve safely and without slack that could allow the baby to slump.
With a two way stretchy wrap you tie the fabric tight to your body and use its stretch along the length to fit the baby in, the fabric then unstretches and molds around the baby supporting them all over.
We only retail and hire out two way stretchy wraps because we find that many people who come to us with one way stretchy wraps struggle to use them and end up looking for other options such as a two way stretchy wrap, or another type of carrier.
What fabrics can stretchy wraps be made of and what difference does it make?
Cotton: cotton is a breathable fabric, but can still be quite warm when you have three layers over you and your baby.
Bamboo: Bamboo has slightly cooler properties than cotton, it can feel a little softer and sometimes more slippery.
Nylon-Spandex mesh: very lightweight and cool, mesh has lots of tiny holes so it lets heat out and a cool breeze in
Organic Baby Stretchy Wrap
Birth to 12.5kg
5.2m by 50cm
Baby Stretchy Wrap
48% Bamboo, 48% Cotton, 4% Elastene
Birth to 12.5kg
5.2m by 50cm
Basic Stretchy Wrap
3.5kg -10kg (certified up to 14kg)
4.6m by 50cm
Original Stretchy Wrap
95% Cotton 5% Elastene
Very strong stretch and elasticity
4.9m by 70cm
94% Cotton 6% Elastene
2.5kg to 15kg
French Terry so very soft backing
5.2m by 50cm
95% Cotton, 5% Elastene
Up to 15.9kg
Bamboo Stretchy Wrap
66.5% Bamboo, 28.5% Cotton, 5% Spandex
Up to 15.9kg
Hires from £10 for 2 weeks
87% Nylon, 13% Spandex
Made of mesh rather than jersey fabric so very light and cool. Excellent for summer.
We have our favourite stretchy wraps available to buy, and offer a Try Before You Buy service where you can use a carrier for two weeks as though it is your own, and at the end, if you do not wish to keep it you get a refund of all but the cost of a hire, and if you do wish to keep it, it is yours. Check them out here.