Ok, let's start with some super basics. Wraps come in different sizes. You can do different carries with different sizes and it's really personal preference that determines which size is "best."
Size 2 - 2.7 meters
Size 3 - 3.1 meters
Size 4 - 3.6 meters
Size 5 - 4.1 meters
Size 6 - 4.6 meters
Size 7 - 5.1 meters
So what size do you need? "They" say the average person can do a majority of the well known carries out there with a size 6. If you are particularly petite you might want a size 5 and if you are particularly big you might want a size 7. Wraps referred to as "shorties" are generally size 2 or 3. I would not recommend trying to start out with a shortie. Generally speaking you can only do single pass carries (a carry where the fabric only goes across your baby once) with a shortie and they're far less forgiving than longer carries. Once you get confident doing long carries then you can start trying shorter carries.
Wear Your Baby and The Babywearer both have really good lists of which carries can generally be performed with which sizes. Another great resource is YouTube. Just start searching for "woven wrap size X" and see what pops up! That is truly how I learned to wrap.
What different brand wraps are there? I'm pretty sure it would be impossible for me to create a complete list of wrap brands, but here is a brain dump of the ones I know of. Natibaby, Bara Barn, JumpSac Baby, Didymos, Dolcino, Diva Milano, Colimacon et Cie, Ellevill, Storchenwiege, Girasol, Easycare, KoKaDi, Hoppediz, Wrapsody, BB Slen, je port mon bebe, Linuschka, Pavo Textiles, UppyMama. I have personally owned Natibaby, Didymos, Girasol, KoKaDi, and Colimacon et Cie wraps.
If you're looking for a more budget friendly wrap I would stick to Colimacon et Cie, Storchenwiege, Hoppediz, or BB Slen.
Where can I get these wraps? There are very limited brick and mortar stores that carry woven wraps. If you have a "natural parenting" store local to you I would totally check to see if they carry any. If not, you have to go online. You can order directly from manufacturers but then you have to deal with international shipping (there are very few brands that are made in the USA - the only one I mentioned was Pavo). My favorite online retailers are Risaroo (who gives a military discount, just email her to order) and Marsupial Mamas. Or, you can buy used (I buy and sell wraps constantly) - my favorite "swap" is actually on Facebook.
What kind of fabric should I buy? Like I mentioned earlier, wraps can pretty much be made out of any natural fiber. All cotton is great and easy to "break in" but it's far less supportive than linen or hemp. Bamboo is super soft but really works best for a newborn since it isn't very strong. I love my wool wrap, but it takes special care since I can't just throw it in a washing machine (but it's worth it, I promise). So, it's really hard to say what is best. I always just buy wraps that I like the look of, haha. If the fiber content doesn't work out I just sell it. Be prepared to have a wrap come out of the box stiff and "crunchy" though if you buy something like linen or hemp! The more you use it and love on it the softer and more amazing it will get!
Why woven wraps anyway? This is really a good question and it's hard for me to answer. They're just so gosh darn versatile. They can be used from birth to death (literally - as long as you are strong enough, the wrap is, too).
|Yes, I'm carrying my sister|
You can wear them in a million different way - front, hip, or back.
|I was dancing, in case you couldn't tell, haha|
They're just plain pretty.
|Baby carrier, fashion statement, or both?|
And they can even be used to snuggle with or as totally awesome photo props.
|W was being a turd during our first family photo shoot, but snuggling with his wrap totally made for some adorable pictures|
If you're willing to take the time to learn how to use them, they are absolutely amazing.
So you're ready to take the plunge - where do you start? First, I would try and find a babywearing group near you so you can try some wraps out (hopefully). You can check Babywearing International to see if there is a registered group near you and if nothing comes up there (they have to pay to register so it's possible there is a group near you just not one affiliated with BWI) I would check Facebook! My favorite all-things-babywearing group is Babywearing Love and Support. You can post there to see if anyone knows of a group near you.
If there isn't a group near you just take the plunge. If you have any questions about different wraps I'd be happy to help or you can ask the thousands of kind ladies in the Babywearing Love and Support group on Facebook. Once you get your wrap in be sure to check out my video tutorials and my favorite YouTube "channel" for learning all things babywearing is actually Babywearing Faith. If it doesn't work out, you can always sell it on the Swap since woven wraps actually maintain their value pretty darn well.
I think that is more than enough information for "Babywearing 201!" If there's anything specific you want to know about woven wraps just ask and I'll start putting together a "Babywearing 202 - Woven Wraps Continued" post. For now, I'll just wrap this up (hehe) with my adorable son wearing a stuffed dog with a scarf!