The Difference Between One-Way and Two-Way Stretchy Wraps

The typical method of tying a Pocket Wrap Cross Carry (PWCC) assumes that you are using a two-way stretchy wrap, this means that the fabric stretches along the length of the fabric and across the width. When this is the case you can tie your wrap so it fits like a skin-tight top, then rely on the ‘stretch’ and your baby’s weight to give enough to accommodate your child.

Not all stretchy wraps are ‘two way’; some only stretch across their width or ‘one way’. These will stretch to accommodate your child width ways, but not length ways. This means you will need to ‘fit’ the length of your wrap to your child, this means you will require a slightly different technique.

How do I tell if my Wrap is a One-Way or a Two-Way Stretchy Wrap?

If you already have a stretchy wrap you can tell whether or not it is a two way stretchy wrap by taking a section (not the hem) of fabric which is exactly parallel with the top or bottom edge and attempting to stretch it. If it is a ‘Two-Way’ then it will stretch, if it is a ‘One-Way’ then it will not. (If you take a section at a right angle, across the width, this will stretch for both a one way and a two way stretchy wrap).

If you have not yet bought your stretchy stretchy wrap you should be able to tell by looking at the sellers/manufacturers website. I’ve listed the most common brands below*:

One-Way Stretchy Wraps

Two-Way Stretchy Wraps

Which is Better?

It really is down to personal preference.  The one way stretchy wraps require a little bit more work in the initial set-up when you are doing a pre-tied carry but some people prefer the fit that this gives them.  Be aware that there are other differences between wraps (regardless of whether their stretch is one or two way) in terms of how stretchy and thick they are which you may also wish to consider before making a purchase.

*This post contains Amazon Affiliate links, if you have appreciated this content and want to support the the Sling Doctor please click through to their site.  

Case Study 7: Gemma and Jacob

Background

Gemma contacted The Sling Doctor asking for advice on which sling she could use with Jacob.  Jacob had been born by emergency c-section at 34 weeks due to reduced growth.  He was 4’10” at birth but was gaining weight well and at the age of 5 weeks had reached 6’5″.  Jacobs weight, although much improved still put him below the minimum weight limit on most buckle carriers.

Jacob had been prone to vomiting after feeds so Gemma had been advised to keep him upright for 30 minutes after each feed. This meant that Gemma was spending a lot of time holding Jacob and was hoping a sling would enable her to be ‘hands free’ during this period.

Gemma had been warned that Jacobs positioning in the womb put him at increased risk of hip dysplasia which would need to be assessed in the future. Gemma wanted to take this into account when choosing a sling for Jacob.

Gemma had noticed that some slings and carriers have a minimum weight limit of 8lb and was concerned that some carriers might exacerbate any potential hip problems Jacob had.

The Consultation 

I talked Gemma through Babywearing safety focusing particularly on maintaining Jacob’s airway and optimum hip positioning.

Airway

I explained that newborn babies like to curl up as if they are still in the womb.  This positioning is ideal for their lower bodies but, as babies do not need to breathe in the womb, does not protect their airway.  To keep the baby’s airway clear in the sling it is crucial that:

  • Baby’s chin is kept off their chest; you should be able to get two fingers between their chin and chest.
  • Baby is not allowed to slump; the sling holds them close to the wearer and supports their back well, so that if you push them on the back gently towards you, they do not move.
  • Baby’s mouth and nose is unobstructed; e.g. from clothes, fabric or breasts.
  • There is good airflow around babys face.
  • The wearer continues to be aware of and monitor baby’s positioning in the sling.

Optimum Hip Positioning

Optimum hip positioning in a sling is a position where the ball (femoral head) of the ball and socket hip joint is held centrally in the socket (acetabulum) of the child’s pelvis.  This encourages the deepening of the socket which would decrease the risk of dysplasia. Optimum positioning in a sling will decrease the risk of hip dysplasia and actually mimics the effects of the Pavlik harness which is the current treatment for hip dysplasia.  In order to achieve this optimum positioning the following needs to be achieved:

  • The sling should support the baby from knee to knee.
  • The knees should be held higher than the baby’s bottom so that they are level with their belly button.
  • The baby’s pelvis should be tilted inwards so that their tailbone is pointing downwards.
  • The baby’s knees should not be separated more than is developmentally appropriate (see diagram).


For more information on hip dysplasia and Babywearing please see this informative article. 

Sling Options

I suggested that Gemma and Jacob could achieve safe positioning for his airway and hips in any of the following:

I suggested that Gemma and Jacob avoid buckle carriers for now because he is below the minimum weight limit and that they avoid narrow based carriers due to his increased risk of hip dysplasia.

Gemma was keen to see how each of the options worked for a small baby so I demonstrated all four options with a newborn sized demonstration doll. Gemma decided she would like to try the stretchy wrap herself and thought if she found it too hard she would try the caboo.  I talked her through how to use it and she managed to achieve optimum positioning with the demonstration doll.


Gemma was so happy with the stretchy wrap that she didn’t want to try the caboo or the woven wrap. Jacob was content so we agreed to try the stretchy wrap with him.


Gemma was able to get Jacob into the optimum positioning.  He automatically tucked his pelvis in as she picked him up so she was careful not to interfere with his hip positioning. His head and neck required a little more work but Gemma found that she was able to tuck the back of Jacob’s head in the cross-pass enabling him to have his head supported in the correct position without her hands.

Gemma decided to buy a stretchy wrap and was able to get next day delivery.  I will be happy to offer her reduced price follow ups and short sessions should she needs to more help with using the wrap or if she would like to explore her other options as Jacob gets bigger.

I wish them all the best in their Babywearing  adventures.

Case Study 4: Amy and Molly


Background

Amy contacted the Sling Doctor and asked for a consultation for her and her daughter Molly who was two weeks old.  Amy had been discussing the benefits of skin to skin contact with her midwife and was keen to try Babywearing despite also feeling  overwhelmed by all of the options and safety advice.  She hoped the skin to skin contact would help with breastfeeding, enable her to get jobs done around the house and aid Molly’s physical and emotional development.

Special Considerations

Molly was born at 36 weeks gestation and, at the time of the consultation, weighed 5 pounds and 11 ounces.  This meant that she was too small to safely use any of my buckle carriers, even with the newborn inserts.  As with all young babies Molly’s positioning needed careful attention to ensure it was not obstructed in anyway.

Consultation

I met Amy and Molly at their home where we discussed their background, the benefits of Babywearing and safety considerations.  Given Amy and Molly’s circumstances I had taken three options for exploration:  A Woven Wrap, a Stretchy Wrap and a Close Parent Caboo.

Woven Wrap

Probably the most versatile of carriers, a length of woven fabric designed for Babywearing can be used safely with a tiny baby.   Because the fabric is not stretchy,  one layer is very supportive, making it one of the coolest options. Most of the single layer carries require retying each time it is used however, and the skill acquisition required can feel a bit overwhelming.

Stretchy Wrap

The stretchy wrap, is a length of stretchy fabric which can be pretied around the wearers body before they position the baby in the carry they have created.  It is simpler to use than a woven wrap and the multiple stretchy layers mean that the baby can be taken in and out of the wrap without re-tying each time.  Multiple layers can also make it a bit too warm and parents can find the length of fabric a bit overwhelming.

The Close Parent Caboo

The Close Parent Caboo is made of the same fabric as a stretchy wrap but has been constructed to fit in to the wearer without them having to wrap them selves. It is fully adjustable by feeding the fabric through two sets of metal rings which sit just above the wearers hips. The baby sits in the carrier just as she would in a stretchy wrap meaning that it can be used to preserve the child’s natural back, hip and leg positioning.  Like the stretchy wrap, it can still feel a bit hot but it benefits from not requiring as much skill aquisition. Unlike other, more structured, carriers the lower weight limit is 5 pounds, meaning that this was a reasonable suggestion for Molly.

After discussion I demonstrated the use of the Stretchy Wrap,  Amy liked the way the demonstration doll looked in the wrap and appeared to feel confident that it was a secure option but she was a bit concerned about how long it would take her to feel confident about using the wrap alone.  She wanted something she could use straight away with minimal learning. We agreed that the Caboo was the best option and Amy tried it out with the demonstration doll.


Once she felt confident with the doll we tried with Molly herself, who appeared quite content in the sling.

Outcome

Amy decided to buy A Close Parent Caboo and managed to get a next day delivery.  As she has received a full consultation from me I will offer reduced price follow up consultations to her in the future, either for help with the caboo or for learning new skills like breastfeeding in the sling or exploring other Babywearing  options as Molly grows. It was lovely to meet Amy and Molly and I hope they enjoy their Babywearing adventures.

Double Layer Stretchy Wrap Carries 

I have previously written about Single Layer Carries in a Stretchy Wrap.  These can be made safe if the baby is light enough, or the wrap supportive enough, to hold the baby in position and prevent them from slumping. 
 When your baby becomes too heavy for one layer of stretchy wrap to support them adequately you can move on to double layer carries.  These have the benefit of added support while remaining cooler than the traditional three layer stretchy wrap carries.

Safety

As with the single layer stretchy wrap carries please make sure baby is well supported by the wrap, their airway is visible and clear, they are not slumped and their chin is off their chest at all times.  

 Semi Front Wrap Cross Carry 

This carry involves one wrap pass and one cross pass.  I believe the combination of wrap and cross passes makes the carry more secure than two wrap passes or two cross passes would be. It is tied at the shoulder with a Slipknot. I found my Slipknot was more ‘slippery’ with a stretchy wrap so you may find it needs extra tightening. The Slipknot is useful for being able to easily tighten after the baby is secure. 


Backwards Semi-Wrap Cross Carry

The passes used in this carry are the same as in the Semi Wrap Cross Carry but the way this carry is tied gives you an inbuilt head support for your baby and replaces the shoulder Slipknot with a hip/back located flat reef knot.  It is not as easy to pass excess slack though a reef knot as it is a Slipknot but it is not difficult either. 

Once you feel your baby is no longer adequately supported by two stretchy wrap layers please move on to three layers or a woven wrap! 

Single Layer Carries in a Stretchy Wrap

Stretchy Wraps

Stretchy wraps, such as the Boba, Moby and Hana Baby wraps are usually used to make a three layer pre-tied carry, sometimes called a Pocket Wrap Cross Carry (PWCC).   The PWCC is tied on the parent or carer so that it fits them closely without baby then the stretch in the fabric accommodates the baby. This is brilliant for newborns because it is super-supportive and you can pop baby in and out of it all day without needing to re-tie.

Stretchy wrap fabric is knitted rather than woven, feeling more like t-shirt material.  Wraps vary in thickness and in how much they stretch.  Some stretchy wraps stretch in two directions, and some in just in direction (sometimes called a hybrid). One of the most common complaints about stretchy wraps is how hot they get.  There are three layers of fabric over baby’s back which should be considered as if they were three layers of clothing. Even if baby is naked under the wrap, three layers can feel like too many on a hot day. 
Single Layer Carries

There are several single layer carries, normally used with woven wraps, which only involve one layer of fabric over the baby’s back.  If your baby is light enough and your wrap supportive enough these can be used safely with a stretchy wrap. As stated above, wraps vary in the amount they stretch and babies vary in weight and muscle tone so there is no rule regarding how heavy your baby is.  The lighter your baby and the less-stretchy your wrap the better.

If, once you have  put your baby in a single layer stretchy wrap carry, you feel they are not being held close to you, have room to slump or are bouncing about too much then this is not a safe option for you and your baby.  You might consider a two layer carry, three layer carry or progressing to a woven wrap (you have already learnt the skills you will need to use one!)  which, because of the lack of stretch is safe to be used with just one layer.

Front Wrap Cross Carry (FWCC)

This carry is normally the first woven wrap carry learned. Because I’m assuming your baby is very young I have shown it here with a twist underneath the baby’s bottom.  This enables the wearer to tie the carry off behind them without applying pressure to tiny ankles. With a bigger baby the positioning would be slightly different and you would not need to worry so much about the ankles. If your baby is bigger and you feel you can tie without applying pressure to the ankles then cross the tails under the baby’s bottom then take them under the feet and tie behind you without twisting. 

Kangaroo Carry

This carry is another good carry for newborns in a woven wrap which translates well into stretchy wrap wearing. Again I have twisted the tails before tying off (please see point above). 

Please let me know how you get on

Case Study 1: Victoria and George

IMG_2895Background

Victoria attended her Sling Doctor consultation on a hot day in July with her 8 week old baby George. George was born full term, was not underweight and is developing as expected. Victoria is recovering well from the birth and also has an energetic toddler and a dog to keep up with.  They had been using a beautiful hybrid 1-way stretchy wrap by Wrapsody in the traditional Pocket-Wrap-Cross-Carry (PWCC) style.

PWCC Optimisation

Victoria asked for advice on the PWCC:  She was finding that the fabric on the top rail (edge of the wrap) of the two cross passes nearest her neck and going down over George’s back were quite tight.  This was making them uncomfortable and difficult to flip over her shoulders (to create space around George’s face). Victoria also asked was there was a way of supporting George’s head without tucking it under one of the cross passes? She found that when he was awake he did not want the back of his head covered, this was meaning that she needed to support his head with one of her hands.

Victoria and I went through the basics of the PWCC, looking for places where she might be over-tightening or introducing excess slack in the fabric.  When Victoria placed the Demo doll in the tied wrap we found that the top rail was, as she had said, tight.  However, the top rail of the pocket (the external wrap pass) was slightly loose.  I showed Victoria how to feed the slack from the pocket, along the top rail, round her back to the cross passes on her shoulders and chest.  This relieved the problematic tension and allowed her the space to flip the shoulders of the wrap as she had wanted to.

In order to support George’s head without tucking it under a cross pass we tried rolling up a muslin cloth, placing it over the front of the wrap and folding the top part of the pocket over it so it sat in the nape of his neck.   This enabled Victoria to go ‘hands free’ while George was awake.

Single Layer Carries with a 1-way Stretchy Wrap

Victoria asked if there were any cooler ways of wearing George in the 1-way stretchy wrap.  The PWCC results in three layers of fabric over the baby, which can make it too hot on warm days.  As Victoria’s wrap is a 1-way stretchy and her baby is still relatively light she is able to use carries that only involve one layer of fabric.  I showed her how to do a Front-Wrap-Cross-Carry (FWCC) and a Kangaroo Carry.  As George gets bigger Victoria will notice he begins to slump with just one layer of fabric,which will make the carry less safe.  when this occurs Victoria will need to introduce another layer of fabric or transition over to a woven wrap.

Follow Up

I have sent Victoria links to video tutorials for both the FWCC and the Kangaroo Carry.  I am available to troubleshoot both and will be happy to help her when she reaches the next step in her babywearing adventures.