A newborn baby is wrapped in Lenny Lamb's Carousel of Colors long woven wrap in a front carry.
Ah... the long woven wrap. The perfect carrier for maximum versatility, coziness, and longevity, perfect for use from the first day of life all the way through preschool-hood and beyond! What I love about the long woven wrap is that you can use it for so many things. You can use it for hip carries for older children or for quick back carries; you can use it for warm and snuggly multi-layer front carries or super supportive multi-layer back carries, and more! There's just so much variety, and if you take the time to learn and to try different styles, you'll find that you can get so much more out of the carrier, and you'll also find that you have need for more sizes! The most common question that I get about long woven wraps is, “what size wrap do I need?”
The short answer is, most people find that starting with a size 6 works for what they need to learn.
For the long answer, keep reading! Sizing is really dependent on a few different considerations: Caregiver size, age of child, and types of carries.
A child is wrapped in Lenny Lamb's Jurassic Park - New Era long woven wrap in a hip carry.
The first category to consider is your typical size. If you, the caregiver, are a size medium, large, or XL in your typical T-shirt size, a size 6 should have enough length for you to comfortably wrap around a newborn baby or an infant as your “base size.” Since many of us fall somewhere in this category and are starting with small babies, this tends to be a good place to start. Your “base size” is the carrier length that allows you to do a front wrap cross carry. A front wrap cross carry is a three-layer front carry. This is a good carry to learn with a small baby, and it gives you a lot of extra support. We usually start caregivers with this carry as it helps you to understand and learn how your wrap works and is pretty forgiving.
However, that doesn't mean that this is the only size you could use, or that it's the only size you could be comfortable with. What's wonderful about a long woven wrap as opposed to a stretchy wrap is that a long woven wrap is very versatile. A stretchy wrap, for example, can only be safely used with multi-layer carries. What that means is, you have to have enough extra length to be able to go over your child multiple times and be able to then still come back around and tie off. With a long woven wrap, your child can be safely carried with a single layer pass. Not only is this lighter for both of you, but it also means that if you don't want to carry multi-layer passes that you can use a shorter length of wrap and still be very comfortable. If you are typically size XS or small, a size 5 may be a good starting point for you. If your typical T-shirt size is 2XL - 3XL, a size 7 might be good for you. Larger sizes may be more comfortable in a size 8 or a custom size 9. Smaller sizes than those might use a size 4.
The next thing to consider is the age of your baby. If you still like front carries or you need the extra support of multi-layer carries, as your baby grows, you might go up a size from your “base size” to a "base +1" (so a 7, if your base size is a 6) as your little one gets older. But, if you are someone whose little one likes to do quick ups and downs, or if they are a little one who doesn't do a lot of aerobics while being worn and can stay pretty nicely in the carrier, then you may want to (and I encourage you to try to!) use what's called a “shortie” wrap.
A “shortie” wrap is usually about two sizes shorter than your base size. A “shortie” wrap lets you do quick hip carries, which can be really nice for toddlers who want to go up and down a lot. This is similar to a ring sling, but without the rings, so we use knots to tie off instead of the rings for support. You can also do quick back carries or ruck carries, tied under the bum or other variations. These are simple single layer carries that use a lot less fabric. Less fabric can make lighter and easier to use for some caregiver/child pairs.
On the other hand, if you are carrying a newborn baby or a small infant, you don't need to worry about sizing up or down in particular because small babies aren't typically able to be carried on the hip or back just yet. (An experienced wrapper may be comfortable with a back carry, but this comes from a lot of skill and practice and awareness of a newborn baby’s breathing and airway. We do not recommend this for new wrappers.) Usually, hip and back carries begin when you start naturally placing baby on your hip. This usually coincides with when they are starting to sit unassisted--somewhere around 4 - 6 months is typically a good time to start. With newborns and infants, sometimes you'll use multi-layer carries and sometimes you won't, which is the nice thing about the flexibility o the long woven wrap. But, with a young baby, you likely won't need to do super short carries unless you want to. You can use a size 4 with a newborn and do a front version of a traditional sling carry, as an example. For many, though, a base size length front carry is an ideal one, and you can do several types of front carries with a base size wrap.
If you wish to continue doing some of the base size wraps like front wrap cross carry or back wrap cross carry (3 passes over baby on the back), then you will likely over time need to size up. However, as we get better at wrapping, we learn how to use the wrap more efficiently. So, if you are wrapping a lot in your baby’s younger days as your baby gets older you may get more efficient at tightening, and so the size 6 wrap that you thought you might have to size up to size 7 may actually work fine. When your child gets to be about a year old for example, you may realize that you have a lot of extra fabric that you didn't have before, and so you're able to use it comfortably for a child at that point as well, or even older.
Type of Carry
We touched on this a little bit in the last section, but, the type of carry that you want to use is really going to shape the wrap that you need as well. If you are someone who loves the look of fancy carries, and you want to be able to learn how to do fancy knots and twists and finishes, you are likely going to enjoy a wrap that has a little bit of extra length. Even if your first wrap doesn’t have the extra length, if you start using one that has extra length to practice with, you'll have the ability to try the different knots and the fancy finishes and really make it an artistic expression. You can even include accessories like rings and other fun things into your tie-offs!
If you are someone who really only envisions themselves doing quick wraps with your little one, such as if you have a toddler who's on the go a lot, or if you are pregnant and want waist-less back carries for your little one, a “shortie” wrap is going to be a good choice for you. One of the reasons that I recommend both a base size and a “shortie” is that I find the combination makes for a really good really good range of carries for most people, and then if you're someone who also wants something with a little bit of extra length or fancy finishes, adding one that's just one size up from your base works really well to give a nice variety. So, for example, if your base size is a size 6 and sometimes you like normal base size carries and sometimes you like quick carries, a size 6 and a size 4 might be good for you, and if you want to throw in a 7 for fancy finishes you could do that as well.
Other things to consider: if you are doing exclusively back carries, you may want to consider if you prefer waist-ed carries or a waist-less carries. A carry with a waist tie-off finish is going to likely need a little bit more fabric than carry that is waist-less. Thinking about support is also important. The longer the wrap, the more fabric that you have, which gives more opportunities to add extra support as you're wrapping.
A child is wrapped in Lenny Lamb's Emerald long woven wrap in a front carry.
The bottom line: If you're just starting out, your base size, if you are a t-shirt size Medium / Large / XL, is to go ahead and start with a size 6 / Medium. But, if you choose the “wrong” size, take heart! You will definitely still be able to do a variety of carries most likely. As you get more experienced, you will get better and better at being able to use the fabric well. As your baby grows you may desire more or less fabric. But, a good starting place is trying to assess a base size, and then you can go from there to see what you'd like. My recommendation is trying to start with a base size and a “shortie” size for maximum variation and choice. A good “shortie” length is typically two sizes less than your base size. So, a common combination is a size 6 followed by a size 4.
What do you think? Do you agree? What size is your preferred? We've got a plenty of beautiful wraps here. Check out what we have in the store here.
Let me know what you think! I'd love to hear from you.
All the best,