This is easy: Pick a colorway you like in a medium-weight cotton, cotton/hemp, or cotton/linen. Now stop reading, because you’re done.
So you’re ready to fall down the rabbit hole. Welcome to Wonderland, kiddies. Ask ten mamas which wrap is “permastash” or “legacy” or “can’t-live-without” or, my personal fav, “cold-dead-hands”, and you’ll get ten different answers. One loves thick. The second thinks thick wraps make sloppy wrap jobs. A third says you have to have linen because it’s cushy; a fourth says linen feels like ropes on her shoulders. A fifth says buy hemp. A sixth says you need a Didy. A seventh recommends a handwoven, and you laugh at her, because no way are you dropping a mortgage payment on a piece of cloth, you’re going to DIY something from Joann’s (we’ve all been there, honey, and ended up with Pamirs). Eight tells you to get nothing but cotton. Nine says you can wrap your toddler in gauze. And ten shrugs and says they’re all the same in the end.
So you’re back at square one. You need help.
Rather than tell you to buy the One Wrap to Rule Them All – which is, for the record, Didymos’s mystic petrol hemp – let’s go through some basic recommendations. As always, if you have a local babywearing group, you need to go to a meeting and pet all the pretties, because nothing beats in person help.
So let’s talk wraps. First up:
If you want one long wrap, and never want to think about it again:
Buy a medium-weight wrap. This means something between maybe 200 to 250 gsm (grams per square meter), which means absolutely nothing to you if you haven’t spend more than two years fondling cloth like a fabric fetishist. But a medium-weight wraps gives you a good compromise between ease of wrapping and cush. It’s easier to move around a thinner wrap, for the most part (if it’s super grippy, that’s another story). Generally, the thicker the wrap, the harder to move it around and set your passes in place. If you aren’t used to wrapping, using a thick wrap feeling like wrasslin’ bears or something. Then if you don’t get it tight enough, it sags and slips and you went through all that sweating for nothing.
No, I don’t hate thick wraps. I own and use lots of thick wraps. But honestly: newbies tend to have trouble with them. It’s hard to learn to move that fabric around, and even harder when the fabric’s fighting you.
Buy a cotton wrap. Gasp! Cotton! Heresy! Yes, linen can be more supportive, unless it feels like ropes on your shoulders and you hate it. Other mamas swear hemp’s a great compromise: supportive and with a touch more bounce. Go for it if you want, but you can’t screw up with cotton.
Don’t obsess about “toddler-worthy”. A lot of new mamas get hung up on buying, because they want to make sure they can use the wrap they buy in three years, when their current fetus is pushing two-and-a-half. Stop it. Take a deep breath. See above advice about “colorway you like” and “medium-weight cotton”. As long as your wrap isn’t whisper-thin and you wrap very, very carefully, you can expect a fair amount of comfort from most medium-weight wraps, even if your kid’s a beast.
The flatter the weave, the less the maintenance. A flatter, more tightly woven wrap (Girasol twill, Storchenwiege or Didy stripes) will pull less than a looser weave (Didy indio, Inda Jani herringbone weave). If you don’t mind fixing pulls – and it’s super, super easy to fix pulls – ignore this advice. I can manage it with 5 minutes and a big needle.
My top recommendations for the only wrap you’ll ever own, in no particular order:
- Storchenwiege Leo: breaks in like a beast – expect it to send lots of quality time with your dryer balls. Better to buy one used if you can. But Leos are stretchy, bouncy, fairly cushy, and super supportive. You can tow a car with them or drag them through the sand.
Didymos Stripes or double-face wraps: not as supportive as a Leo in the long term, but super pretty, low maintenance, and easy to find used. These get super crazy soft. If you’re lucky, you’ll track down an old, loved stripes and love it forever and always. My favs? Didy Katja, Lisa, and Simon. And now I want another one.
- Girasol diamond weave: Supportive, pretty rainbows. Come for the rainbow, stay for the support. The diamond weave makes them fairly indestructible.
Storchenweige Stripes: Not as legendary as Leo, but still wonderful. It can take what you dish out. I actually have a friend IRL who uses one as her sole wrap, or did for years. And her kids were gigantic.
Ellevill zara: If I had to buy one wrap to use for the rest of time and it wasn’t mystic petrol, it would be a zara. Plenty of stretch, some bounce, easy to tighten and a great wrap to learn on, even right out of the box. You can get a tight, moldable carry without too much effort, and it’ll support a fat toddler. I had a zara black I used to tote babies, toddlers, and mop up spilled tea. Zaras come in a million different colors, but they’re all amazing.
Damn it, now I want another zara.
- Ellevill jade: Thicker than a zara, but with more bounce. It wouldn’t tighten as easily, but it will take any abuse you can throw at it. For some reason, no one loves them right now, which baffles me. They may be beastly BNIB – like so many wraps, try to buy one used. The oldest, handwoven ones wrap best.
Tekhni Thalia: Low-maintenance, when broken-in soft enough for a newbie and supportive enough for a toddler. Medium weight and easy to tighten, which gives you a secure, comfy carry.
Inda Jani, one of their thicker weaves (herringbone, for example). Yes, they’ll pull, but you can’t complain about the price; they’re super pretty; and wrap soft enough for a squish, supportive enough for a toddler (dude, this should be y’all’s new slogan. Save me a fular rayado at the next stocking! Pretty please?).
I’ve also heard good things about Little Frog and Wrap Nap Fairy, though I haven’t tried either, and so can’t give you a good answer one way or another. Ask around and read reviews before you take the plunge.
If you want one short wrap, and never want to think of it again:
Buy a damn mahogany tablecloth. Case closed.
As usual, someone will disagree with every single thing on this list. That’s cool. But remember: if you get too offended about a random internet lady’s wrap recommendations, step it on back, take a deep breath, and remember: it’s just fabric, dude. No matter how often you fondle it.
Not so concerned about a wrap that’ll last from newbie to toddler? Stay tuned to hear about my fav newborn and toddler wraps in the Pick a Wrap series!
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