My kids are running around the yard naked again, which is about as good as marker as any for summertime. Yard nudity means hot weather, and hot weather means hot weather wrapping. Earlier I wrote a post about hot weather wearing in general, but I primarily wrap my kids. And since I live in the South, that means I spend about six months of the year wrapping in the heat (i.e. over 85 degrees or so), and we don’t spend that time indoors. We hike. We roast oysters. We supervise lots of yard nudity. So I get lots and lots of lots of hot weather wrapping practice.
Normally I’d just use a one-shouldered rebozo, but my leg-straightening leaner Sunny Baby makes that carry a misery (and anyway, if you want to rebozo, just buy a damn tablecloth). So I need something longer, and I’ll assume you do too. As always, when you tie a human being to your body with several yards of fabric, you will be hot, and you will sweat. You will not perspire, or glow, or get dewy. You will sweat like an Alabama swamp mule. So any coolness we talk about is a matter of degrees (har har). Until Molly Weasley marshals a crack team of house elves to weave us a wrap of magical yeti fur, summer wrapping will be hot. Deal with it or get a stroller.
And have common sense. Stick to the shade, drink like a camel, and check baby often for signs of overheating. Don’t backwrap your newborn in six layers of wool. Don’t forget a hat. And as 1999 reminds us, everyone’s free to wear sunscreen.
What Not to Wear
Don’t wear wool. Yes, I know there are thin woolies. Yes, wool is a miracle fiber than can feel cool in the summer. I swear, I own smartwool for that reason, people. But in general, wool’s hot. And if it’s not hot, the heat will probably make it feel prickly. A thin, low-content wool or cashmere (steingrau nautilus, for example) won’t roast your innards. But most wool will only make you hotter than you need to be. Prices for woolies rise in the fall and drop in the spring for a reason – notice Ellevill’s recent woolie clearance.
Don’t wear silk. As a blend, it tends to hold sweat. Most mamas don’t find silk cool or congenial in the heat. There are some exceptions – Didymos Silk Waves in particular – but mostly, steer clear.
Don’t wear dark colors. You wouldn’t think it matters much, but believe me: a dark wrap feels significantly hotter than a light one. Black’s marvelous for mopping up sweet tea (ask me how I know this), but not so great at keeping you and baby cool. Stick to lighter colors.
Don’t wear thick, dense, or beastly wraps. I’m not going to cite a gsm here, mostly because the definition for thick has been migrating ever upward. But again, common sense: you might think your Pavo Etini looks cool, but it probably won’t wrap cool. If you’re swathing yourself and your personal tiny furnace in yards of fabric, you want that fabric as thin as possible without sacrificing comfort. Even in a one-layer carry, thick, dense wraps will be hot. Take the time to wrap carefully instead of relying on a beast to do it for you. You can do it!
What To Wear
A lot of people have a lot of opinions, but basically: you want a wrap as thin as possible without sacrificing comfort. One-layer carries are ideal; something like a ruck tied at shoulder or a ruck tied tibetan will give you more support, and less butt poppage, without adding layers. In the heat, I like a double hammock tied at shoulder (only two layers over baby) or a kangaroo. Bonus: tibetan ties or double hammocks can serve as your shirt! I dare you. And bikini tops underneath don’t count, cheater.
Most mamas look first to gauze wraps. You can get them cheap on Etsy; however, those are likely to be serged, and serging isn’t as stable as hemming. If you decide to go gauze, Bali Breeze is the gold standard. Yes, you can wrap your beast child in gauze. I promise. However: it has almost no bounce, and can become diggy. You need to wrap very, very carefully, and gauze’s grip doesn’t make that super simple. But if you have the skills – and you will if you practice – gauze is great.
While you don’t need some fancy-schmancy blend to wrap in the heat, a lot of mamas recommend linen. Logic goes: linen is cool, therefore, you should wear linen in the summer. However, honestly – and I’m going to get stoned in the village square for this – I don’t find linen much cooler than cotton, if at all. Linen can feel ropey on the shoulders and lacks any bounce. I like bounce, and linen simply doesn’t have it. I contemplate buying Didy Agave every damn year, because it’s gorgeous, then remember I need bounce and stretch.
If you do go the linen route, make sure you keep it thin – Didymos agave, agate, or a thinner indio’s a good bet. A thick linen won’t do you much good; no one raves about the Didy 55s (Sunset, Azure, and Moss) as hot weather wraps. I suspect the linen=cool thing comes from the Before Time when we had very few wrap companies. Now, the diversity of blends and weaves and manufacturers means you can find supportive, cool cotton.
Go for airy, not dense. “Airy” means a looser weave, which allows air to circulate. I liked Inda Jani’s herringbone weave for that. On the other hand, Natibabys tend to feel dense as black holes (I once tried to hike in a Nati cashmere blend in June. That ended quick). On the higher-priced end of the spectrum, Warped and Wonderful wraps are also airy (some more than others, with fern more dense and flat). I prefer indios to ninos in the heat; I like thinner indios more than floofy ones. Didymos waves, with its loose (pull-prone) weave, is the classic airy wrap.
Thin is in. Yes, thin can dig. Yes, you need to wrap carefully. But the thinner the wrap, the cooler the wrap. You can wrap a toddler in a Vatanai Carenaro, a legendarily thin labyrinth. I don’t love them because they wrap super solidly, but lots of mamas do. Take your time, tighten strand-by-strand, learn an L-pull, and use your teeth. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go watch some Wrapping Rachel. You can do this, I promise. You don’t need a thick wrap to do it for you.
And now that you’ve read all this advice, you just want to know what brand, weave, and length to buy.
So Which Wrap?
Here’s my top recommendations for summer wraps. Keep in mind that these wraps tend to increase in price during the warmer months, at least on the secondary market.
The One Summer Wrap to Rule Them All: Mystic Petrol. It’s barely medium weight at 222 gsm. Didy’s 1975 weave is even airer than the traditional indio, the hemp support is icing on the cake, and the color’s straight TDF. Look for prices to soar on the secondary market come May.
And when they do soar, just throw your arms up, pick a color, and buy a thinner indio. The older the better. No one wants the old black tags anymore, which baffles all us old battleaxes. Floppy, thin, and airy = summer. Boom. Done. You can find just about any color, too.
You can go classic with Didymos waves – aqua waves seems to be the perennial fav, probably because it’s gorgeous, airy, floppy, and has the perfect floof-and-smoosh texture. Everyone should try waves at some point.
Need support for a toddler beast? Try Natural Hemp India, the thin version if you can find it (good luck). The light color makes up for some of the weight, though I’d keep it to a one-layer carry. This is the Mary Poppins of wraps: practically perfect in every way. If the light color scares you, you can try a Tekhni Olympos.
Budget version? Inda Jani. The Tiil Naranja they sent blew me away. Super airy and cushy, it’ll haul your toddler. Pick up a size four for under 85 bucks.
My co-leader swears by her Vatanai labyrinth. All of them are on the thin side, and they wrap solidly, with next to no bounce. They break into super softness and come in lots of pretty colors (I like the red and gold, because I’m a Gryffindor).
You can’t beat an Ellevill Zara. Somehow the wrap world has lost its love for zaras, which is tragic, because they wrap amazingly, with plenty of stretch, and the older ones get floppy and magical. I loved pretty much every zara I ever owned. Go for cotton. Go for older – try a natur or a moss or an ocean. Maybe tri-blue, which I’ve owned twice and sold twice and bitterly regret both times. Zara, I can’t quit you.
Zara feel to thin to you, and you’re terrified of thin? Go to an Ellevill jade. It’s thicker. But it’s bouncy and stretchy and grippy. The raised weave will be a touch airer than a zara, which helps make up for the thickness. The older the better, too – some newer jades are stiff and hard to break in. Perfect in a one-layer carry and a great beach wrap.
And if you need glam: Diva Milano. While every new company’s gone thick-crazy, Diva’s mostly stuck to thinner weaves. All cotton Venezianos are heaven, and plenty wide for your toddler. You can’t get much cooler than these babies – Italians know their fabric. Reticella Ulivo Dorato remains the one linen I loved.
Aaaaand yes, you just disagreed with nine-tenths of this post. Yes, I know someone hiked Death Valley in a dyed-black Pavo Parterre Moraine (345 gsm) and just felt peachy. Argue it out in the comments. What’s your go-to summer wrap?
If you like reading about babywearing with a side of snark, be sure to like Manic Pixie Dream Mama on Facebook!