Woven wrap sizing is an issue that easily overwhelms novice babywearers and our local babywearing group gets regular questions about wrap sizing. Questions are ok. What saddens me is when I see a mama buy the wrong size wrap, then have to resell it in order to purchase the right size one. So much snuggle-time wasted for an issue that could have been easily avoided!
While many seasoned babywearers will own wraps in every size just because, most parents will want to invest in one or two versatile woven wraps. Picking the right size right away will determine whether they will take to wrapping or not.
The first principle of woven wraps is that you can chop them but you can’t grow them. When in doubt, go with the larger size. The second principle of woven wraps is that while they are the most versatile carrier of the babywearing world, not one size will allow you to do everything well. (Hey, how do you think we end-up with a stash??) The goal of sizing is thus to find the best size of wrap for the kind of use you want to make of it. The third principle of babywearing is that the best size is the size you will use, or, in other words , all tastes are in nature. Some petite mamas prefer to wrap in oodles of layers, some fluffier mamas can make frugal wonders with a shorter wrap. Whatever floats your boat: this is not a salvation issue.
The wider world of woven wraps has adopted the size charts initially introduced by baby wrap Grande-Dame Dydimos. Wraps come in 6 standard size going from 2 to 7. Sizes 1 and 8 are also on the market but rarely seen. Each size corresponds to a different wrap length. Width varies from 45 cm (12″) to 75 cm (30″) but is rarely advertised.
Size 2 is 2.7 m
Size 3 is 3.2 m
Size 4 is 3.7 m
Size 5 is 4.2 m
Size 6 is 4.7 m
Size 7 is 5.2 m
Some wrap-makers treat these measurements as guidelines and we often see “long” or “short” wraps of any given size. I once had two size 5 wraps from Dydimos. I could (just) tie a full double hammock with Marigold and couldn’t even make the tails touch with Petrol Hemp Indio. I also have a size 7 Oscha linen grad that measures almost 6m.
The way I like to explain wrap sizing to mamas who are woven curious is to split sizes in two groups. Sizes 2,3,4 are short wraps used for short wrap carries. Sizes 5,6,7 are long wraps used for long wrap carries. The first determinant of which size you need, is the type of carries that you want to do.
Short wraps are used for hip carries and single shoulder carries such as the Poppins. They can also be used for simple back carries such as the ruck or the Jordan and petite mamas will even be able to use them for layered carries such as the Double Hammock. Short wraps are easier to carry around and use in malls or parking lots but they often exclude the most supportive type of carries one would favour for long-haul babywearing (hiking, sightseeing) or if you expect to carry your baby over her nap time for instance. I am a medium-sized mama (medium tops, nursing bras in the C-cup range, size 8-10 bottoms with a significant twin muffin-top) and my most versatile wrap is a size 4: I can use it for one-shoulder carries and a few back carries like a double hammock tied at shoulder, a reinforced ruck tied Tibetan and a Jordan’s back carry.
Long wrap carries are what new babywearers try to master first because they are more supportive and the multiple layering is more forgiving of mistakes. However, a 5.2m-long wrap can be intimidating. Choosing a wrap that is way too long may mean a steeper learning curve; on the other hand, new wrappers use-up a lot of fabric: choosing a wrap that is not long enough may limit a mama’s learning ability. I can now use my size 4 wrap in ways that required a size 5 or 6 not that long ago. As you get better, you will become more efficient.
Once you have an idea of the type of carries you want to use (you can learn more by using this helpful chart or the Dydimos sizing chart ) you will want to choose a wrap according to your own size. I like to split the short wraps and long wraps into small, medium, large shirt sizes where the lower number corresponds to a small shirt size and the higher number corresponds to a large shirt size. In other words, if you are a petite mama with her heart set on a long woven, you will choose a size 5. Average size mamas are usually satisfied with a size 6 wrap and fluffier mamas will need a 7 to take full advantage of their woven wrap. The same goes for the short wraps, where a size 2 corresponds to a small shirt size, a size 3 is a medium and a size 4 is a large. A large short wrap. Makes sense?
When in doubt, go with the longer size. And remember that wraps have an excellent resale value. If you buy a wrap that is too long or too short, you should be able to resell it for most of what you paid.
These guidelines are useful for mamas who are hoping to buy one versatile wrap. Many wrappers like to own wraps in different sizes to have a range of possibilities. I built my stash jumping sizes by two: I started with a size 6, then got a size 4 and I now have a size 2 on the way. I’m also keeping two size 7 for conversion into custom preschooler-sized soft-structured carriers: I expect that we’ll be carrying the twins for a good long while!