I have been playing with ERGObaby’s new hybrid stretchy wrap over the last few weeks, taken it to sling meets, my sling library drop ins, a few training courses (my own Born to Carry Peer Supporter course and a Slingababy consultants update course), so it has had quite a work out!
ERGObaby needs no introduction as one of the leading brands of soft structured carrier, which is widely available in high street stores, and this company has long promoted safe, hip-healthy carrying of babies facing inwards on the front, on the hip or on the back.
So it is no surprise to find that their stretchy wrap is excellent. It is a hybrid wrap, in the same vein as the well-known and well-loved Je Porte Mon Bebe and the Wrapsody stretchies – combining the benefits of stretchy wraps with woven wraps.
Typical stretchy wraps are elastic, with varying degrees of bounce-back, and once a child is heavy enough to stretch the elastic fibres to their full extent, this bounce back is lost and baby begins to feel heavy. This is often the point at which parents begin to look for their next carrier, one that feels more supportive. Those parents and babies who have loved the snuggly, all-over cuddly feel of their stretchy wrap will often move onto a woven wrap, others to a soft structured carrier.
This is the stage at which hybrid stretchy wraps come into their own. They have the elasticity that allows pre-tying where required, but are also strong and sturdy like woven wraps, so will be supportive for much longer than a standard stretchy. They need to be tightened differently than standard wovens, but can be extremely comfortable due to their enormous mouldability (a feature that is highly prized in woven wraps). It is rare to get shoulder digging with a stretchy (or hybrid) because of this, as the fabric can be stretched out for easy spreading and wide smooth distribution across the child’s body and across the wearer’s back and shoulders.
The Ergo wrap is wide – almost as wide as the better known JPMBB hybrid (grey and blue pocket), and wider than the Hana Baby (royal blue) and the Moby (dark blue on the end). This means that it does feels bulky with small babies, compared to the thinner Moby wraps, the Boba wrap and the Hana Baby wrap, for example. It is comparable to all of them in length.
Ergo talks about its 4D stretch, which I take to mean that it stretches horizontally, as well as widthways, ie a “two way stretchy” – akin to the JPMBB, Boba and Hana, for example, as compared to the one-way stretchies (usually only stretch widthways, like the Moby, the ByKay, for example). The two way stretchies are more manoeuvrable when putting baby in (their stretch allows the wrap to be pulled out and moved around a baby who is in the ideal position, and then spring back, rather than baby’s limbs having to be moved into the correct places), but if they are too stretchy they can lack support for the heavier child (over six months).
The Ergo wrap is very supportive, as it is dense, with not a huge amount of stretch. It has a reasonable amount of elasticity – so it does bounce back well, but is never overstretched. It is very comfortable due to its mouldability and supportiveness. It isn’t as thick as the JPMBB but is fairly hard to work with; more so than the lighterweight stretchies like the Hana Baby wrap. It has less bounce, which many people may prefer, if it makes their babies feel more secure. It not as soft and snuggly as some, which may be a consideration for very small babies.
The Ergo wrap is superb with babies beyond six months of age, and toddlers. There is no sagging or slipping downwards if the carrier is put on properly (with all the slack removed at the start, just as for all stretchy wraps) and even my big 3 year old was very well supported all the way round. This is where the width comes in useful – supporting from the kneepit to the neck, and my back was very happy too as there was a lot of weight distribution across the whole of my upper body. Maggie and I really enjoyed the snuggly cuddles.
I think this is a great option for parents who love stretchy wraps and want to be able to use one beyond the typical six months that people use their stretchies for, especially for front carrying cuddles. Many children value being in front carries for some time for sleeping, or being close to their caregiver or when they are unwell – not everyone wants to move into back carrying with buckles very early. This Ergowrap will be a welcome addition to a good library collection, especially for bigger babies. I don’t think (as they say on their website) that there will be any need to move up to a structured buckle carrier at 6 months if you have one of these wraps, which has been safety tested up to 14kg (my little girl is 12 kg).
Their video instructions are excellent (http://store.ergobaby.com/wraps#instructional-videos) and the pregnancy tie may be of great help to some mums. As with anything, such belly wrapping is best used in moderation!
It retails for about £60.