Terms of babywearing: Supportive Wrap


We often meet term “supportive” in wraps’ selling advertisements. Instinctively, it is stood to reason, and normally there are no questions. We use the term “supportive” to mean capacity of wrap to keep the weight of a heavy child. Nevertheless, there are some mistakes of comprehension in this simplicity.

First, it should be pointed out, that nearly all wraps are able to carry a load far beyond weight of a child. When I bought my first sling, I’ve conducted an experiment: hung it as a hammock and asked my hubby to swing in it. My husband is a rather stout person, about 100 kg.

Of course, no bones were broken, the wrap was safe and sound. But does it mean that I may carry one-hundred-kilo weight in the wrap? Of course, not. I’ll be broken down. So, we come to the conclusion, that technically ability of a wrap to carry big weight is no really matter when carrying babies.

What does it mean – supportive wrap?

Mom and her center of gravity

There are different body types, the mostly common classification is dividing to “apple”, “pear”, “hourglass” and “banana”. Even in this rough classification we may see, that people have different body’s proportions.

Babywearing Supportive woven wrap wrapcollection Women body types

Centre of gravity depends on the proportions. “Pear” has this center a bit lower, “banana” type – a bit upper. It may be uncomfortable for “hourglass” to carry baby on waist line, she will shift him a bit up or down. An “apple” type may feel uncomfortable with Rucksack carry and Double hammock will be ok.

Babywearing Supportive woven wrap wrapcollection Women body types

Furthermore, we should mention, that different people have different body proportions, but inside of these schemes may have different peculiarities. Somebody has wide back, somebody has big breast or high hips and racy middle, or sloping shoulders. And distribution of baby’s weight, when he is carried in a wrap, will depend on these peculiarities. A mother will correct the wrap intuitive, without thinking about the reasons, just because it is more comfortable.

The child in the growth dynamics

But not only mother is taking part in wrapping. A baby also influences the process.

Let’s start from the point, that baby’s weight according to pediatric standards, should double to his or her 6 months, and triple to 12 months (of course it’s approximately) . And baby grows nonlinearly. Baby grows without keeping proportions of a newborn. Proportions of his head and body is changing, his legs and arms are becoming longer. His weight reallocates.

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In other words, baby’s center of gravity always shifts.

Let’s change a little bit this theoretic subject.
My sister and I born our sons nearly simultaneously. The boys’ weights to their 12 months were 12 and 12,5 kilos. However, I couldn’t lift up my nephew, who was half a kilo heavier than my son. His center of gravity was lower. My nephew looked like a big kettlebell (or pear). And my son looked like a cylinder. I felt like there was not half a kilo, but 3 or 4 kilos difference between them.

Various solutions

What is going on, when we have: a mom with her own body’s peculiarities, a baby, who changes his weight and proportions and a sling? From this point originates the term “supportive”.
Not long ago I’ve heard an opinion, that toddlers’ mothers considered all wraps supportive as they got adjusted to their babies’ weight and they might carry in everything.

One cannot get used to carry heavy weight – your body is under changing load. A sportsman, who lifts the bar, doesn’t go shopping with this bar and to other places, where he has to bend, take off his clothes, sit and get up. One cannot cook with a bar. Even if a sportsman is adjusted to bar’s weight and lifts it every day!


A baby changes his center of gravity unlike with a bar, learns to walk and feels the balance. A toddler, who starts to run, keeps in a wrap like a jockey – cuddles together his mother, absorb bending and turning etc.

Babywearing after 12 months is a fruit of common labor. This is proved by many moms, who complain, that their toddler doesn’t want to be wrapped, weaken wrapjob, writhe himself free. I highly advise to all sceptics to keep on arms a 12 months old toddler and a 6 months old baby with little difference in weight – you’ll see that they keep in different ways, how differently we feel their weight.

Sometimes it is more comfortable to carry a heavy toddler, than a 6-10 months baby.

Uralskiy slingobranch Ekaterinburg 2016 Uralskiy slingobranch Ekaterinburg 2016 Uralskiy slingobranch Ekaterinburg 2016

That way, carrying of a baby either in hands or in a wrap depends on mom’s body type, baby’s body type and stage of physical development, and even on mood and phase of activity (sleep or wakeful).

There is a task for a mom to unite two physical objects, baby and herself, in the most convenient manner, taking into consideration:

  • clothes
  • purpose of babywearing (to the shop or to the car or hospital, for a walk etc.)
  • phase of activity
  • age of a baby\toddler
  • physiological state
  • season

In order to solve the task, mother should use different wraps in different length and in different manners. In other words, two objects have to be united in the best critical point and with minimal gap. Then the load to main carrier will be minimized. Just to translate from technical language – mother will be able to carry her baby in a wrap longer and safety. Mom will be more supportive in accordance with wrapjob quality, taking into consideration peculiarities of her baby.

Fabric support

As you may see, we do not discuss wraps, besides cloth’s ability to carry more than baby’s weight. After we’ve understood, that a wrap’s function is to unite mom and baby, it is easier to discuss the term “supportive”.

It is commonly understood more dense wrap as more supportive. Such slings are more difficult to wrap carefully, more difficult to tighten it. Whereas thinner wraps are more pliable.

I call wraps with hemp and linen “baskets”, because of bounce absence due to plant fibers. And if weaving is grippy, they really resemble baskets. Some kinds of cotton, wool and silk have internal bounce and the cloth is stretching, absorb shake when walking. Some wraps are more grippy, regulating worse, but do not slip. Some wraps are plain and regulating better. But all these cloth qualities have particular value in in each individual case and in each stage of physical development. There is no universal formula of “supportiveness”, there is no universal advice. You should listen to your feelings and your needs.

babywearing twinsWhen I was wearing my twins, I used different wraps for them. For weighty and big-boned Dunya I used compact wraps with hemp or linen, for smaller and thinner Ulyana – light cottons and silks. I had to balance simultaneously two different children, in such a way I may carry them without trending forward or backward. I had to move easy and look after other two children. Using different cloth qualities I could achieve balance and that gave feeling of ease when I was carrying twins.

I should underline the necessity of technical skills of wrapping*, without them it is no use to look for a wrap with necessary features. One is solving a task to make babies’ weight more comfortable for a mom. For example, there is a risk of imbalance with a thick wrap. And there is a risk of overtighten under legs or deform M-position.

(*) In order to master wrapping, it is advised to get a qualified consultation, you may do it via Skype. Video – and foto- tutorials give general overview about wrapping and steps of wrapping. Individual approach is possible only in personal consultation.

But why did the term “supportive wrap” arise and why is it used so often, when such a parameter as “supportiveness” does not exist? The reason is – we all hope for miracles And we are dreaming of wraps, which may carry by themselves. And the term is so cool and capacious, that one cannot refuse it.

Carry you darlings with love! And intelligently :-)

Text: Nina Arkhipova.
Translation by Marina Zheleznitskaya.
Photo: Anastasia Khokhlova, Sofia Nasyrova,
Nina Arkhipova.
Illustrations: Julia Nurmagambetova.

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