One of the most confusing elements of wrapping for a new babywearer is sizing. I remember when I first stepped into the wrapping arena. I was browsing the pretties on a buy/swap/sell group, and noticed mainly size 6s for sale. “Oh no,” I lamented to myself at the time. “I’m nowhere near a size 6. I hope they’ve got bigger sizes available.”
I wasn’t referring to wrap sizes, of course, but clothing size. I know I’m not the only one to make this mistake!
So briefly, wraps can come in sizes 1 up to 9, but are generally stocked by vendors in sizes 2-8. Base sizes are generally sizes 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9. The table below shows the differences in these sizes.
Wrapping carries are explained using sizes. Currently, there are many wrapping tutorials that indicate how to do a particular carry using a specific wrap size; for example, a Front Wrap Cross Carry (FWCC) is often demonstrated using a size 6 wrap. It isn’t surprising, therefore, that it is a common misconception when searching for your first wrap to buy a size 6.
Frustration and confusion will occur, then, when someone purchases a size 6 wrap and is overwhelmed by the length of the fabric, because they didn’t need such a long wrap in the first place; or, when they cannot complete the carry because they needed more length.
In order to best facilitate new wrappers, and not alienate them by the purchasing of an incorrect wrap size, how do we overcome this dilemma?
One way that is being adopted in some groups is to refer to carries by their base, base - (minus), or base + (plus) size. A ‘base’ size wrap is one that you can comfortably do a FWCC with, tying at your back. If your base size is a size 6, then looking at a base -1 would be a size 5, a base -2 would be a size 4, and so on and so forth.
There are a few different ways you can go about establishing your base size. Probably the most successful method is to attend a babywearing meet in your area. There, you can try a few different sized wraps on, and obtain assistance with babywearing in general. Being able to attend a babywearing meet isn’t always feasible, however; so with that in mind, here are some other suggestions for finding your base size:
- Consider your body measurements - If you have broad shoulders or a large bust, you may need a larger base size.
- Consider your wrappee’s measurements - you may need to go up a base size as your wrappee gets bigger.
- If you are plus sized, you’ll likely need a size 7 or 8.
- If you are both plus sized and tall, or a male who is both large and tall, then a size 9 might suit you.
It should also be noted that babywearing is a journey - what may be your base size now, may not work for you in a few month’s time! As your wearee grows, so may your base size. It is very common to gain a base size as your wrappee is aged around 18mths-2yrs. On the other hand, as you become more proficient with wrapping over time you may find you perhaps need less length than you originally anticipated, due to your tightening skills improving.
Requiring a longer base size isn’t something to be shamed for. Inclusivity movements in babywearing affirm that there is no one singular type of body shape or size that babywears - all types are accommodated for and should be recognised as being valid. So, if you are requiring a longer base size (as I am now that my baby is a toddler), you shouldn’t feel that this is some kind of reflection on your body shape or size.
As wrap companies are beginning to understand through the more regular offering of longer wraps, there is no ‘one base size fits all’ when it comes to wrapping. Ideally, trying out a few different sized wraps is the best way to establish what works for you and your wrappee, whether that be by borrowing from a friend, or getting along to a local meet; but where this isn’t possible, chatting to others who have a similar body shape, and sized wearee, may also be beneficial. With a better idea of base size, beginning wrappers will likely feel more confident in using this type of carrier for their babywearing.
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