Saturday, October 11, 2014

International Babywearing Week 2014, Day 1: Hands-Free Comfort

To celebrate International Babywearing Week, and to get back into the habit of posting on my blog, I plan to make a series of posts about various aspects of babywearing. I started off doing this on Facebook, but I thought why not post on the blog too? So this is Sunday's post, with some additional fleshing-out. :)

Having EDS (and the other health issues that go along with it) makes holding and carrying Baby Nae for any length of time difficult and often painful for me. I'm so thankful for the wraps and other babywearing devices that allow me to hold her as needed without undue strain and damage to my back, shoulders and other joints. It's taken some trial and error to figure out which carriers and methods of wrapping work well for me and distribute the weight without causing pressure points or extra pain, but they make life so much more manageable.

Tonight babywearing worked to get a sick, fussy, restless baby finally soothed to sleep by being wrapped up. She's cutting multiple teeth and has a cold, poor thing. And was wide awake for several hours after a brief nap in the car on the way home this evening. Often being wrapped will soothe Nae and get her to sleep when nothing else will. I think being comfortably and gently restrained with even body pressure from the wrap is calming for babies and helps them relax and fall asleep.

In the above photo I'm wearing the wrap in a carry called the Kangaroo carry, which is my favorite front carry because it's easy for me to get snug and secure, it is a fairly simple carry to tie (once you get the shoulder flip down), you don't have to put the baby down to tie it, it's not too hot with only one layer of fabric over baby, and it's relatively easy to get a sleeping baby in and out of without waking her. I can't find a video that shows how to do it in the way I personally find easiest, so I might have to make one. :)

This wrap is a size Medium (4.6 meter, equivalent to size 6) Lenny Lamb jacquard woven wrap in the colorway (name for the color and pattern) called Eclipse Black & Yellow. This is a substantial, 100% cotton wrap that is on the heavier side at about 280 g/m2 . . . it's workable new, but would definitely benefit from some breaking in. I'm not finding it too hard to wrap and tie with after a wash, line dry and steam iron, but I think it will soften and improve more from where it is now, as I haven't used it much yet.

It feels very substantial and supportive, and is a fairly dense and tapestry-like weave. If you prefer a more dense and solid feel without too much "give" or bounce in a wrap and like solid support, this may be the wrap for you. I really love the look of it, and it looks lovely in a carry that shows the pattern in reverse colors on the back side. (This was my very first attempt at a Jordan's back carry with a ring finish, so please excuse the sloppy wrap job.) Eclipse seems about midrange to me as far as how long it seems to be taking to break in compared to the other brands such as Didymos and Natibaby wraps I've bought new. I can definitely tell it's getting softer with each use.

The Eclipse pattern seems to be mostly sold out, but as of this writing they do still have it at a discount in the outlet in both black and yellow, and also in a turquoise and white version.

Lenny Lamb is a newer brand, and they have gorgeous wraps that for the most part fall into the budget category--you can get a LL wrap in their basic broken twill weave with shipping from Poland included for well under $100, and at approximately 220 g/m2 their basic twill weave wraps are a nice weight, with a bit more beefiness and cush than similarly-priced broken twill wraps I've tried from other companies.

Their patterns are absolutely gorgeous and I've been impressed with the quality and feel of even the "grade B" discounted items I've purchased from their outlet (which have some sort of cosmetic flaw such as a weaver's knot or small pull that doesn't affect the safety or use of the wrap at all). 

They regularly have a coupon code for up to a 15% discount, linked from the Discount Area of their website (look for the "special coupon" link at the top of the page). And, once you make a purchase you automatically get an affiliate link (for instance, my affiliate link to their homepage would be ) that gives you a credit toward a future purchase for a percentage of purchases made through your link. As of this writing, they even give you a percentage of your current purchase as an automatic credit you can use on your next purchase.

Do note that the prices are in Polish Zloty (PLN) rather than dollars. You can find out what the equivalent to US currency is at today's conversion rates by typing "convert PLN to USD" into Google. A little conversion widget will pop up, accompanied by a graph showing the conversion rate over the past several years. Just put the amount you want to convert in and it will tell you that, for instance, today 200 Polish Zloty equals approximately $60.47 in U.S. Dollars.

I found my Lenny Lamb Autumn 100% cotton broken twill wrap soft and easy to break in (it was pretty soft and easy to wrap with after the initial wash/dry/iron), with decent cush for the weight. I felt it had a good balance of density and texture--grippy enough to hold a knot well without being difficult to pull passes across, and was easy to wrap without being as diggy as thinner wraps can be. It was still a bit lighter-weight than I prefer (I like really thick marshmallowy wraps), but I would recommend it as a basic budget wrap and an excellent beginner wrap.

I've tried several Little Frog wraps for comparison, and in general I personally prefer Lenny Lamb's broken twill over Little Frog's at a similar price point.

Lenny Lamb's basic twill is thicker and beefier than Little Frog's thinnest line, and feels a bit softer and more comfortable to me than LF's heavier 100% cotton broken twill wraps while having fairly comparable substance. Little Frog's lowest price tier wraps are geared more toward younger babies, and are excellent for that--soft, beautiful, easy to break in and easy to tie. But at 190-210 g/m2 the thinner LFs are not as toddler-worthy as a slightly heavier wrap would be, and tend to be more diggy with an older baby. (For more of my take on Little Frog wraps, see here:

The photo below shows Lenny Lamb's basic broken twill on the left,  and Little Frog's heavier weight broken twill on the right. There's another close-up of the weaves from a different angle in my Little Frog post.

There's generally a bit of a tradeoff in finding the balance between factors like cush and moldability, support and softness, firmess and bounce, grippiness and ease of wrapping. Different people will find their own sweet spot in different wraps, with much variation even within a brand in how a given wrap combines the various characteristics that determine how it feels, looks and wraps. One person's favorite wrap may be one someone else doesn't like at all, so going to a babywearing meetup to try them out for yourself is always helpful. :)

One thing I do like better about Little Frog is that their wraps have middle markers on both top and bottom rails, whereas at least some of Lenny Lamb's designs have a middle marker on only one rail. However, Lenny Lamb does have excellent customer service and said they could send me an extra middle marker to sew on along with my next order. 

Another thing to take note of is that, as of this writing, many of the Lenny Lamb striped wraps are the same color on both rails, as are some of the Little Frog colorways. While the stripes still help learning wrappers in knowing which part to pull on to tighten out slack, many beginners will find it helpful to have either different colored rails, or a pattern which is a different color on the back of the wrap than the front. 

So that's something to watch for when choosing a wrap from any company.  Both Little Frog and Lenny Lamb have some colorways that have different color rails, directional prints, and/or different colors on the front and back of the wrap, and I find this immensely helpful in knowing whether I have the rails twisted or not. :) 

Both brands have tapered tails, which I also find helpful.

I think Lenny Lamb Autumn feels similar to the approximately 240 g/m2 all-cotton Little Frog Flourite, but slightly softer and less dense. Although it's supposedly lighter weight than Flourite, Lenny Lamb's Autumn just looks and feels somehow a little fluffier to me. I have a size 7 Autumn and find it decently comfortable for 30 minutes or more with my 10-month-old in a double hammock, though my thicker cotton wraps (Inda Jani Binni Rayado and Lenny Lamb Galleons, both in the 290-300 g/m2 range) and my size 7 hemp-blend Natibaby  pink Reflection wrap (which I  usually wear in a double hammock) are my favorites for the most long-term comfort with my picky shoulders.

Their all-cotton wraps are generally going to be best for bigger babies and toddlers, but Lenny Lamb also makes bamboo blend wraps which I hear are amazingly soft and buttery and cuddly for a newborn. I have one of those on my "want" list if we ever have another baby. :) I hear very good things also about their ergonomic carriers, which seem to be very popular.

Lenny Lamb's limited-edition jacquard wraps are heavier and more detailed in the weave, but still fall into a very moderately priced range. They range from fairly thin and dense, such as the Twisted Leaves patterns, to at least as thick as 290-300 g/m2, such as Galleons. 

In a jacquard weave, the patterns are not printed on the fabric, but rather created by weaving threads of different colors together to make a pattern that is visible on both sides of the fabric (though the colors are reversed on the back). Lenny Lamb has taken this technique to a whole new level with the amazingly detailed artistry of their patterns. They have even started reproducing works of art such as this beautiful Rennaisance painting, Man of War Between Two Galleys by Pieter Breugel the Elder, on wraps. 

I got the opportunity to try someone else's Lenny Lamb Galleons wrap that had only been through its first wash and worn maybe a couple of times. Even though it's on the heavier side, with its slightly looser weave I found it quite comfy and easy to wrap with right off the bat. The cushy shoulder feel and ease of wrapping were quite surprising in a wrap that new in a more substantial weight range like that--the owner said she was impressed with how it wrapped without much breaking in, too. 

I ended up buying a Galleons of my own, and after using it for a while I'm blown away by the way it feels and wraps. I like my other Lenny Lamb wraps too but I like Galleons the best of nearly any 100% cotton wrap in any brand that I've had the opportunity to try . . . it is just such a nice balance of supportive and cushy, not too hard to wrap or terribly pull-prone without being super dense. It's one of the cushiest all-cotton wraps I've felt, and it is surprisingly moldable and easy to wrap and tie for its weight of

To me Galleons seems less dense than Eclipse, with longer stitches and thicker thread with more airiness in the weave, which makes it feel softer and gives it more flexibility and a spongier texture even before breaking in. As I use it more, it is definitely softening and getting floppier and even better--I am looking forward to seeing what it's like when it's totally broken in.

I admittedly have very little experience and am somewhat of a wrapping newbie, but Galleons reminds me in feel and wrapping quality a bit of the handwoven wraps I've had the opportunity to try, more than any of the other machine-woven wraps I've tried so far. It has almost as much cush and shoulder comfort as my budget handwoven Inda Jani Binni Rayado which is about the same weight in g/m2, but without so much bulk and grip, which in combination with the tapered tails makes it easier to wrap and tie.

I am able to tolerate single-layer and one-shoulder carries in Galleons for much longer than most other wraps I've tried, and I can actually wear it in usually-problematic-for-me carries such as a ruck tied knotless Tibetan and Poppins for about as long if not longer as my softest hemp-blend Natibaby wrap, and definitely longer than some of my other hemp blends that aren't yet as broken in. I usually have trouble with one-layer and one-shoulder carries for any length of time, so this is pretty significant for me.

My Galleons is turquoise and navy in a size XS (size 4, which is 3.6 meters) and it's really more of a sky blue or bright turquoise as opposed to the deeper teal color I was expecting, but it's really beautiful and the fabric has a sheen that makes it almost luminous when the light hits it. Here's a comparison photo of the Galleons Navy Blue & Ecru next to Galleons Navy Blue & Turquoise in indoor light without camera flash.

It's a directional wrap, with a definite right-side-up way to wear it, but the colors and textures still look neat even on the reverse side and if you accidentally wrap it upside-down, as I'm sure to do occasionally:

Lenny Lamb has also recently released another new wrap based on a piece of artwork, called Horizon's Verge. Since it's close to the same weight at 280 g/m2, is the same type of artistic piece, and the same price as the Galleons wraps, my best guess would be that it might be similar in type and wrapping qualities. I talked to someone who bought one, and she said that it was so soft and floppy even in loom state that she literally gasped when she took it out of the bag.

Here's where I found the weight and also some more closeup photos of the fabric:²?rid=19435

Having a wrap that is beautiful and collectible as well as practical isn't necessary to carry your baby, but it's sure enjoyable. :) And with a wrap like Galleons, the wrapping quality for the price is in my opinion very good.

Disclosure: I was not asked or paid to write about Lenny Lamb products on my blog; I just chose to do so because I like them. I do get a credit toward a future purchase if someone uses the links here to buy something. :)

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