**Disclosure Statement: I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.**
Today I am super excited to be bringing you a new review! For the past month or so, I have been putting a Wrapsody Breeze woven wrap through the paces. It has been the ONLY wrap I've used for the last 5 weeks, with my ever-growing 3 year old and my trusty demo-doll. And you know what, I love it! If I had a young baby and needed to pare down to only one wrap, this one would be a strong contender!
I have been wearing my children in a variety of carriers for nearly 8 years, and paying close attention to the baby carrier industry and the community of hobbyist wearers for nearly that long. During this time, I've seen many changes in the industry, the community, and the market. There has been a huge growth in the number and variety of carrier manufacturers, with new makers debuting every year, and some manufacturers closing up shop. Some manufacturers have remained constant with a dash of well-planned innovation. Wrapsody is one such manufacturer. It was founded in 2004 and its story is incredible and interwoven (see what I did there?) with the stories of the babywearing community and industry.
When companies approach me to do a review, I am choosy about who I say "yes" to. While doing a review may seem like fun (it is!), it is also a lot of work, and I want to be sure I am putting in that work for a company whose values align with my own. When Wrapsody asked if I was interested in writing a review, I was thrilled! Not only are they a long-time and well-respected manufacturer, they are well-known for their incredible mission that goes well beyond "just" making baby carriers. Wrapsody's core values integrate sustainability, evidence-based practice, collective responsibility and social justice, and supporting strong communities. I frequently refer to articles from their education section (the drop down menu from the "babywearing" tab on their website) and blog.
Wrapsody makes four different carriers (the Breeze, the Hybrid stretch wrap, the DuO water/sport wrap, and the Artisan ring sling) as well as wearable and functional clothing and accessories. They sent me their Breeze wrap, which is the original product upon which Wrapsody was founded. It is a woven wrap made of a gauze material. The words that come to mind when describing the Breeze are: lightweight, versatile, comfortable, and beautiful.
Lightweight: The Breeze is made of a gauzey cotton. When you hold it up to the light, you can easily see through the material, as the threads are not woven closely together. This means that it is lightweight, packs down very small (in a handy built-in pocket on one of the tails of the wrap), and it is breathable, which makes for cooler wearing for both child and caregiver. For warm-weather wearing or for babies or caregivers who "run hot," this is an excellent carrier!
Versatile: A woven wrap is the most versatile baby carrier, in that you can use it with any size baby or child, wrap the child on your front, hip, or back, and do a number of different types of carries that change how your body is bearing the child's weight as well as where the child is positioned. When my shoulders are achy, I can switch to a torso carry, and when I need to have the weight a little higher on my body and my child wants to see over my shoulder, I can do a rucksack carry. The Wrapsody Breeze can be used with children from newborn through 35 pounds. I used it to do a "babywearing challenge" to try out a number of different carries with my demo doll which is slightly larger than a newborn. I also used it with my 35 pound 3 year old. It is 24 inches wide, which makes it a great width for a newborn, infant, or small to average toddler, but I personally prefer a bit more width for my very tall and leggy child who prefers to snuggle deep in the wrap. (Wrapsody's Hybrid wrap is 30 inches wide which works a bit better for me).
Comfortable: In wrap "technical terms" the Breeze was quite moldable (this is my top personal preference out of all wrap qualities) as it snugly conformed to my body and my wearee's body easily, and it had a nice amount of grip (but not too much!) as the fabric easily held a slipknot and various multi-layer carries did not slide out of place, but it also was fairly easy to slide passes into place. One of the things I was worried about with the Breeze was whether it would be diggy since it was so thin. It wasn't, at least for me, but I could understand how it might be for some. I did have to be sure to carefully tighten or pull out the slack from each pass in order for the fabric to lay comfortably, but as long as I did that, it wasn't diggy at all. I would argue that the Breeze (or the Wrapsody Hybrid) is a wonderful first or only wrap because it will help you develop precise wrapping technique!
Beautiful: Wrapsody Breeze wraps are known for their lovely hand-dyed and batik colorways. According to the company they are manufactured in Bali, Indonesia by a small business owned by a single mother (another great reason to support this company!). Many of the designs have an organic feel to them, so they align with my aesthetic preferences. Some retailers who carry Wrapsody have exclusive colorways, and there are also some commemorative colorways honoring an organization or a specific person. There a variety of colors from bright to soft, muted to saturated, dark to light. There are not a lot of geometric or ultra-modern designs, so if that is more your style, Wrapsody might not be your cup of tea. One feature that I love is that many of the designs have different colors along each rail, or a gradation that spans the width of the wrap. This makes Wrapsody wraps (both the Breeze and the Hybrid) really excellent for learning to wrap. I love using them to teach new wrappers! (if you want to learn to use a carrier, you can find a babywearing group via this list compiled by Wrapsody, and if you'd like to start your own group to help other caregivers and babies, you can use this guide!)
Things to know about Wrapsody wraps: There are a couple things that Wrapsody does differently from many other woven wrap companies, notably their sizing and instructions. Wrapsody offers three different sizes of Breeze wraps, ranging from 4.6 meters to 5.5 meters. This size range allows for most caregivers to have a Breeze in their "base" size (the size that lets you do Front Wrap Cross Carry without having too much leftover tail). Very petite or slim caregivers might find even the smallest size to be a bit long. Typically, you can use up a bit of extra length by doing a fancy finish or by adding some reinforcing passes around the baby or tied around your waist. It is possible to "chop" a Breeze to make a shorter wrap. I personally would use the extra length to add extra passes. Additionally, the instructions booklet may be a bit confusing, as it uses different names for carries and positions than the generally accepted names in the community. One example of this is Wrapsody's "Hip Pouch" carry, which is called "Robin's Hip Carry" in nearly every instructional YouTube video demonstrating this particular carry. (Wrapsody does have video instructions on its site for all of the carries in the instruction book). This may be fine for those who know different carries already, but confusing for those who are trying to look up videos.
The bottom line
In short, the Wrapsody Breeze is a wonderfully lightweight and versatile woven wrap that is excellent for newborns, infants, and average to shorter toddlers. It shines in carries that have cross passes, sling passes, and torso passes. It would not be my first choice for carries that involve ruck straps with heavy babies, and I did not love it with my very tall 3 year old.
It would be a wonderful first woven wrap for those who are committed to learn to wrap with care, or a nice addition to a carrier stash for those who are wanting something lightweight.. It is different from any other wrap I've tried (I've tried MANY), and I loved it! If you haven't tried a Breeze, this summer would be the ideal time to change that! Wrapsody would love to welcome you to their online family!
What if I told you that there was a wonderful type of carrier that is:
Would you jump at the chance to try it? Guess what? There is! It is the mei tai.
A mei tai (pronounced "may tie"), simply put, is a baby carrier constructed of a panel (often rectangular) with four straps, one strap at each corner. Two of the straps are tied around the waist, and two of the straps go over the shoulders, cross the wearer's back, and back around to the front, where they may be tied. For a back carry, they may go over the shoulders, cross the front (some men prefer this way) or straight down like backpack straps, back across the baby's back, and back around to the front where they are tied off. The mei tai originates from China, and this source tells us the name means "to carry on the shoulders with a strap."
Adjustable, Easy, and Versatile
Mei tais are much more adjustable than buckle carriers, which are more "fixed." For a newborn or small baby, you can safely and easily narrow the bottom of the panel, if needed to provide a comfortable seat without spreading baby's legs too far. You can roll the waist to make a shorter panel so baby isn't swallowed by the panel like he would be in a standard size buckle carrier. You can change the angle and function of how the straps cross over and support your baby so you can easily and comfortably trade a mei tai between wearers. Mei tais are generally easier to use than wraps and ring slings, and fairly comparable to buckle carriers for ease of use.
Mei tais can be used as baby grows. You can change how the straps support your baby. If you want to venture away from front carries, you can do a hip carry that is generally more comfortable than doing one with a buckle carrier, and you can do a back carry high enough to allow baby to peek over your shoulder while awake, or to rest his head on the back of your neck when he falls asleep. If you want to have only one baby carrier for newborn through toddler days, this might be a great option for you!
Types and Brands of Mei Tais
There are very simple mei tais, made from canvas or other heavy cloth, with minimal padding. Some mei tais have padding at the waist or on the shoulder straps, and some have wide straps that mimic the function of a woven wrap. These are typically made with woven wrap material, though occasionally linen or other fabric that performs similarly. You will occasionally see a few extra features on both types, including headrests, sleep hoods, toy loops, infant inserts, cinching mechanisms, and more.
Some of the more commonly available and popular simpler canvas mei tais are: Catbird Baby, BabyHawk, and Infantino Sash. Catbird Baby and BabyHawk are generally described as more comfortable and able to be used longer than the less expensive Infantino. All of them function the same and are perfectly safe when used correctly.
There are a variety of easily obtained mei tais made from wrap material on the market. Currently, these include: Soul's Soul Tai, Girasol's MySol, Didymos' DidyTai, Babylonia USA's BBTai, Fidella's Fly Tai, Lenny Lamb, Chimparoo, Topatop, BaBySaBye. and more! The price point on these is comparable or a bit higher than the higher quality canvas mei tais. Many of these have wide straps that can provide extra support around your shoulders and under baby's bottom.
In summary, if you are looking for a carrier that is adjustable from newborn through toddler wearing, adaptable to various body types, and fairly easy to use comfortably, consider a mei tai!
Beth. The babywearing lady.
copyright 2016 Beth Secrist
All photos used under the Creative Commons license through Flickr. Photography by: littletuesday12