I wore my daughter regularly until she was at least 18 months old. Even then, I wore her once in awhile--especially when she was particularly cranky. It was something I absolutely cherished. I loved having her cuddled close enough to me that I could feel her breathing and kiss her downy, soft head, but also have my hands free. It was also a good way to keep her inside my personal bubble and away from germy hands dying to touch her.
My baby carrier of choice was the Moby Wrap. There are a couple of wraps like it, and they all have the same basic principle: one very long piece of knit fabric that is stretchy in the width but not the length, and is tapered in at either end. The only sewing done on a Moby Wrap or similar carrier is the serged edge, and honestly, with knit fabrics, that's only an aesthetic touch.
My daughter may or may not remember being worn by me, but she does remember when I was babysitting an infant and I wore him in the wrap in order to calm him down and facilitate sleep. Ever since that day, she's found ways of wearing her babies. At first, she just stuffed them into her shirts. Later, she buttoned them into her sweaters. Finally, she found scarves and tied them to herself, sling style. Her reasoning for doing this was: “This way, Mommy, they're attached to me all the time!” It made perfect sense to her for the same reasons it made perfect sense for me.
A couple of weeks ago, we were planning on going to a fair that my school throws every year and Bunny insisted that she must bring a baby doll. Well, the last time she brought a baby to a large event at my school, she misplaced it and the doll was subsequently ravaged and tortured by a couple of elementary boys. Okay, that's putting it strongly, but did take a nice strong bath, some sewing, and some fancy fixing of a plastic pacifier until the doll was almost restored to her original condition. With that in mind, I was wary of Bunny taking a doll to the school fair. “Mommy, I promise I won't lose her,” my motherly little girl insisted. I thought about it and strategized a bit and finally came up with a solution.
“Bunny, I'm going to make you a Dolly Wrap--it's just like the one I used to wear you in. Do you remember it? Well, if you promise to wear your dolly in the wrap the entire time that we're there, then you can bring her. Deal?”
“I promise, Mommy. I'll wear her the whole time!” Bunny agreed, exuberantly, so I marched to my massive stash of fabric and pulled out some knits that I didn't have any particular use for.
Now, I love to sew, and given the time, it would have been fun to look up a pattern for a different type of carrier such as a Mei Tai, but since I needed this quickly and I'm familiar with the Moby, it seemed like a good opportunity to try a no sew fabric craft--probably my first no-sew fabric project ever. I knew the shape of the Moby Wrap, but not the length…and knowing the length for mine did little to help me know how long to make it for her. So, being the extremely scientific and mathematical type that I am ;-) , I held the wrap up next to my body (folded in half) and figured that it was about three times my length (I'm 5'8” which would make the adult wrap about 204” long or 17' long) . Not feeling like doing the math I just did for you, I simply held up a bit of the pink knit fabric against my three year old (who is 3' 3”) until it looked to be about three times her height (that would make it 117” long or 9' 9” long).
Then, I stretched the width of the adult Moby Wrap against my torso, and then did the same against Bunny. The adult Moby Wrap is 23” wide, so I made Bunny's about half of that. Actually, hers ended up being a little more than half of that because I simply cut the strip of fabric that I was using in half lengthwise.
So, these measurements in mind, I measured out the length of Bunny's Dolly Wrap to about 117 inches (then foolishly shortened it to about 80 because I was afraid that 117 was over-estimating. 80 inches worked, thankfully, but only just barely) and I cut the length of the fabric there. Now, I folded the fabric in half to get the width I desired and cut down the length of the entire thing. The remaining piece of fabric I had should have measured 117” long by 12” wide. (Mine was 80” by 16ish”)
The last thing to do was to taper the ends. To do this, I simply folded the entire strip into quarters, carefully aligning all the edges so that they fit together as perfectly as I could get them.
Then I cut a triangle off the edge where all four corners met. This gave me a less bulky end that I could use to tie the Dolly Wrap together much more easily.
If I wanted to, I could hem or serge the edges at this point, but because of the nature of knit, I knew it wouldn't unravel so I left the edges raw.
Once you have your Dolly Wrap made, this is how you place it on your child:
- Fold the wrap in half widthwise.
- Place the Dolly Wrap against the stomach of your child with the raw edges up.
- Wrap the ends around to the back, and cross them, bringing them up over the shoulders back to the front.
- Tuck the ends inside the panel laying against the wearer's stomach.
- Cross the ends again.
- Pull the ends around to the back and tie them. (At this point, if you made a longer wrap, you may be able to wrap them back around to the front and tie them).
- To place the baby doll, pull the front tummy panel down to expose the crossed pieces. Tuck the baby doll's legs in so that the “X” is at their bum, then spread the fabric over the bum/back.
- Pull the front panel up over the baby doll's back and shoulders. You can let the feet stick out or pull them in.
Once I finished the dolly wrap, I grabbed my daughter and a doll and wrapped her up tightly and was happy to find that it worked. However, it was best if we used a soft bodied doll rather than a hard dolly because plastic dolls don't form to little girls bodies the way real babies do to their Mommies and Bunny found the hard doll uncomfortable and un-maneuverable.
We went to the school fair two days in a row and Bunny wore her baby almost the entire time. She even wore her in the bounce house, which was quite impressive in my book. All that jumping and bumping and her doll stayed safely in place. After visiting the fair we went to the store and she saw a lady wearing her baby and it was delightful to show her that this is how lots of Mommies carry their real babies. Then we talked about how cool it would for her and I to both be able to wear our babies together once her little brother was born. Initially, the baby carrier was simply a practical way to keep her from misplacing her prized dolly, but now, I think it will be yet one more way for her to connect with her baby brother and me once he finally arrived. That said, I declare this project a huge success that required very little effort on my part.