Key features of the Ama wrap:
Age suitability: 0-3 years
Features: One size fits all, comes with its own carry bag, detailed instructional booklet showing not only the different positions but also research and physiological benefits of babywearing, comes in a variety of colours, middle marker makes it easy to use
Suitable for adult height: One size and height fits all
Total cost: £39.99
The AmaWrap is still fairly new to the market. Made right here in the UK, it was devised a few years ago by Shabs Kwofie, then a new mum suffering from postnatal depression following the traumatic birth of her daughter.
Struggling to get out of her flat with her daughter, the buggy and their essentials, she hit on the idea of wrapping her little one in a sling, which she fashioned from a piece of cloth.
The sling enabled Shabs to keep her daughter close, helping them bond. Fast-forward three years and the AmaWrap, made from 100% cotton, is now sold online and provided to several hospital neo natal units.
Made from a single piece of stretchy fabric, the AmaWrap has no belts, buckles or buttons. There’s also no foam padding – everything that supports your baby comes from the way the fabric is tied.
This consequently make the AmaWrap less bulky than a conventional baby carriers but around the same size and shape of other carriers like the Baby K’Tan Breeze, Maya Wrap and Lifft Sling.
It’s yet to win any awards (as far as I’m aware) but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time, especially since the AmaWrap has, so far, garnered rave reviews on the Internet from mums.
You can buy the Ama Wrap from the website or Amazon.
Having worn my first son, who is now three-years-old, in a padded baby carrier (Wilkinet) from birth for several months, I was keen to do the same with my second son, Rocco, who was a week-old when I received the AmaWrap.
I needed a way to carry him that didn’t aggravate my c-section scar and allowed me to keep my hands free to care for my older boy and get from A to Be without a buggy. And I was also keen to see whether a sling can trump a padded carrier.
What’s it like to put on the AmaWrap?
At first, it was not very easy to put the wrap on in my sleep-deprived state.
I thought I could just use the pictures, but they left me baffled and at one point I nearly strangled myself with the length of material.
But once I’d viewed the online instructional video a few times, I wondered how I’d found it so difficult. It definitely became easier and quicker to put on with practice.
Putting my son inside was a challenge at first (and made me wish I’d practised with a teddy beforehand as his impatient screams really put me off).
But again, once we’d done it a few times, it was quick and simple to put him into the sling, placing first one leg and then the other into the crossed-over material before pulling the part of the sling around my waist up and over his legs, bum and back.
What are the seating options like?
Limited, but there’s a reason for that. Unlike baby carriers that are designed to hold baby facing inwards and outwards and even on your back, AmaWrap is designed to allow you to wear your baby facing towards the wearer.
There are three seating options detailed in the booklet that accompanies the sling; the first is a breastfeeding carry, which is best suited to newborn and small babies. It supports baby across your chest, allowing them to feed or sleep while in contact with your body, much like the position you’d naturally hold your baby in.
The second is the basic carry, effectively allowing you to wear your baby in the cuddle position (facing inwards, knees higher than bum and back gently supported).
The third is the hip carry and is the same as the basic carry with baby shifted onto one hip, allowing him to look out.
Any other seating options (facing-forward or on your back) are not recommended, and here’s why.
Facing forwards, your baby is supported only by his bum, leaving his legs dangling. So it’s uncomfortable and potentially damaging for his hips. You baby can become over stimulated, prompting crying. There’s also no head support and it puts unnecessary pressure on baby’s spine and yours.
As for back carrying, stretchy wraps are unsafe for this seating option since you need another person to help you get your baby into the sling and, once there, your little one could arch his back and force the fabric of the sling to roll down, leaving him liable to fall out.
How easy is it to adjust?
Very. Because there are no buckles or buttons, the only adjustment is how closely you tie the fabric around your waist.
Looser ties mean baby is worn lower; keeping fabric taut means baby rides higher. But once baby is in the sling, I found it almost impossible to make any adjustments, especially to tighten the sling.
And since I found taking Rocco out and then placing him back into the sling loosened the fabric, it was often easier to retie the whole sling rather than attempt to adjust it while I was wearing it.
It’s being sold on having an ergonomic position, is that so? How can you tell?
When snuggled inside the sling in the basic carry, Rocco, who stayed curled up in the foetal position for several weeks after he was born, was high and tight against my chest and close enough to kiss, which follows the T.I.C.K.S guidelines to wearing slings safely.
I could tell his body – especially his back – was being supported in the right way as his spine remained in a C shape inside the sling. It’s very much the position he adopts when I cuddle him. Also, because his knees remain higher than his bum and his legs apart, his legs are in the M position.
With his back facing away from me, his centre of gravity is opposite mine, so we feel balanced and I don’t feel as if I’m being pulled forward, as I might if he were facing away from me.
As for my back, it felt comfortable the whole time I wore the sling, even on long walks as long as I put it on carefully and ensured there was equal pressure on both shoulders.
How is breastfeeding while wearing the AmaWrap?
It’s fantastic! You can breastfeed your baby in the sling, even while you’re on the move!
The breastfeeding carry is ideally suited to small babies as their bodies are cocooned across your chest. I was able to sit and feed him like this in restaurants and it’s so discreet that on more than one occasion, the waitress didn’t even realise I had a baby strapped to me.
Then, as Rocco got bigger, I found that by lowering him slightly while in the basic carry allowed me to bring his mouth level with my chest so he could feed while I was standing up, allowing me to feed him while I was out and about with my older son without having to stop and sit down.
It’s also marketed as being a hands-free sling, is that true?
Yes, it is hands-free but when your baby is so close and surrounded by such soft material, it’s hard to keep your hands and arms from them! The baby is essentially sat on the material as it crosses in front of your body. The crossover is the seat, with extra support and protection coming from the length of fabric that is wrapped around your waist.
When tied correctly and tightly (tighter than you think to allow for some give in the stretchy fabric), Rocco’s body felt very secure.
And when he was asleep and facing to the side, his head also felt secure. But when Rocco was facing towards my chest, I found it tricky to support his head adequately, even using a rolled-up muslin tucked behind his neck, as the instructions suggest. So I often found myself supporting his head with one of my hands.
Is it comfortable for baby?
Yes, very. Even when I accidentally pulled Rocco’s foot and leg up towards my shoulder thinking it was his arm, Rocco was so blissed out in the sling that he barely protested.
In the first few weeks, it was the easiest way to get him to calm down and pretty much the only way to get him to go to sleep during the day.
The only times Rocco was uncomfortable was when I had to lean forward or squat down, usually when I stooped down to put on my or my son’s shoes or strap my older son into the buggy.
It felt like he was falling out or getting squished. But as soon as I was upright again, he stopped complaining.
Is it comfortable for you?
Yes at first, especially indoors as it is soft enough to wear next to my skin and while sitting down.
However, when I’d been wearing it for a while, particularly if I’d been walking around and bending down frequently (for example, to get my older child in and out of his buggy or do up his shoes), I found the material slackened, causing Rocco to droop down so he was pressing against my c-section scar and bruised abdomen.
And when I wore the sling under a coat, which is necessary in colder weather since you need to place your coat over both you and your baby, the snug fit sometimes caused the shoulder ‘straps’ of the sling to shift, again making it uncomfortable as Rocco’s weight was no longer evenly distributed.
And because the sling is worn tied behind you in a knot, wearing a rucksack that rests on your lower back can also be uncomfortable.
How is it to wear?
You need to think about what to wear with this sling. Since it’s designed to be worn as close to your body as possible, you wear it under a coat.
Fine if you’ve still got a maternity coat kicking around but if you were pregnant in the summer, you’re unlikely to own one. I either had to wear my husband’s jacket, which swamped me, or my coat open, which left my neck and upper chest exposed.
I thought about wearing a scarf but that would mean I couldn’t keep a close eye on Rocco to make sure he was breathing. I was tempted to zip my coat up and wrap the sling outside but the AmaWrap website warns against putting snowsuits on babies in the sling as there’s a real risk they could overheat.
So I ended up digging out a high-necked jumper. Then the issue was Rocco wasn’t getting skin-to-skin contact. So it’s probably better suited to wearing in warmer months.
Also, because the sling doesn’t hold baby as rigidly as a carrier, bending down to tie up shoes can mean baby tips away from you.
Not so far he’ll fall out but it’s still unnerving for both of you. Worth bearing in mind when you’re choosing footwear.
Can it help with colic and reflux?
Yes, but I think any sling or carrier than enables baby to be supported in an upright position, chest to chest with you, would have the same effect as the close contact that helps to soothe and calm baby.
The vertical hold also means that gravity helps the milk stay down. That said, the particularly snug fit of the AmaWrap means even small babies are held close, encouraging air to come up as their tummies are massaged against the wearer’s chest. Burps aplenty!
Do you benefit from keeping your little one close?
Yes, definitely. As well as a sense of security knowing your baby is safe and snug right next to you, baby wearing has been suggested to stimulate breastmilk production and lower the incidence of postpartum depression thanks to all that skin-to-skin contact.
It can be used up to 15kg, do you think it will take all that weight?
Yes, it would support a child of 15kg but I don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing. I put my three-year-old inside (with help) and staggered under his weight.
I needed both hands to hold him up and his feet were down by my knees, which wasn’t comfortable for either of us.
I feel that carrying a baby of 15kg in a stretchy wrap rather than a structured carrier would probably hurt your back. Plus, older babies tend to wriggle more and without a secure fastening may launch themselves out of the sling.
Is it easy to clean?
Yes, very. Simply bung it in the washing machine and wash at a maximum of 40 degrees. I washed it half a dozen times and it never faded or lost its elasticity or shape.
How does it compare to other slings and carriers you have used?
In terms of softness and comfort for baby, this is the best I’ve tried. Particularly for the very early stages when structured baby carriers are too stiff for their soft bodies and don’t allow enough skin-to-skin.
But in terms of practicality, given that I was testing it during cold, wet winter months, it’s on par with the Wilkinet, which has long strings that can be confusing to tie at first and get trailed in the mud if you need to put it on or take it off while out and about.
What do you think of the design?
Simple but effective. My only complaint would be that for me the material was too long. It meant that when I put the sling on outside, the ends reached the floor, which was often wet and dirty, soiling the material.
And an extension of fabric around the middle, where baby’s head is placed, would be useful and eliminate the need for a muslin.
Would you recommend this sling?
Without a doubt. There’s not a baby or parent or carer who couldn’t benefit from the close contact this sling facilitates.
It’s especially useful in those early months, when your little one just needs to be held. Your arms might get tired of holding your child, but this sling keeps baby up against your chest, where they love to be.
Even if you don’t plan to wear your baby on long walks or outside at all, using this sling at home, for those times when you need to keep baby close but also need to get on and do stuff, is essential.
How robust is it?
The material is excellent and, as mentioned above, washes well and can take considerable strain. It’s a 3 in terms of staying in exactly right place during one wear but a 5 in terms of longevity of sling material.
I’ve no doubt that the AmaWrap would still be in good condition long after your baby has outgrown it – and it would likely last for a second or subsequent child, making it excellent value for money.
Is it compact and easy to store?
Yes, very. AmaWrap comes in its own matching bag made from the same stretchy fabric.
Folded up in the bag, it’s easily small enough to fit in a changing bag, under a buggy or even in a handbag.
What’s in the bag?
- An AmaWrap sling in a matching carry bag
- Instructional booklet
Any additional extras?
- Nothing you can buy but a muslin cloth to roll up as a neck support is useful.
A simple design that is brilliant at allowing you to do what comes naturally – cuddling your baby – for longer.
Backed up with excellent customer service (the designer herself is often on hand to answer email and phone queries), this sling should be an essential bit of baby kit for any new parent as it boosts bonding between parent and baby.
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