Teaching Tips for FWCC
Front Wrap Cross Carry (FWCC) is arguably one of the most essential carries we utilize as educators. It is usually the first carry we teach new wrappers and with good reason! It includes many foundational components, making a seat, strand by strand tightening, keeping the back spread and not twisted, learning how to find and pull slack through. Below I will be sharing some tips and tricks educators can use to better help new-to-wrapping caregivers learn these tricks and feel successful in their first wrapping experience.
Untwisting From The Start
One of the biggest issues we see with beginners is twisted wraps and difficulty with bringing the passes around their backs. We all have our own tricks for this, but one we came across at the conference this past summer has been really well received. The technique is the ‘pinch, pinch, loop’ trick. As seen in the below pictures, you begin as you normally would by starting the middle marker centered on your chest. Choose what side you want to start with and hold the middle marker with your opposite hand. Using the same hand as the side you are working, pinch the top rail near the middle marker and run your fingers along that top rail until your arm is fully extended. Pinch the wrap there and bring that point to your hand holding the middle marker. Hand that point to the hand holding the middle marker. Now, run your fingers along the top rail until your arm is fully extended again. At this point, the hand holding the first pinch point will drop that slack while continuing to hold the middle marker at the center of the chest. You now have enough slack to loop the back pass around you with one fluid motion. Remember to tell your member to tuck their elbow forward in front of the fabric before looping around the back and over the opposite shoulder. Gather the fabric on the opposite shoulder and then repeat this process with the opposite side.
Why this works for new learners: Keeps the fabric spread wide and flat across the wearers back and gets the caregiver used to keeping track of the top rail while making the back passes.
Before Baby, Even It Out and Tighten It Up
It is not uncommon to see new babywearers start their carries too loose and then they struggle against a wiggling baby to tighten the wrap. Before adding baby, stop to discuss that the middle marker is still centered, the fabric over the shoulder is gathered evenly and not twisted, and teach the caregiver how the rails correspond with the body of the wrap. This is a good point to teach how to pull slack through the wrap and tighten everything up. As seen in the picture below, have the caregiver leave just enough slack to reach their hand up under the center pass. Teaching them how to tighten the wrap and pull out excess slack before putting baby in can make a big difference in their outcome and help set them up for success.
Why this works for new learners: Helps new wearers learn the mechanics of how to find slack in a wrap and tighten well.
Putting Baby In
At this point, the wrap should be fairly snug, spread evenly and ready for baby. Have the caregiver pick up baby and put them in the burp position on one of their shoulders. Demonstrate how to support baby with the hand of the shoulder baby is on. Use the opposite hand to reach under and up the center pass, grasping baby’s ankles and sliding baby down into the center pass. Using the hand from underneath to support baby’s bottom and back, take the opposite hand and pull the center pass up to the bottom of baby’s ears so baby is fully in the wrap. The caregiver can gently guide baby to the center of their chest while keeping baby’s spine vertical to the floor and their chests touching. The wearer should be able to easily kiss baby’s head.
Why this works for new wearers: We are giving caregivers the tools to get baby in without getting stuck in the carrier as well as tricks to achieve good positioning.
Making a Seat
Making the seat can be a big challenge for the new wearer especially depending on the size of the baby and the width of the wrap. It is can be a helpful trick to use a narrower wrap for a smaller baby and a wider wrap for a larger baby; but we always try to work with what caregivers have available to them or what is on hand in the lending library. To make the seat, draw some of the fabric from baby’s back and bum between baby’s legs and up between baby and wearer’s bodies. You can demonstrate how to do this by holding baby’s weight with one hand and pushing the fabric up and between baby’s legs all the way to baby’s belly button. Fabric should be pinned between the caregiver’s and baby’s bellies once baby’s weight is lowered into the seat. Another option is to have the caregiver support baby’s back and head with one hand, lean forward and use the opposite hand to reach between wearer and baby and pull the fabric up and between them. While still supporting baby, stand up again.
Why this works for new wearers: having a couple of different techniques to creating a seat will give you options if the wearer seems nervous.
Getting it Snug
Now that baby is in, centered and has a seat; it is time to make sure the wrap is snug and supporting baby’s spine and natural positioning. Ask the wearer to use a hand to hold baby snug and use the opposite hand to grasp the top rail over their shoulder. Direct them to pull the top rail horizontal to the ground and away from the shoulder. They should immediately feel the wrap tighten across their body. Have them pull this over their shoulder and while maintaining tension, demonstrate strand by strand tightening. The key to tightening is to pinch a little bit of fabric at a time. If tightening the bottom rail is hard for the caregiver, it can sometimes help to have them maintain tension with the hand holding baby and use their thumb to pull slack out of that rail. This is achieved by sliding their thumb between their shoulder and the wrap and pulling the slack up and over their shoulder. At this point, they can either hold tension of this tightened pass by tucking it between their legs or holding it with the hand supporting baby. Then proceed with the other side. Have them check the rest of the carry for any slack and pull as much slack out as possible. You can see this technique in the photos below.
Why it works for new wearers: Pulling horizontally keeps it from riding up into the arm pits, strand by strand tightening is critical to wrapping and a key skill.
Finishing It Off
While holding tension; cross one of the passes under baby’s bum, switch hands, guide the wrap under baby’s leg and around to the back. Repeat for the other side and tie with a square knot. Some caregivers will prefer to keep the passes bunched while others will want or even need the extra support of having them spread. Evaluate the needs of the caregiver you are assisting. When showing how to spread the passes, make sure to note to spread the fabric from knee-to-knee and over baby’s back. Assist them in finding any slack that may have been created in spreading the pass and follow it through to knot and retie.
FWCC is a fantastic carry for first-time wrappers and keeps baby perfectly close and secure while teaching the foundations for good wrapping skills.
Article by Lori Post, Master Babywearing Educator and VP of Education for Babywearing International of Greater Austin. Lori also serves Babywearing International as a Higher Accreditation Regional Director and as a member of the Education Action Committee.