It's that time of year again, with the average temps in the 90's, humidity at 100% and the Great Plains weather is.... well, not so great. But you can't hide in the air conditioning forever! Those little ones are going to want to get outside and go to the zoo, the splash pad or the park. Do you know everything you need to know about baby wearing in warm weather? If not, read on!
First and foremost, let's cover some basic safety tips.
-Hydrate, this means you and baby. Seems like a no brainer but it doesn't go without saying. Wearer gets plenty of H2O and baby gets water or milk. If you're feeling extra hot, use one of those nifty little handheld water misting fans.
-Hats- You can put baby in a hat and (adorable) sunglasses or you can wear an extra wide brim floppy hat. Baby gets some shade and you look fabulous!
-UV protection. Also seems like a no brainer, but for the under 6 months crowd your options are not as easy as slathering on a bunch of sunscreen. Furthermore, avobenzone, a common sunscreen ingredient may stain your carrier (and your clothes!). Some carriers are made with material with UV protection. When you can't use sunscreen, you may be better off finding or creating a source of shade with a large hat or UV-blocking umbrella.
|Baby T, son of VBE Laura, models his shades|
while being worn
-Ice packs and cold towels. A lot of blogs out there are going to recommend using cooling towels (eg. Frogg Togg) or ice packs wrapped in a hand towel. I'm not going to advise against these tools, but there are few words of caution.
When using a cooling towel, you should not place them on or around a baby. Babies cannot thermoregulate properly and due to their smaller size, cooling towels may cool baby down too much, which is just as unsafe as overheating. They are perfect, though, for the wearer to wrap around his/her neck to keep cool while wearing baby. Children and older toddlers who can communicate their discomfort may also be able to use them on their necks for short periods. Also, you may be tempted to put these towels in between your and baby's bodies, but don't. These towel need airflow to work. Placing them where they can't get airflow makes them pretty much just a damp, hot towel. If you're interested in using a cooling towel, I saw them on sale at Menard's the other day for $5.
|VBE, Laura, cooling down in the shade|
on a sunny day
Image description: a light skinned woman
wearing sunglasses with a light skinned
infant on her front facing out. The infant
is wearing a hat and looking away from the
-Water- For those of you who intend to take baby swimming, hold your (sea)horses! You can definitely enjoy the pool or the lake with baby with a few caveats. Front or hip carries only and don't submerge baby, which means don't submerge yourself higher than your waist. If you have a very young infant or newborn, I wouldn't recommend going into the water at all. However, hanging out poolside or beach side to watch your older kiddos swim and splash is perfectly fine. Also, use a carrier that is designed to be submerged in water. Using other types of carriers that have not been tested for water use, especially with prolonged exposure to chlorine, can cause damage to the material, webbing or buckles.
Dress for Success
Dress yourself in light layers with cool, breathable, natural fabrics, like cotton and linen. Dress baby lightly. A single onesie is probably sufficient. You may also want to have a light muslin cloth diaper or burp rag to lay across your chest. That precious sleeping baby face on your bosom gets sweaty and sticky fast!
|VBE Whitney rests in the shade with her newborn in a mesh ring sling|
Despite our best efforts to avoid it, our little ones can still be at risk for overheating. Know the signs of heatstroke and seek medical attention immediately. Don't second guess yourself. The consequences of being wrong and calling an ambulance are embarrassment but the consequences of being right and not calling for help could be deadly. If you think you or your baby are getting too warm, seek shade or, preferably, an indoor area with air conditioning. Remove baby from the carrier and pat down skin with a cool, damp cloth. If baby is simply overheated and not in heat stroke, make sure you and baby drink plenty of cool fluids (or milk for babies younger than 4 months) and then take the rest of the day off from outdoor adventures.
And, probably the information you really wanted to know, what carriers are good for the summer heat. One important thing I want to note first is that you really don't need to run out and buy the latest xyz mesh, fancy fiber blend carrier for the summer. Even the meshiest, linen-iest baby carrier will still be warm. You will still have to take breaks. You still must follow the safety tips listed above. However, if you're in the market and you are looking specifically for something to beat the heat, read on!
If you are a wrapper, there are plenty of options for you. Lightweight wraps (such as Wrapsody, Elleville, Ellaroo, Soul) work best. You can also look for fibers that are better for hot and humid weather such as cotton, linen, hemp, wool (you read that right-wool), tencel, repreve, bamboo or any blend thereof.
|VBE Rachel in in a double hammock with the library's Wrapsody Breeze gauze wrap|
Image description: A light skinned woman with glasses wearing a blonde light skinned toddler on her back in a blue and orange graduated wrap.
|VBE Rachel and Baby K staying cool in a FWCC in the Wrapsody Breeze|
Image Description: Close up of a light skinned woman wearing a blond light skinned toddler on her front in a blue to orange graduated wrap. The mother's face is out of the frame.
Ring slings & Pouches
These all star carriers are awesome for hot weather because a)they are single layer b)have less material, and c)often come in lightweight materials like mesh and linen for the summer. Soul Slings offer linen carriers in not only ring slings but meh dais, wraps and buckle carriers.
Meh dai / bei dai are another generally good carrier for warm weather because the open sides of the panel allow air to circulate between your bodies. If you opt for a meh dai without padding or wide wrap straps, there is significantly less fabric to weigh you down than the average structured buckle carrier. Canvas or linen meh dais are even better.
|VBE Courtney stays cool in a linen meh dai while marching in a parade|
Image description: A light skinned woman wearing sunglasses and a festive hat wearing a light skinned toddler boy on her back in a gray and green meh dai
Buckle carriers are a popular choice for many wearers, and most major brands these days offer a model with a mesh panel to allow for more breathability in the heat. It is important to note that these mesh carriers are designed to make the wearee more comfortable and less hot. You, the wearer, will still be roasting. It is also important to note that in some climates there may be no major discernible difference in coolness between a mesh carrier and a standard canvas carrier, and the mesh material may actually irritate sensitive skin. It is always possible to check out what seasonal carriers are in your local lending library that will suit your needs and borrow rather than purchase.
|VBE, Whitney, demonstrated proper UV protection while babywearing|
Image Description: Side view of a light skinned woman with short hair
wearing sunglasses with a young light skinned toddler on her back in a
buckle carrier with a wide brim white hat.
Another nifty newcomer to the U.S. market are hip seat carriers. Hip seats, like MiaMily and Lillebaby SeatMe, are basically a buckle carrier seat with or without a removable panel. The ability to remove this panel makes them a great option for older babies and toddlers who still need to go up intermittently, but can go without the back panel support. The hip seat is still more ergonomic than in arms holding and your back will probably thank you later after a day at the zoo. Even if you leave the panel on, hip seats are great because the seat allows for baby's rear to sit with a space in between your bodies, which means better air circulation and more comfort in the heat.
Finally, for you pool loungers or lake goers, there are carriers that are designed to go into the water.
Popular options are mesh ring slings, mesh wraps, Wrapsody DUO (made with repreve), Buboose Aqua (a meh dai), Bitty Bean buckle carrier, Connecta Solar, or Kokadi aqua. Your cheapest option is probably a mesh ring sling or wrap which is also probably the easiest to DIY. We do have a mesh water sling in the lending library for members to check out.
Please know that this blog post is not meant to be an exhaustive list of all carriers that fit into these categories. Furthermore, mention of any specific carrier should not be considered an endorsement of that brand or carrier by the author or Babywearing International of Wichita. There are so many options available on the market that there is no possible way I could have listed every one of them here. This list is meant mainly to highlight certain features to look for, safety and give you some ideas on where to start looking. The first place I recommend you start looking is in our lending library at our next meeting!
Until then, enjoy the sunshine and have a safe, happy Fourth of July!
Many thanks to the folx in Babywearing 102 for their invaluable compilation of resources and information, which can be found here: Wearing in Hot Weather Tips thread by Babywearing 102 Facebook Group.
Below is a list of links from our sister BWI chapters around the country with their tips and tricks for summer and warm weather babywearing:
- Hot Weather Safety Tips Baby Carrier Industry Alliance (BCIA)
- Babywearing Adventures: Summer Festivals by Babywearing International
- Babywearing Adventures: Beach Babywearing by Babywearing International
- Hot Weather Wearing by BWI of Gainesville
- Baby, It's Hot Outside! - Your Guide to Summer Babywearing by BWI of Knoxville
- Help Me! I need a carrier for warm – ok, HOT – weather! What should I get? by BWI of Tucson
- Babywearing in Extreme Heat by BWI of Phoenix
- Five Tips for Hot Weather Babywearing by BWI of Southern Maryland
- Water Wearing by BWI of Hampton Roads
- Babywearing in the Summer by BWI of Bay Area
- Hot Weather Wearing by BWI of Grand Rapids
- Babywearing in the Summer by BWI of Chicagoland
- Summer Babywearing by BWI of Boston
- Warm Weather Wearing by BWI of Greater Austin
- Water Wearing by BWI of Greater Austin