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Baby It’s Hot Outside!! Summertime Babywearing

I’m pretty sure we missed spring around here.  Or if it happened, it lasted about two days (maybe around the time Eleanor was born?  That must be why I missed it!).  In any case, it’s pretty darn hot.  And humid.  So what’s an avid babywearing mama to do?

Eleanor in her Monkey Pocket

I’m of the mind that if it is okay to be outside, it’s ok to babywear (a rule that applies to hot and cold).  I’d argue that a worn baby is going to be just as cool if not cooler than a stroller baby – at least a worn baby has the benefit of greater airflow than she’d have in a stroller (in particular in a bucket seat on a stroller) and the natural fibers of a baby carrier are going to stay cooler than the typically synthetic fibers of a stroller/bucket seat.   Of course, the wearer will be warmer wearing instead of pushing.  But since I sweat regardless, I don’t let that stop me 😉  All that said, it is always wisest to do what works best for you whether that be wearing, strolling or some combination.

There are some things you can do to make summer babywearing more enjoyable for mama and baby.  Here are a few tips that have helped me stay cool (or as cool as one can be) in our hot, humid NC summers:

  • When wrapping, choose single layer carries and/or thin wraps:   While wraps may not be the first carrier choice that come to mind when you think “hot weather,” there are a number of wraps that work well in the heat.  Our wrap guide has a rundown of different brands, but my personal favorites for the hottest days are Vatanai, Ellaroo, and Wrapsody Bali Baby Breeze (many swear by linen blend wraps in the heat although I personally don’t find them cooler unless they are also thin – such a subjective thing wrap qualities are though!).  I also stick with single layer carries as much as possible.  Rucks are great for summer back carries; ruck tied under the bum is my particular favorite for older babies/toddlers as it doesn’t require anything tied around the waist – can’t get any cooler than that!  For front carries, kangaroo is a nice option.  I also do variations of front wrap cross carry (like tying under the bum, using a twist, and not spreading the passes) that turn it into a single layer carry.

    Callum at the beach in a SBP solarveil sling
  • For mei tais and SSCs, look for light colors and solarveil or mesh options:  No surprise that a light colored carrier is going to be better in the heat.  You may also find that a non-padded waist mei tai is a cooler option than one with a heavier waistband (particularly if you are toting a smaller child and don’t really need tons of extra support).  Some mei tai/SSC makers (like Kindercarry, Bamberoo, and Dream Carrier) offer solarveil panels; these can be hard to come by so keep an eye on FSOT on thebabywearer.com or the maker’s facebook page for stockings.  Unfortunately, solarveil is no longer being made making these carriers even harder to come by; some makers are working on mesh panel versions as an alternative.
  • For ring slings, consider linen options or “water” slings:  Linen is probably the most popular summer sling fabric as it is breathable yet strong.  Many makers in our ring sling guide offer linen versions.   There are also a number of “water” slings on the market that can offer a cooler option for warm weather (depending on the brand/material, these may not be as supportive out of the water as other options).  There are solarveil ring slings but again with the lack of solarveil out there, makers are having to turn to other alternatives such as solarweave and mesh.
  • Dress the part:  Some mamas find it most comfortable to wear something like a tank top.  Depending on what I’m doing, I sometimes find it more comfortable to wear a light cotton t-shirt so that baby doesn’t stick to me.  Baby of course, is dressed very lightly; if it’s really, really hot, you can always go with just a diaper.

    Callum's famous sunhat
  • Use sun protection:  Big kids can, of course, be slathered in sun block (we love California Baby and Badger; both do well on the Environmental Working Group’s annual sunscreen ratings).  But for the sub-6 months crowd, shady gear is the way to go.   Callum had a famous white cotton sunhat that went everywhere with us his first summer.  Eleanor has a similar one.  BabyLegs work well to protect exposed legs (as do the tails of your wrap or ring sling if you are wrapping or slinging).  There are also UV-protective covers available such as Monkey Pockets and the Peekaru Ozone that attach to your carrier and hang down over baby protecting heads, arms, and legs while not adding a ton of extra fabric.

    Eleanor's equally famous sunhat
  • Consider back carries:  I’m sure there’s a scientific explanation but I find back carries to be much cooler than front carries.  Even so, a young baby should never be back carried for extended periods in the heat since you’ll want to be able to keep a close eye on them.  As much as I love back carries, Eleanor will ride on my front outside until she’s better at keeping her sunhat on herself 😉
  • Stay hydrated:  Your comfort as a wearer (and keep in mind it’s quite likely that you will get uncomfortable in the heat well before your passenger does – after all, you’re the one doing the work!) can be much improved by staying well hydrated.  Don’t forget to offer your riders frequent water as well – or in the case of young babies, frequent access to nursing/bottles (as of course they shouldn’t be drinking water just yet!).
  • Be smart about being out:  Just as with any other activity, use common sense about when to be out in the heat – a 3 mile hike midday in the blaring sun is never a good idea, regardless of how you are transporting baby.    Seek shade as much as possible too.
  • Remember, sweat is your friend!:  Sweating is your body’s way to cool itself – so it’s a good thing to sweat!  Bonus, if you are wearing baby, baby gets the benefit of your sweat too 😉

So get on out there and enjoy your summer!!

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Published in Babywearing Play time