Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Tips for babywearing in the heat

It's sunny, it's hot, and it's muggy. It's summertime in Central Virginia! We have had some more reasonable weather recently, but we all know that heat and humidity will be upon us soon.

While we all love to wear our babies and toddlers, those little ones create a lot of heat and babywearing, by nature, is hot. We have gathered some tips to share for babywearing in the heat.

First, let's start with some safety tips:

  • Monitor your child, especially the younger babies. They aren't great at regulating their body temperature.
  • Minimize sun exposure.
  • Wear sun protection, including sunglasses.
  • Babies who are overheated should be removed from the carrier and taken someplace cooler right away.
  • Heatstroke is a serious condition, even more so in babies. Familiarize yourself with the signs here.

Now let's talk about you and the child:

  • Dress in light and airy clothes.
  • Stay hydrated! Drink even more water if you're breastfeeding.
  • Try to schedule outdoor activities in the cooler hours; early morning is best.
  • Stay in the shade. If there's none around, bring your own. Umbrellas are for more than just rain, or buy a parasol ("parasole" meaning to shield sun). 
  • If shade isn't available and an umbrella/parasol isn't an option, then try wide-brimmed, light-weight hats for both you and the child.
  • Keep a layer of cloth, either your clothing or a thin piece of muslin or cotton, between you and the baby. This helps with the "sticky" feeling of skin-on-skin.
  • Fans: either hand or battery powered.
  • Use water-cooled towels ("FroggToggs") or a damp washcloth to cool YOU. Do not place these  on your baby or between you and your baby. They need air to work and there isn't much, if any, air circulation between your bodies.

Finally, let's talk about carriers:

  • Many of the companies that make Soft Structured Carriers (SSCs), now make these carriers with mesh panels on the front. They allow for the carrier to breathe a bit more than regular SSCs.
  • An ultra-compact SSC is especially great for the pool/water, but less great for long periods of time due to the lack of padding.
  • Linen Ring Slings or light weight cotton Ring Slings are a good choice with the breathable fabric and only having one layer of fabric around you and the child.
  • Mei-Tais can be a good choice with open sides allowing some air flow and minimal cloth around the wearer.
  • Lightweight woven wraps in a single-layer pass carry is the coolest way to wear with a wrap. (Be on the look out this week for a blog post about a torso carry!)
  • Do not wear a mesh or water ring sling or wrap outside the pool/water for long periods of time. The fabric will only cling properly when wet.
  • Stretchy wraps that are popular with newborns (ex, Moby wraps) are not very good for hot weather wearing. They have multiple passes and do not allow for air to flow between you and the baby.  Consider a ring sling as an alternative.

We have all of these options in our lending library. If you want to try on different carriers to see what will work, please come to one of our meetings and one of our educators will help you with that.

Here's a handy graphic that our friends at BWI of St Louis Gateway made and are allowing us to share with you:

Enjoy your babywearing summer!