Hanging out by the pool with kids splashing nearby. Enjoying a tall glass of lemonade on the back porch, watching the evening sky. A long day enjoying rides and shows at a theme park. Relaxing with friends by the campfire.
Summertime is my favorite time of the year and babywearing has always made it easier to spend time with my family, making memories and having fun. But hot weather can make it harder to keep everyone comfortable and keep you wearing through it all. I am often asked for tips about summertime babywearing and luckily there are some great resources to help people keep on wearing even when the temperatures start to climb.
First, let me say this; Having a little human strapped to your body can be hot and in hot weather and climates, it will only get hotter. You can find carriers that are better for hot weather wearing and we will talk a little bit about what features you are looking for in a summer carrier, but most caregivers find that they do not need to purchase a new carrier specifically for the summer time.
Dressing yourself and your baby appropriately is the first step in summer wearing and it can make all the difference. The carrier adds layers to the baby, so a comfy cotton t-shirt and a diaper is usually plenty of clothing in warm weather. With very small infants, remember that they are not very efficient at maintaining their own body temperature, however, an adult body is great at it and as you wear your baby your sweat that will help cool your baby.
Drinking lots of water and offering fluids to your child often is going to help keep you both hydrated. Another important thing to consider is sun exposure. Make sure you take the time to use sunblock and hats when exposed to direct sun. This great thread has some discussion about how to keep the sun off of your baby while babywearing. A sun hat is essential when in very strong sun, but be sure that the hat you choose still allows for plenty of fresh airflow to your child. Remember you want your baby’s face in view at all times.
Wraps and Ringslings:
Wrapping in hot weather is overwhelming to some wearers. Layers and layers of fabric seems like it wouldn’t be something you would want in hot weather, but single layer carries and thinner wraps can make all the difference and allow you to wrap all year long.
Ring Slings are a fantastic summer option as they are one layer and come in a variety of fabrics, from 100% linen to a thick dense wrap conversion, because there is just one layer of fabric over baby and wearer they are generally the coolest carrier style. Check out this thread about the best blends for summer slings.
Mesh water slings and wraps are also available and perfect for wading with little ones. Please remember that babywearing is not to be done while swimming and to use your best judgement when babywearing around the water.
Short wraps tied as a rebozo is a fantastic shorty carry with medium/thick wraps. If you enjoy a multi layer carry, choosing a thinner wrap with more open weave will allow for maximum breathability. Check out The summer wrap resource which breaks it all down and has suggestions of different brands that work best in different carries.
Another great thread to check out is the summer wrap boot camp. Learn some tips and techniques to help you wrap with thinner wraps — even with bigger kids! Wrapping thin wraps can actually help you become a better, more careful wrapper, so don’t be afraid to try a thin wrap.
Mei Tais and Soft Structured Carriers:
There have been a lot of new carriers that have come on the market in the past couple of years, many are hot-weather-friendly featuring cool mesh panels and moisture wicking fabrics. I am often asked if these mesh panels make a difference in how cool the carrier is and the answer is yes, but it makes the most difference for the baby.
The caregiver will still be pretty hot, but the baby will be cooler as the heat can escape from the carrier easier. The open sides also allow for more airflow and so mei tais and ssc’s can be a great option for people who want less fabric overall and carriers with thinner/less padding are generally cooler too, so keep that in mind when looking at your options. The SSC/MT Summer Resource is a list that is updated every spring with links to all of the brands and options out there so check it out if you’re looking for a list.
To conclude, I want to touch on how to stay safe during the summer while babywearing. As always, follow the labeling and instructions included with your carrier. You don’t want to do anything while babywearing that you wouldn’t do with your baby in your arms. These include things like horseback riding, biking, ATVing, boating, SUPing and water skiing. Choose alternate activities like hiking or splashing in the sprinklers or at the splash pad. I touched on swimming a bit already, but always be mindful around water. Babywearing can be great if you’re wading in the shallow end while watching your bigger kids, but always have an action plan and have an extra adult nearby just in case.
Have a safe and cool babywearing summer!