Temperatures are skyrocketing- what’s a parent to do in hot weather? Don’t let high temperatures keep you from doing what you love with your little one. Carry on with these hot weather babywearing safety tips.
Time outings for the coolest parts of the day
It might sound obvious, but stay out of the sun wherever possible. Keep outdoor activities to the morning and evening when the temps are a bit cooler. Babies lack the ability to regulate body temperature the way adults do and their skin is even more likely to sunburn. Take advantage of air conditioned spaces wherever possible. If you feel hot, your baby probably feels even hotter.
Clothing and other coverings
Dress lightly, but keep a thin layer between your body and your baby’s as skin to skin may be too hot and sticky. Be mindful that the carrier will act as another layer of clothing and adjust the way you and baby are dressed accordingly. Be aware of body parts that are not covered by the carrier as well- an accidentally exposed neck or leg can quickly burn in the sun.
Sun hats are a must (preferably ones that offer neck protection). Covering the head creates instant shade and helps protect from sunburn.You can also achieve this effect with a parasol or umbrella to keep the sun off you both.
Consider adding leggings or leg covers. Many brands of baby leggings come in mesh UV-protection options and are a perfect pairing with baby carriers.
Hot weather babywearing safety: Keep baby visible and open to the air
Make sure your baby is always visible. It can be tempting to pull up a sleeping hood to create shade, but you must always be able to see baby’s face both to maintain an open airway, and to ensure that baby is not overheating.
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can overcome babies quickly and a sleepy, lethargic baby may be overheated. Familiarize yourself with the signs of heat stroke in babies.
Regularly take your baby out of the carrier to release trapped heat and circulate air between your bodies. Babies who seem distressed or overheated in any way should be removed from the carrier and brought somewhere cooler immediately.
Choosing a carrier
Choose a hot-weather appropriate carrier. Single layer carriers (ring slings, lightweight wraps), breathable materials (linen, gauze, lightweight cotton and moisture wicking fabrics) and light coloured carriers can keep you as cool as possible. Buckle carriers or mei tais with vents, mesh panels, and curved hourglass shaped sides will all offer increased airflow. Avoid carriers with bulky inserts, excessive padding and multiple layers as these will all restrict airflow. Water wraps and ring slings are a great option for cooling off in the water together.
If it is developmentally appropriate, hip and back carries can be slightly cooler than front carries.
Just add water
Water is your friend when it comes to hot weather babywearing safety.
Make sure you and your baby are well hydrated. This is especially important for breastfeeding mothers.
A light mist of water over you and your baby from a spray bottle can cool you both down quickly. A cold washcloth on the back of a baby’s neck (and yours too!) can also offer relief. Pack cooling towels or other stay-cool cloths and head bands to keep you cool without getting you wet. Cooling towels work through evaporation and can be draped around your neck or head.
When placing any kind of cold pack or towel, remember that babies under 6 months of age are particularly vulnerable to temperature extremes and should be monitored closely. Products like cooling towels can interfere with young babies’ ability to regulate temperature.
Avoid placing cooling products between the parent’s and baby’s bodies as this both inhibits evaporation and can interfere with baby’s natural temperature regulation. When considering the use of cooling products, treat you and your baby as a single unit, with products placed at your backs, shoulders, etc.
When you can, avoid extreme temperatures
Your safest approach when you or your baby are feeling the effects of the heat is to take a break in a cooler location, then follow some of the tips above to cool down.
And if you feel like wearing your baby is just making you both too hot, it’s ok to take a break! Sometimes it’s just too hot and sticky, and if you don’t feel like babywearing, that’s ok. Wait until it cools down and both you and baby feel comfortable wearing again.
Keep the above safety tips in mind and you and your little one will be keeping your cool while the mercury rises.