Summer Babywearing Safety Part 1: Stay Cool, Stay Covered (But Not the Face!)

We are right in the middle of summer and for many people living in Toronto, everyone just wants to be outside. Being outdoors and getting a breath of fresh air is great, but for all the babywearers that are watching wee little babies and toddlers on those hot summer days, one very important question to ask oneself is,

“Is it too hot to babywear?”

 

If you love babywearing, you can still carry your child as long as you use your common sense. Avoid going out in the middle of the day when the sun is at it’s hottest. On those oppressively hot and humid days, you may find yourself and baby much more comfortable using a stroller, hopping on an air-conditioned bus, travelling by car or just staying indoors.  If you plan to babywear in hot weather, please keep the following in mind:

Hot Weather Babywearing Safety Tips

  1. Avoid direct sunlight. Stay in the shade as much as possible. Use a parasol/umbrella to block the sun.
  2. Plan outings for the early morning or late evening.
  3. Wear sun protection. Apply sunblock on exposed skin. Both babies and caregivers should wear wide-brimmed hats that protect the face and neck. Loose long sleeved clothing or baby leggings can provide good coverage. Look for fabrics offering UV resistance.
  4. Dress baby lightly. Remember that the carrier counts as a layer of clothing and babywearing generates a lot of body heat. Baby will not need more than one layer, a  t-shirt or onesie is often enough. Consider loose cuts and thinner/lighter fabrics that allow air flow.
  5. Ensure baby is visible and kissable. No sleephood in a front carry or muslin blanket over their face to block the sun. Your child’s face and airway must be clear and unobstructed at all times. It is important to continue to  monitor their airway, breathing and comfort. Young infants can overheat easily, becoming excessively sleepy or lethargic.
  6. Choose an appropriate carrier. Avoid carriers with excess padding, and bulky inserts (if possible). Some buckle carriers made for hot weather babywearing have mesh panels that allow better air circulation (e.g. Lillebaby Airflow, Je Porte Mon Bebe Physio, Trek Air-O, Beco 8). For woven carriers, look for fabrics such as linen/cotton blends or gauze, and try thinner or airier weaves (e.g. Didymos Waves, Wrapsody Breeze). Ring slings are also a good option as less fabric is spread across the body in a one shoulder carry. Meh dai’s are often unpadded or lightly padded, and allow extra air flow on the sides of baby’s body.
  7. Use your carrier appropriately in hot weather. If you have a woven wrap, use single pass carries such as kangaroo, front wrap cross carry with bunched passes, ruck, or traditional sling carry. With a buckle carrier, meh dai or wrap, try a hip carry to reduce the amount of fabric covering your body, and if your baby can sit unassisted, try a high back carry to reduce the amount of surface contact.
  8. Stay hydrated. Ensure you take plenty of water breaks, and nurse/give formula/offer water to baby often to increase fluids.
  9. Use a cooling aid. Try a wet washcloth, mist of water or blast of cool air from a handheld fan on your face or neck, and baby’s too. Cooling towels should only be used on yourself and babies that are 6 months or older. These need to be exposed to open air to cool, as they work through evaporation.
  10. Take breaks! Remove baby from the carrier, get some air circulating around the two of you. Go somewhere cool or air conditioned to get some relief from the heat.
  11. Check if your baby is overheating. Learn more about the signs your baby is overheating. The earliest signs are that the skin is warm to the touch and is flushed in appearence (e.g. rosy and red). If any of these signs appear, take steps to get out of the heat as soon as you notice them! If you are seeing late signs, seek medical care immediately.
Cooling off indoors
Getting some relief from the heat with an ice cold drink and some air-conditioning by stepping into a store.

Carry on! Enjoy babywearing the rest of the summer or wherever you are that may be hot, hot, hot!

 

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