Summer Babywearing Safety Part 2: Safe Activities and Babywearing Tips

Summer time is all about getting the family out and participating in fun outdoor activities. Day trip to the beach? Weekend at the cottage? Afternoon paddle along the lake front? Family week of camping? Visit to a farm? Berry picking?

We at Carry Me Close believe that babywearing is an incredibly useful parenting tool. Baby carriers are safe and comforting spaces for your child. However, like any baby product it is always important to use your common sense and to observe a few basic safety tips when babywearing. For many activities if you would not feel safe carrying your child in arms, do not attempt the activity with your child in the carrier. Here are some safe summer babywearing activities and safety tips.

Water Wearing and Water Carriers

There are baby carriers and mesh slings designed with water in mind. These are great to have when you are at the beach or wadding pool, and you don’t want to get your regular carrier wet from little hands splashing water! These carriers are quick drying and do not absorb a lot of water or get too heavy when wet.

Water Sling at the lake
Babywearing at the dock with a water ring sling.

Water slings are great for quick dips in and out of shallow water. It makes transporting your wet child to and from the water that much easier. They are handy if you are supervising multiple children alone and especially handy at the end of the day when everyone needs to shower and get changed.

However, did you know that you should not swim with your child in a water carrier or completely submerge the carrier while wearing your baby? A water sling is not a substitute for a flotation device.

Best practices are to only submerge yourself no higher than knee deep water or water that is shallow enough that if you fall your baby’s head would remain out of the water.  In deep water where you cannot wade safely and hold baby in arms, your child and yourself should be wearing a life jacket. Always be within arms reach to small children in water.

water sling beach 2
Wadding at the shore. Water wearing keeps a baby safe while looking after another little one.

Boating and Camping

Anytime you are in a water craft, motorized or not, your child should be in a life jacket. Both of you are safest in a life jacket, allowing everyone to enjoy the waves without the anxiety that accompanies the risk of falling into water. Save your babywearing adventures for land activities.

Life Jackets
Everyone is safest in a life jacket if they are going to be on the water.

Camping is a great summer past time for many Canadians! For some, canoeing and camping go hand-in-hand.  If you are camping and have to canoe to and from your campsite, babywearing can be helpful during your portage routes. Have your friends and family actually portage the canoe and carry any heavy gear. Wear your child if you don’t want to take forever to get to your final destination because a short 500m portage with a toddler could potentially take hours. On the portage route, while babywearing you could probably manage a few light things like paddles or a small backpack. Once you get to the water, take your baby out of the carrier and put them into a life jacket. Hopefully the weather is good and the water is calm. Enjoy the ride on the water to your site.

Walk to the lake
Free your hands with a meh dai hip carry and help bring supplies down to the lake.
Family in canoe
Fun and safe family canoe ride!

Nature Walks and Hiking

A great way to incorporate babywearing with the great outdoors is going on walks in the park or even a hike in the forest. There are many nice trails in the city as well as out of the city for those that are more adventurous.

Hiking family 2
Family hikes are much easier with the help of a buckle carrier.

Certain carriers may be more suitable than others. If you’re going on a short nature walk a thin and airy meh dai, short wrap or buckle carrier may be your first choice. Choose carriers that aren’t too bulky to avoid getting hot. If you’re going on a longer hike, you may benefit from using a framed backpack carrier.  Hiking baby carriers allow extra airflow between you and your child, have storage areas for gear and you can often put them down easily without having to take your child out. These may be handy features on your babywearing adventures.

Hiking Mama Meh Dai
Hiking is fun when you’ve got a great view over mama’s shoulders.
Hiking Daddy and Baby
Framed hiking carriers are great for long hikes.

Cycling

When the winter snows and spring showers are gone out come the cyclists. Cycling is a great form of exercise and it allows you the freedom to get to places that you might not normally go to. Hope on your bike for a fun ride, but don’t babywear too. Save babywearing for your final destination.

Cycling
Cycilng through fields of wild heather.

Remember the importance of cycling safety. Your child should be strapped in their own seat on your bike or in a bike trailer. Many child bike seats have weight, height and age requirements that must be met. Make sure your child meets those requirements. For small babies there are some models of bike trailers that are compatible with an infant sling seat. Lastly, make sure your child is wearing the correct size bike helmet. Many stores now carry infant bike helmets for little noggins.

Strap them in
Helmets and straps are a must! But don’t worry baby, you’ll be carried once we’re done.

Final Safety Tips

As always remember to wear your baby so that they are close enough to kiss. A high enough carry will allow you to easily monitor your child’s airway and breathing. Take frequent breaks if you or your child are getting hot.  Plus you and baby will need to stretch your arms and legs after a long carry and a diaper change is probably a good idea too. Remember if you don’t feel comfortable holding your baby in arms during an activity, it’s probably best not to babywear. So don’t go horseback riding with your little one strapped on!  Maybe try berry picking instead.  For more summer babywearing tips, check out our Summer Babywearing Safety Part 1 Blog Post.

Enjoy the rest of your babywearing summer!

Berry picking
Berry picking on a nice summer day.

 

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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!