Babywearing in Summer
Summer is upon us, a time when everyone misses those lovely, snuggly cuddles with your warm baby. With temperatures becoming warmer you might wonder if your baby is getting too hot when worn in a wrap or carrier.
30 degrees will always be hot, but your body works wonderfully together with your baby’s body. When you sweat you cool your baby down and your chest has the amazing ability to calm fever as well, so you won’t overheat the baby. Thanks to the body’s thermodynamic properties, a baby will only overheat in direct sun, never from your body heat.
There are, of course, a few essential babywearing tips for summer that will help keep you both cool.
Wear the right things:
Always wear at least one layer of natural fibre between your bodies (I personally prefer two). Put your baby in a onesie or tshirt and nappy, and wear a cotton shirt yourself. The fabric will wick away sweat and keep you cool even with the wrap or carrier around you (which counts as another layer of clothing).
Remember, it will always get hot on a hot summer’s day, and there will be days when you take your baby out of the carrier or wrap and you are both wet with sweat. Change bub into dry clothes and nappy, take everything off and throw it in the wash. You can wash all cotton wraps on 30 degrees or cold in the washing machine, don’t use any optical brighteners or fabric softener on any wraps, just treat them like cloth nappies. Always wash them separately in a pillowcase with liquid laundry detergent. Dry in shade. Repeat. This is the reason why you always need two options to wear your baby. One might be in the wash
Use a wide-brimmed hat to keep your and baby’s faces in shade (bub should be wearing a hat too of course). Use the tail of the ring sling or wrap as a sun shade for little legs when in direct sun, a muslin burp cloth also provides cool shade on arms and legs when tucked into a carrier or wrap.
Choose a suitable carrier:
The carrier should ideally be made from a natural fiber. 100% (organic) cotton would be best, but cotton blends with either linen or hemp are fantastic for summer heat. Back carries feel cooler as well. Wearing your baby high up on your back will always be cooler than having him or her strapped to your chest with your tummies breathing against eachother.
- Wraps or Ring Slings for summer:
Think of the carry you will be doing – one layer carries are the coolest and the thickness of the wrap doesn’t matter too much. There are, in my opinion, no super summer wraps! Almost all wraps are suitable for summer if they are under 280gsm. Even wool wraps are amazing in summer. Linen is stronger than cotton and can be spun thinner so is wonderful in heat, however a lot of people prefer a linen blend as 100% linen can be diggy for heavier babies.
A Kangaroo Carry will always be the coolest of all front carries with a wrap, but the ruck tops the list for a summer carry as the baby sits on your back.
Ring slings make a great summer option either on front, hip [or back for experienced wearers and older children], however they won’t provide the same support as a wrap or soft structured carrier for a longer carry. Ring slings in a front or hip carry worn with a flip are my first option for newborns as their small size means the ring sling is more than supportive enough to use all day.
Some wraps that are thicker than others but may have other heat transfer benefits such as an open and airy weaves like an indio or other very open weave jacquard or open diamond weave wraps.
Here are some brands, that offer 100% cotton wraps/ring slings in various thickness: Didymos, Girasol, Fidella, Storchenwiege, Kokadi, Lenny Lamb, Little Frog, Oscha, Natibaby, Hug a Bub Mesh Ring Sling. A great way to determine the thickness of the wrap is the grams per square metre (g/m² or gsm). Thin wraps start with a gsm of 150 and thick ones can go up over 400 gsm. A widely spread belief is that linen is best for summer. Linen is a very strong natural fibre, that can be spun into a strong thin yarn. But a thick linen or linen blend wrap may be still hotter than a thin cotton wrap. It is best to be able to test out a wrap first before you buy it as all brands vary widely in thickness and blend and what suits one person may not suit you.
- Meh Dais:
Meh Dais made from 100% cotton or linen are very comfortable in summer as they only have one layer over you and the baby. Pull the shoulder straps right down behind your head and then cross over the back before bringing to the front under the leg of your baby and tightening strand by strand, repeat for the other side. Tie off on the back. Make sure the Meh Dai offers good side stability for the baby and is adjustable in the seat, side and neck so it will fit your baby properly as he or she grows.
Soft structured carriers made of wrap material are the coolest carriers in my opinion. Canvas carriers have three layers over you and baby for support, and can get quite hot. Feel the material of the carrier that will surround your baby. It is so much more comfortable to snuggle into a soft wrap that moulds around the baby rather than into a rigid canvas one size fits all carrier that doesn’t adjust individually. I personally don’t think mesh material makes any difference in heat, particularly as the mesh is made from synthetic material. I prefer natural materials and one density of fabric over baby’s back rather than seams and different materials that behave and feel differently across a baby’s developing spine. The baby’s head should be well supported and the back should be in a natural, slightly rounded position, with knees up at the belly button height of the baby and calves and little feet free outside of the carrier. Feel your baby’s feet to get a good indication of their temperature and keep them in the shade. Make sure the carrier always fits from one knee of your little one to the other knee. If your carrier has no adjustment in the seat, use a ribbon or a ‘size it’ to cinch down the carrier to fit the baby. Make a dent into the carrier behind the ribbon you tied around it. That is where the little bum goes, sitting in a “squatting position” in the carrier. Avoid using cushions or rolled blankets as they always pose a risk and add heat. Don’t add anything to your carrier that isn’t especially designed for it.
Enjoy babywearing in summer. Keep hydrated and if you are breastfeeding let your baby have some breastmilk whenever they show interest. This is how they keep hydrated, an exclusively breastfed baby doesn’t require any water and a little sweating isn’t bad! You can keep babywearing during summer, this is where your baby belongs. Just look at your baby and think how hot it gets in the car seat or how hot and sticky it might be under a shading cover in the pram. Keep in the shade and behave wisely in the sun, slip, slop, slap and you will both enjoy your summer snuggles.