How should I dress my baby when we go out in the cold? Do they need a snowsuit if they’re in a baby carrier? And what do I do if starts raining while they’re in the sling?
All very common questions. Here are our top tips for babywearing in the colder months.
HOW MANY LAYERS?
As a rough rule of thumb when babywearing, you count as one layer of clothing for your baby, and your sling counts as at least another. If you walk into a warm shop, house or cafe, that’s like putting a third layer on them. Always bear this in mind when dressing yourself and your baby. In our experience, parents here in the UK are often more likely to over than under-dress their babies in cold weather, whether in slings or buggies.
Unless it’s bitterly cold outside, ideally keep newborn babies in ‘indoor’ clothing, adding a warm hat or elephant hood and booties if needed, plus a coat, cardigan or suitable hoodie over both of you. This will reduce the risk of baby overheating. (Always ensure there is no fabric covering your baby’s face.)
When you head indoors you can easily undo your coat to help prevent them – and you- from overheating. Keeping baby close to your body, without bulky fabric between you, will make you more aware of how warm or cool they are.
Once babies are a few months old, all-in-one fleece suits come in very handy for babywearing, especially if you don’t want to wear a coat yourself. Opt for lightweight options that provide warmth without bulk, and put them on over 1 or 2 layers of your baby’s regular cotton clothing. If a suit covers the feet then it’s a good idea to size up, so that there’s no additional pressure on your baby’s feet when they tuck their legs up. Or go for something footless (or with optional feet) like the Snug As A Bug Suit from Little Green Radicals or the all-in-one suit from Loud +Proud, matched with these brilliant babywearing booties from Mamalila.
AVOID SNOWSUITS WHERE POSSIBLE
Snowsuits and thick, padded pram suits are best avoided when babywearing. The big puffy garment makes it hard to tell how warm your baby is and they’re more likely to overheat. Remember it’s harder to get your sling or carrier fitting accurately, tightly and safely around a baby who is wearing a big puffy suit.
This is especially critical with very young babies: if the sling is not snug and safe then the baby’s posture and airways may not be adequately supported and protected. As per advice relating to car seats – slings need to fit snugly around your baby’s body, not their clothing. For a comfortable fit, slings need to hug the contours of your body too – another good reason to wear young babies inside your outdoor clothing.
However, if you’re wearing a bigger baby or toddler, especially if they’re alternating between splashing in muddy puddles and being carried, wearing them over your coat might be a more sensible solution. You’ll keep each other warm so you’re unlikely to need arctic wear, but woollen jumpers and thin coats (think layers, not bulk) for you both, if you’re off to a muddy park, may be a good idea.
INVEST IN A BABYWEARING COAT
You can buy special babywearing coats with inserts to accommodate your baby, like our fabulous jackets and coats from Mamalila and Wombat & Co. London. There are lightweight all-year options like the much-loved Mamalila Softshell Jacket, through to the snuggly,winter-weight Wallaby Babywearing Coat and many more styles in between. And not to leave Dad out, we also have the parka-style Bandicoot Babywearing Coat and Mamalila Jacket for men.
A maternity coat, a one-size-bigger-than-usual lightweight raincoat (ideally with a drawstring waist to cinch it back down when you’re on your own), or a generously sized cardigan or zip-up hoodie from your winter wardrobe can also do the job.
PROTECT THOSE EXTREMITIES
A pair of leg warmers, leggings or tights will stop little legs getting too chilly. Check out our favourites from Hoppediz and Blade & Rose. Remember to pop a hat, snood or hood onto your baby, as this is likely to be the most exposed part of their body. And to keep little pre-walking feet warm, we cannot rave enough about these waterproof, windproof quilted booties from Mamalila. We’ve been searching for year for sling-friendly booties that actually stay on – and these really do the job!
OPT FOR LIGHTWEIGHT SLINGS
Choose a lightweight sling to wear under your coat. You don’t need a special warm ‘winter’ sling or carrier. In fact, if you’re going to be wearing a heavy coat and a rucksack, as well as a baby or toddler, you might want to reach for a lightweight carrier like an Izmi Baby Carrier or Integra Baby Carrier.
BRILLIANT BABY CARRIER COVERS
In wet months – that’s August to May in the UK! – carry a lightweight babywearing cover or umbrella, along with a hat for baby.
Baby carrier covers like the Bundlebean Fleece-lined Cover and super lightweight Bundlebean Babywearing Raincover are a brilliant keep-in-your-bag options. These waterproof baby carrier covers come in so handy throughout the year.
A giant transparent umbrella can also be brilliant to keep you both dry AND stop you from bumping into people on the pavement.
So: stay dry, stay cool, think LAYERS. Here’s more advice on babywearing safety.
This blog was first published in October 2016.
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