Flip flops are being dusted off. Pasty legs are emerging. It can only mean one thing: summer is almost here!
We’ve spent the last few months making sure our little ones are all wrapped up and warm enough in our slings and carriers. Now thoughts turn to warm spring days and scorching summer heat. What are the best slings or carriers for summer? How do you keep you and baby safe and cool? Is it safe to wear your baby at all in hot weather? You can find our recommendations for the best summer slings here, but let’s deal with safety first.
IS IT SAFE TO WEAR YOUR BABY AT ALL IN HOT WEATHER?
Yes, it is safe, so long as you take some safety precautions and use your common sense. People all over the world wear their babies in all sorts of climates, including very hot ones. After all, being close to your body helps babies regulate their own temperature, helping prevent them from overheating. Those of us in the UK are known for going a bit crazy when the sun comes out (it’s 70*F! Quick, get out the short-shorts! Men, remove your t-shirts immediately!) But there’s no need to panic about wearing your baby in the summer months.
HOW SHOULD I DRESS MY BABY WHEN IT’S HOT AND SUNNY
Dress yourself and your baby in minimal clothing, but make sure baby is well covered. Opt for thin, natural, breathable fabrics to help avoid getting too sweaty and sticky. Remember, babies’ delicate skin needs robust protection from the sun. Having more skin exposed to the sun won’t necessarily cool down you or baby. Thin, loose clothing which covers the whole body, and through which the breeze can circulate, is usually the best idea. I like to go for thin, floppy long-sleeved tops, and trousers that are a size bigger than my little one would normally wear so that his feet are covered.
However, if it’s a very hot day then one thin layer of natural fabric between your body and baby’s may be enough – e.g. a vest top for you, with baby in just a nappy. Or nappy and shorts if you’re concerned about leakage or explosions. Your baby will be mostly covered by your sling/ carrier, but it’s likely that their legs, feet and head will be exposed – possibly arms too – so you’ll need to take extra care to protect these from the sun.
So if your baby is old enough, ensure they are well covered in a suitable sun cream. You may be able to use the extra fabric or ‘tails’ of your stretchy wrap or ring sling to drape or tuck over their legs.
For babies under 6 months who are too young for sun cream, our top tip is to tuck a muslin into your carrier to cover their legs (and arms if needed), so exposed skin is shaded but lots of air can still circulate.
If possible, stay in the shade and stay out of the late morning and midday sun. Mad dogs and Englishmen, as they say.
HOW ELSE CAN WE STAY SAFE AND COOL?
A wide-brimmed summer hat that covers baby’s head, face and neck is a summer essential for all babies, whether you’re wearing them or not. Hats with chin straps are especially useful if you’re carrying baby on your back. (Tip: Use one of our clever little clips to avoid Lost Hat Syndrome).
You might also like to use an umbrella or parasol to shade you both.
Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water. Yes, I know it’s hard to remember sometimes and you probably don’t get enough time to pee as it is, but it’s really important. We all need to take in extra fluids in warmer weather. This is especially important if you’re breastfeeding. Be sure to offer your baby extra fluids, too. If you are breastfeeding a baby under 6 months then offer some additional breastfeeds. (Seek medical help if you are ever concerned about baby getting dehydrated: these suggestions are no substitute for qualified medical advice.)
Water on the skin can also help keep you both cool. Some people like to carry a little squirty bottle of water for the occasional spritz on the face or feet. If you’re really hot and already sweaty, you might as well pop a cool, damp flannel or muslin on your chest between you and baby.
Take a break. If you or baby get uncomfortable, take the sling or carrier off and deposit yourself in a shady nook or air conditioned shop to cool down. If you’re just not comfortable wearing your baby in hot weather and prefer to use a pram or pushchair, that’s fine too!
Photo courtesy of Ronnie’s Creative.