Cool Babywearing in Hot Weather

Sakura Bloom baby ring sling

When you are babywearing in hot weather, there are three elements of summer cool.

Fire – Stay out of the Sun!

First step for summer cool, stay in the shade whenever possible. If you have a baby less than six months old, you should avoid sun exposure completely. If you have to be out in the sun, consider making your own shade with a big-brimmed hat or an umbrella (or, more appropriately, a parasol—which means “for sun”). Of course, if you are dealing with humidity as well as heat, the shade might keep you from sunburn but it won’t necessarily keep you cool.

A sun cover, either a sunshade made for the purpose or the long tail of a ring sling, can help keep the sun off you and baby.

Water – Drink Enough!

Stay hydrated. If you are breastfeeding, you will need a lot more water than you did before baby in order to stay hydrated and healthy this summer. Keep drinking water, and keep feeding your baby.

If you feeling too hot while babywearing, stopping in the shade to unwrap and drink could give you the break you need.

Air – Allow a Breeze!

Face it: you are going to sweat. Maybe it’s just Me of the Desert, but this was the most miserable part of summers for me when I lived in a humid, coastal area. Once you just let it happen, you can deal with it. Dealing means seeking a breeze. If nature doesn’t give you a breeze, make your own with a fan or a waving sling tail.

A lighter weight baby carrier will allow some cooling through the fabric itself, so choose the lightest weight carrier that gives you the sturdiness you need. Walking around town you will need less structure than hiking up hills wearing your baby.


Which Baby Carrier Works Well for Summer?

We’ve added two new wraps to bynature.ca that are perfect for the heat. Because we get many cottagers and boaters in our area who are escaping from Toronto for some rest and relaxation, we just had to bring these in.

Wrapsody Breeze Baby Carrier
Wrapsody Bali Breeze Baby Wrap Carrier
Wrapsody Water Wrap Duo
Wrapsody Water Wrap Duo

Though it’s still too soon to tell, we think the Wrapsody Breeze is going to be a best-seller this summer. Parents that have come out to the store to try one on are just loving how light and airy it is. Nature Mom has been a personal fan of Wrapsody’s gorgeous hand-dyed and hand-batiked prints for years.

Wrapsody Bali Stretch Hybrid Wrap
Wrapsody Bali Stretch Baby Wrap
We’re also carrying Wrapsody’s Stretch Hybrid, and, while it isn’t as light and summery as the Breeze, this lighter version provides the same function for parents who love woven wraps. The fabric is buttery soft, lightweight, and perfect for a newborn or toddler alike. In the store, we just love this wrap and it’s amazing fabric. Watch out, though. This wrap might give you baby fever, leaving you wishing for a little tiny newborn to snuggle up in one!
Sakura Bloom
Sakura Bloom baby sling

Sakura Bloom linen slings are a best-seller this time of year, and their colours have recently been updated.

Common Questions about Forward-facing Baby Carriers

Babywearing mistake in advertising photo

We caused a bit of a stir earlier this week when we posted the photo above on Facebook and asked, “Can you spot the babywearing faux pas in this Babies R Us photo?”

The answer is: the baby carried outward-facing on the back. A baby should not be carried like this. The carrier is designed to be worn on the front with the baby facing outward.

Our point was that even a very large baby store can get babywearing wrong. Someone clearly didn’t read the instruction manual before the photo shoot. It does help parents when they buy from an experienced retailer that spends the day helping parents carry babies close and safely. Our employees at bynature.ca are trained in babywearing safety.

What actually happened during the Facebook conversation, though, was very interesting. Some commentors thought that both the baby on the left (front-facing front carry) and the baby in the center (back-facing back carry) were incorrect positions. The position on the left is not optimal, but it is not unsafe either.

We had a good discussion about forward-facing carriers, and we heard some of the comments and questions we hear a lot in the store. We’ve gathered those questions for you here.

Aren’t all outward-facing baby carriers bad?

No! Not at all. We don’t sell or suggest the BabyBjorn or carriers that don’t allow for optimal positioning, but we don’t feel they are inherently bad, either. Some babywearing advocates dismiss all use of these carriers, but in other circles the Bjorn and Snugli (the carrier worn incorrectly in this photo) are often referred to as “gateway carriers.” These carriers are readily available in mainstream department stores, and they are often a new parent’s first introduction to babywearing. They can be a first step toward an optimal carrier.

The BabyBjorn, for example, has been used for more than 50 years. As babywearing advocates, we would much rather see a parent using a carrier like a Bjorn, keeping baby safe and close to the wearer, promoting bonding and easing the transition to life with baby, than not using an baby carrier at all.

But, when a narrow-seated carrier is no longer comfortable and parents come to us asking how to continue carrying baby beyond 8 months, we’ve got lots of suggestions to help them continue babywearing comfortably (and safely) for much longer than the Bjorn will allow.

Carrying a baby in a carrier is much safer than any other device (car seat, stroller, bouncy seat, swing, etc.). Evidence supports this. We would rather support parents using these carriers, so they understand that it’s safe and good for baby to be carried close, especially since it can mean the difference between having a baby carried or not carried at all.

Isn’t wearing a baby front-forward facing unsafe for the baby?

No, there is nothing generally unsafe for baby about it. Forward-facing is not ideal, but it isn’t unsafe either.

But, I heard that outward facing baby carriers harm a baby’s hip development.

There isn’t any substantiating evidence that supports the theory that forward-facing is harmful to developing hips—despite rumors circulating on the internet. Absolutely no studies have been done with babies.

Front-forward carrying does not cause hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is congenital, meaning: babies who actually have hip dysplasia are born with it. A mild case could potentially be exacerbated by swaddling or poor carrier positioning, but poor positioning isn’t going to give a baby hip dysplasia.

Does forward facing babywearing cause a baby’s back to arch?

Yes, it can, and a baby’s back should not arch in any baby carrier, but that can be fixed with proper positioning.

Shouldn’t the baby have hip support in a baby carrier?

An optimal carry will support a baby with legs bent at the hips in an M-shape (the baby’s bottom being the center of the M with knees at the top of the M). A narrow seat is not optimal because it doesn’t support the bent legs. Yes, the M-position is ideal, but it is not unsafe or harmful to have baby forward facing even if not in M-position.

What are the issues with front-forward carrying?

For the wearer. The front-forward carry may not be comfortable for the wearer. For a newly postpartum mother, the baby facing out puts a lot of outward pressure on the wearer’s core muscle structure—even more if baby is hanging too low—as well as downward pressure on the pelvic floor. With a body that is recovering from pregnancy and birth, a body still processing relaxin, this outward pressure can damage the pelvic floor and core muscles and delay muscle recovery.

For the baby. There is nothing inherently unsafe about front-forward facing for a baby. A proper seat will likely be more comfortable for a little one (consider how you might like to be positioned in a swing with a seat or by a narrow band across your crotch), but it’s not a safety issue.

You might find that facing forward can be over-stimulating for some babies, since they can’t look away from what is going on around them, but this isn’t a safety issue. Many babies do like to be facing forward. If your baby is unhappy with the stimulation of seeing the busy world, you will probably hear about it. When your baby is uncomfortable or unhappy, it’s time to turn around and face in toward you.

Babywearing Safety

Our focus in our physical store and our online store is babywearing safety.

Babies should face in as infants, since this position stabilizes their head and neck and protects their airway. While forward facing or a narrow-seated carrier isn’t something we recommend, neither do we call it “dangerous.” When we talk about safety and babywearing to new parents, we only call “dangerous” those real, clear dangers of serious injury or death, such as positional asphyxia, poor positioning, or improper use of a carrier.

For more information on babywearing safety, see Babywearing International’s safety guidelines.

Babywearing in Winter

Peekaru vest baby carrier

In winter, you can protect your baby from the sharp bite of the frosty air by babywearing. Keeping your baby close to your chest allows you to share body heat. Just remember to keep the rest of your baby covered.


Use a Wrap Carrier

Baby wrap carrer from Blue Celery

For younger babies, this is the ideal season to use a wrap baby carrier. Baby wrap carriers don’t leave as much room for air flow, which is a good thing in the wintertime.


Cover Those Baby Legs

Baby Spats for warm ankles

If you use a baby carrier that leaves legs free, be sure to cover your child’s legs to keep them warm. Pants can ride up and leave bare skin. Baby spats and baby legs will protect little legs.


Wear a Baby Carrier Cover

Peekaru babywearing vest

Rather than covering each spot the wind and snow try to sneak in, you can wear a cover over you both. Peekaru’s fabulous vest covers every little hollow between you to keep the cold out. This vest fits over you and your baby together. If you only want to cover the baby and the carrier, Catbird Baby makes a baby carrier cover that works with most styles of baby carriers.

Your Summer Baby Carrier

Ergo Baby Carrier for summer

Windows are open. I notice the occasional warm breeze. It’s time to ask whether you have the right carrier to take advantage of this beautiful weather with your baby or toddler. Do you have your summer baby carrier?

As you are out and about this summer, how active will you be and for how long?


Mei Tai Baby Carriers

If you will just be walking around town or going to the park, a soft mei tai baby carrier gives you a good balance between comfort and support for both you and your baby.

The FreeHand Mei Tai Baby Carrier is soft like traditional Asian baby carriers.

Free Hand baby carrier at bynature.ca

The BabyHawk Mei Tai Carrier has thicker, padded shoulder straps.

BabyHawk baby carrier at bynature.ca

Both of these mei tai carriers get great reviews from our customers.


Soft Pack Buckle Carriers

If you will be hiking and spending a lot of time wearing your baby, a soft-pack buckle baby carrier will give both of you more support.

The Ergo Baby Carrier is our most popular baby carrier—lightweight an very comfortable.

Ergo baby carrier

The Boba Baby Carrier takes the traditional mei tai shape and adds zippered pouches, straps, and buckles to make this adaptable for long periods out.

Boba baby carrier

Ergo always gets great reviews, but none of our customers has reviewed the Boba yet. Be the first!

A comfortable baby carrier that fits your lifestyle makes an active summer with your baby so much easier.

Babywearing Without Stuff

Mother wearing baby in a long fabric wrap baby carrier

You don’t need a lot of stuff to wear your baby. One baby carrier will cover most situations if you choose carefully. Around the world, women wear their babies multi-purpose lengths of fabric or scarves. Babywearing without stuff is not so difficult.

Most of us will probably opt for a commercial carrier for ease or safety, but don’t assume that is your only choice. If you use a length of fabric for your carrier, just be sure that you know how to keep your baby and yourself safe.


Limit the Number of Baby Carriers You Buy

Make sure your carrier or carriers match your actual lifestyle not the one you dream about. I was not a baby hiker, so a sporty Ergo would not have helped me. I did buy that style of carrier, and I didn’t use it. If you aren’t sure yet how you and your baby will travel around and what you will do, get a simple, newborn-friendly carrier to start. Wraps and slings are simple to start. If they keep working for you, you won’t need to add another carrier.


Buy a Neutral-color Baby Carrier

When you are wearing your baby, the carrier becomes part of your wardrobe. If you buy a more neutral color or design, you might not feel so tempted to get one for every outfit.

I owned several slings. Buying for my first child, I was stuck on the tail-end of the era of “all baby products are meant to make the parent look like a baby.” My first sling was an Over the Shoulder Baby Holder in light blue check with huge padded rails. I really came to hate that sling. As soon as I found my black Maya Wrap, I was set for life—then I bought half a dozen more Maya Wraps in various colors. I didn’t need them, though. Black served me well. It matched my wardrobe (as well as my graduation robes!). The revelation to me was that someone realized the parent doesn’t have to wear pastels just because she is carrying a baby. Hallelujah!

Choose a color or style that won’t deter you or your spouse or other caregivers from wearing your baby.


Don’t Get Accessories, Unless You Absolutely Need Them

If you aren’t going out in the sun, you won’t need an ozone cover up. If you are going to be spending a lot of time outside, you’ll probably be glad you invested in the cover up. If you already have plenty of blankets, why invest in a blanket that is only used for your baby carrier? You won’t need most extras, so don’t pre-buy accessories.

Use your simple baby carrier, and ask yourself what is working and what isn’t. Talk face to face with someone who has experience, and show them what you need. If you are near us in Orillia, Ontario, come by our store. We love to help parents solve bearwearing issues. Even if you don’t have someone close enough to help you face to face, call us and we will make sure you get the help you need in finding a carrier (and, sometimes, carriers and accessories) to fit your lifestyle.

Image © Andrey Burkov | Dreamstime.com