Carrying in the cold
Carrying in the cold and wet can present it’s own challenges! Autumn, winter, spring and even summer in the UK often means our fair share of wet and cold weather. When carrying a baby you want everyone to stay warm and cosy. You might be wondering how to keep your baby warm and dry in a sling this winter. Well, we have plenty of suggestions for you.
Sling safety and winter weather
As always when using a baby sling or carrier you your baby’s safety is top priority. Ensure the two main safety conditions. Firstly, your baby needs to be secure in the sling, with no risk of falling. Secondly, their airways must always remain clear, supported by the sling, with their face free of anything that risks suffocation. There are a few considerations that become more relevant in winter too.
Overheating: cold weather sling safety
Overheating is also dangerous for your baby! Nobody wants their baby to be cold in a sling, but we can go too far. Whilst it’s tempting to bundle your baby up in lots of layers, this can create a safety issue. Remember, if carried close to your body, not over your coat, a baby in a carrier benefits from your body heat. You can get pretty warm walking in the cold, and so can they. Check them regularly to ensure their core (chest or back) isn’t too hot.
Are snowsuits ideal sling wear in the cold?
You might think that a snowsuit is the ideal way to keep a baby warm in a sling, however, they aren’t always ideal. Snowsuits are a bulky layer of clothing, but they compress easily: they are squashy and cushioned. These may be great in a pushchair, however in a sling or car seat being able to tighten the carrier securely is essential. Snowsuits can make it difficult to get any sling tight enough. This can allow a baby to slip down inside their clothing or the sling, and their airways can become compromised. Pay extra care if carrying your baby in a snowsuit this winter. Consider layering tights, leggings, long sleeved tops, or even a fleece onesie instead.
If the ground is icy be aware that carrying alters your centre of gravity. You may be more at risk of falls with a baby in a sling. You will need to exercise your judgment about whether it is safe to carry. Remember, to consider the safety of the alternative options too. If you would otherwise use a pushchair, falling and letting go can be dangerous. Sensible precautions include wearing sturdy flat shoes with good grip. Adding ice spikes can be useful in especially icy conditions. Walk on well gritted paths where possible.
Accessorise! Sling safety and winter accessories
Cold weather accessories, such as cosy scarves, are popular and practical. When carrying a baby in a sling ensure their face is clear of scarves and other bulky material. This can cause a suffocation risk.
Cold weather sling style: dressing your baby
Firstly, pay most attention to the parts of your baby that aren’t covered by the carrier. These are the bits most likely to get cold when they are in a sling. Hats, gloves, long socks or legwarmers are all great sling wear options to keep your baby from getting cold. Hoods and balaclava style hats can be great for keeping ears warm. They are less easily removed by babies and lost. We recommend Lenny Lamb Turtlenecks; these are a fleece hood that tucks into your baby’s jumper or coat neckline. It has detachable neck warmer for you; and the two pieces connect ensuring no cold draughts when carrying in the sling.
Secondly; layer up. Several layers is often easier and safer than a thicker layer when using a sling in the cold weather. Fleece all in ones are great, or tights under trousers can add extra warmth. Keeping legs warm can be as easy as grabbing a pair of over sized socks to go all the way up little legs. If you want something more colourful then our Huggalugs leg warmers which fit from newborn to about ten years old are great!
Keep out the cold on a budget
There are lots of ways to keep you and your baby warm and dry without investing in specially designed options.
DIY waterproof sling cover
Don’t get cold and wet carrying your baby in their sling. Our video shows how you can use a child size waterproof coat to make a sling cover. You can thread it over the straps of a buckle carrier or meh dai. You could tuck it into your wrap. Keep yourself and your baby warm and dry with something you may already have to hand!
If you want to keep everyone warm a coat that’s a couple of sizes too big will often fit over both adult and baby. You may have a too large coat around the house, if your partner takes a larger size then borrowing one of their could work. Fleece jackets have some stretch, making them a good option, and they will keep a little light rain out for a while. Large fleece jumpers with a zip at the neck can be used too. If the zip opens far enough these can even work for back carrying in a sling. Wear it back to front to protect you both from the cold!
Large umbrellas are great for wet, but not windy, days, just to keep everyone dry!
Thin layers, rather than bulky coats may be best for you too. They are easier to securely wrap or fasten a carrier over than bulky coats. Slings may slide around on softshell or waterproof fabrics too, so adding these layers over the sling may be easiest. Windproof fleeces can be great to wear when using a sling or carrier in cold weather. They are thin enough that they don’t get in the way of wraps and carriers and they keep you nice and warm.
If you’re feeling creative then buying a cheap fleece, or several fleece blankets and modifying them into a coat with a hole for baby’s head can work really well too. This blog contains 10 DIY babywearing coat tutorials if you fancy having a go at making your own!
Sling and carrier covers
There are several types of sling or carrier cover available for wet or cold weather. We find the BundleBean, which comes in two options – a light waterproof rain cover and a fleece lined waterproof cover – to be the most versatile option. BundleBeans can be used over any type of sling or carrier and fit from newborn to preschool. They have adjustable velcro fastenings which go around the carrier and you. They even have detachable hoods for your baby! BundleBeans are excellent value for money with many customers getting 3 or 4 years use out of them.
You can also get panels which can zip into your existing coat. Make sure to find one with a compatible zip! Even tucking a blanket into your carrier is effective as a makeshift cover if you’re worried your baby is getting cold in a sling.
Babywearing coats and fleeces have become very popular items. They are a more expensive option than those we have considered above, but they are designed to be stylish, practical and work with every sling or carrier type. You can put your baby in the carrier as normal without needing to layer up and only add the coat when you go outside. This helps ensure no-one overheats, and avoids having to take baby out of a sling to add or remove layers. There are several brands offering different designs of coat and fleece so it is worth considering what you want from your coat before buying, and what you might want in the future! Whilst coats are more expensive up front, they are usually long lasting items, and those with removable panels can also be used as a normal coat.
They can be a valuable investment, and can often be bought or sold second hand. It is worth checking for second hand options on Facebook and eBay if you are on a tight budget.
Hoodie style fleeces are usually only for front carrying. Some can be worn back to front if back carrying. These are usually the most affordable specially designed cold weather sling wear.
Coats and fleeces with removable panels are increasingly popular. These coats offer pregnancy and front carrying options, and some also allow back carrying. If you appear to have found a bargain be sure to check carefully; many cheaper versions don’t work for back carrying. Some coats can be when you aren’t carrying a baby by removing the panel. You can get fleeces, waterproofs and fleece lined waterproof coats. Depending on the coat, when back carrying you may have to thread your baby’s head through a hole so do check how it works! Our article helps you consider what you want before investing in a babywearing coat.