I think it’s fair to say this now: ‘Winter is coming’! Make sure you keep your baby and yourself nice and warm in the cold weather (yes, it can happen!). Here is some guidance, hacks and tips to keep warm, from yours, truly. You can also watch my video for lots of demos
Avoid snowsuits, pramsuits and puffer jackets/coats. They are too bulky, making it very hard to tighten your sling properly to get good positioning and keep your baby’s head well supported. This means it’s difficult to keep airways clear, which is extremely important, especially with small babies. They can also make your baby feel too hot as they’re not breathable material. Also, If scrunched up, they can stop insulating and your baby can get cold! Same goes for those duffer jackets. So just ditch them when it comes to babywearing! It doesn’t get that cold in the UK after all. Pramsuits can also be problematic because they are very thick (same problem as with the snowsuit) and narrow at the leg with footed ends. This means it’s very tricky to get good positioning. Same issue over again. So, to sum up: pramsuits are great for the pram, snowsuits are great for the snow, not for slinging!
Layers are your friend! Use thin, breathable layers to keep you and baby warm. Remember that a sling counts as 1 to 3 layers (a Close Caboo and stretchy wrap is 3 layers, for example).
- On yourself: wear minimum and thin layers (e.g., long sleeves top – if you’re breastfeeding in the sling, reach for something easy to boob in, ditch the turtle neck!), then pop your sling on and add more layers such as cardigans and clothes or accessories you can close over the sling for extra warmth (e.g., a large cardigan or coat, babywearing hoodie, a coat extension panel, a babywearing cover). Try to avoid wearing a thick layer under your sling that you would struggle to remove if you get too hot without removing the sling (think baby fast asleep on you!).
- For the little ones, again layering is fab! It’s a bit hit and miss at the beginning, it takes a bit of practice and it can be hard to know how many layers to put on. Woollen cardigans as a top layer are fab for babywearing because you can either unbutton/unzip the cardigan to cool down (remember that the concentration of the heat when front carrying is on both your torsos) or remove it without taking your baby out of the sling. Wool is also a nice, breathable fibre. If you want to use an all-in-one suit, thin, baggy fleece suits are great for that. Thin layering will keep you and baby warmer than using a thick layer and you can regulate your temperatures a lot more easily. This also means you can open/remove a top layer easily when going indoors.
Baby coat over sling hack: You can put your baby’s thick coat over your carrier/sling to keep them warm! If you have a carrier that has detachable shoulder straps, you can thread the sleeves through straps and put it on as normal. The idea is that the baby isn’t wearing the thick coat inside the sling which makes it hard to positioning the baby safely, or can pose a risk of over-heating. If you don’t have a carrier with detachable straps or use a sling, you can tuck the sleeves in the sling (make sure airways remain clear) and leave the body of the coat on the outside (see my video for hacks and how to thread a coat though a carrier).
Favour front carries if possible so you can keep each other warm, and avoid carrying your baby facing the world when it’s very cold, windy or raining/snowing to shield them from the elements. Also remember that the majority of the heat is concentrated on your front when babywearing. If you or baby are getting too hot, open your coat, your baby’s cardigan, remove a layer to cool down.
Thermoregulation and monitoring: Babies are not able to regulate their own body temperature when little so it’s important to always monitor them. When you carry your baby close to you, your body temperature will adjust to adapt to that of your baby’s to keep them at the right temperature (pretty cool, right?). Frequently check on your baby. You can place your hand on their chest to feel how warm they are (if your hand are freezing, might not be a good indicator!). If they look flushed, red, sweating or are not responding to nudges, immediately take them out of the sling to cool them down. We, as parents, have a tendency to want to overdress babies to keep them warm, but over-dressing your baby can make them overheat, so keep on eye on your little one 🙂
Keep extremities warm! Gloves, mittens, hats and warm socks are very handy. Woollen hats with strings will ensure the hat is kept on for babies who like to pull them off, especially when back carrying (check out what the fabulous Lucy, our peer supporter, makes! She designed and hand makes hats that stay on @golly_gumdrops ). For those cute little legs, you’re in luck, my friend! I design and make thick woollen babywearing socks. Check out Wrap a Hug Babywearing Socks TM! Alternatively, you can layer up several pairs of socks or try snow booties.
Wearer’s coat over sling: avoid putting your coat under the sling, this makes it hard to tighten the sling and your baby can feel cold on top your coat. Your body heat is important to help them keep warm, especially when they’re not able to thermoregulate. This applies to back carrying as well. Favour large coats you can close over the sling (use zip extensions or even big safety pins, or a belt under the sling’s waistbelt – ensure you don’t put anything tight over your baby’s back or legs), babywearing covers which you wear over the sling, or babywearing hoodies or coats. Something to consider: many babywearing coats allow for the zips to go over the baby’s head. This doesn’t mean you should cover your baby’s face with the coat. Remember to always, always keep your baby’s airways clear at all time. This will greatly reduce the risk of suffocation and overheating. Use a hat to keep the head and ears warm.
Back carrying can be a bit awkward and tricky to find a good solution to keep warm. If you are going to go for a babywearing coat or hoodie, you need to decide if you are going to back carry with it, so make sure it allows for back carry, i.e., that there is a space for your baby’s head to pop out. You can try and find a large and baggy coat, poncho or thick cardigan to wear over the both of you where the label would be just under baby’s neck, and close it with a coat extender, belt or even big safety pins. Again, try to avoid carrying your baby over your coat on your back as they might get chilly. It’s also difficult to tighten your sling properly and this can possibly give you back and shoulder aches, so be cautious. You can also layer both of you up and for a bit more warmth, wear a large shawl or even a thin blanket folded in a triangle. Keep an eye on your baby on your back using a sling mirror (contact me if you would like one!).
Rain or snow happens (rains happens a LOT in the UK!). Keep an umbrella handy. If you want to use your sling’s hood or the one on your babywearing coat/hoodie/cover, make sure you are keeping your baby’s airways clear at all times. The hood shouldn’t cover your baby’s face. They are super handy, but putting a hat on your baby and using an umbrella is safer, especially for small babies.
Brands I recommend (although there are many more!)
- Greyse make great hoodies and coats.
- Wear my Baby stocks lots of nice coats, covers and accessories. (Use code ‘Hug5’ for a discount).
- Babywearing Olivita makes lovely universal covers.
- Lucy at Golly Gumdrops makes great hats with ties.
- Wombat and Co London have great coats.
- Zipusin are the masters of coat extensions.
- Made by Zuz also makes nice hoodies and coats.
- Wrap a Hug Babywearing Socks make the one and only babywearing socks, by yours, truly 🙂
Thank you for reading. Love, Mel