It’s a weekend for slinging in the sun! Slings and carriers are great for getting out and about to enjoy the gorgeous weather, so I’ve put together a few thoughts on how to make the most of them for hot weather carrying.
You’re always going to feel warmer when carrying a baby or toddler and to some extent you’ll just have to acclimatise to the heat, like you do without baby or when going to a hotter climate. Some adults and babies will always manage better in hot weather than others, but there are a few things that can make you both more comfy…
Carriers that are made from natural, lighter fabrics will be more breathable and help wick away moisture. Linen is naturally cooler against the skin than other fabrics, and bamboo slings tend to be lighter than cotton equivalents. You can also get carriers with special mesh, or solarweave fabrics that are specially designed for hot weather use, offer increased UV protection or will not hold moisture. These tend to be synthetic fabrics which, while lighter in weight than many natural fibre alternatives may not feel as breathable or comfortable against the skin for some users.
Carriers that that have less fabric can also improve air circulation. Those that are easy to wash will also be a life-saver when you want to remove traces of sun-cream, sand, drinks and snacks at the end of a long day out.
If your baby is old enough (from around 6 months), and the carrier is suitable, then carrying them on your back will be much cooler than carrying them on your front. Woven wraps, mei tais and most of our soft structured carriers are suitable for back carries from 6 months. If you’re already a confident sling user, then you can back carry a younger baby in a woven wrap and some mei tais from an earlier age.
Ensuring that baby isn’t over-dressed is important, especially when using multiple-layer carries in wraparound slings. Most slings will be the equivalent of least one clothing layer (and wraparound carries up to 3 layers), though do be aware of parts sticking out of the sling and cover/sun-protect legs, arms and heads if necessary. Some mei tais and buckles carriers have hoods that can be used as a sun shade, and you can use the tail of a ring sling to protect baby’s head from the sun too.
We find it most comfy if there is a thin cotton layer between parent and baby to avoid sticky skin rubbing. And adding an extra layer (such as a folded muslin cloth) between your body and baby’s head can help you both to feel cooler, especially when they fall asleep.
Popular Sling Library carriers for hot weather use include lighter weight woven wraps (especially the Ellaroo, Wrapsody and Calin Bleu gauze wraps and the Fil’Up mesh wrap) as well as shorter woven wraps (3-4m long rather than 4-5m long), mei tais (such as the ByKay Mei Tai or Babyhawk) and lightweight ring slings (like our Comfy Joey Linen or Mesh Water Slings). If you prefer buckled carriers you could try the Library’s Solarweave Connecta or ErgoBaby Performance, which are made from light fabrics that don’t hold moisture. Or you could think about buckled carriers with mesh panels such as the Pognae or Lillebaby Airflow. For smaller babies, the lightweight and stretchy bamboo Hana Baby Wrap is a great option too.
The safety and comfort of your baby is important!
Babies and small children can get hot or cold much more easily than adults do and the smaller the baby the more careful we need to be with extremes of temperature.
Check if your baby is getting too warm: The best way to check (without a thermometer) is to pop a couple of fingers down the back of their neck – they should feel warm and comfortable, not hot, sweaty or clammy. A baby with a sweaty back is a good sign that they don’t need so many layers!
You can also check their face, hands and feet for colour and touch temperature. And their behaviour may also give you a clue – babies that are too hot often fuss or get agitated more easily.
Keep your baby hydrated! Make sure that your baby is drinking plenty of water (or milk as appropriate) to replace lost fluids when it’s warm. And keep yourself hydrated too!
And finally, if you find you can’t keep your baby at a comfortable temperature in a sling during hot weather then consider limiting sling use in the middle or the day. Remember that in many countries people tend to stay in the shade and rest during the hottest part of the day – if it’s too hot to be out comfortably then you may find it too hot to use a carrier, so have a sling siesta until it’s cool enough to go out again!
If you’ve got any questions about getting the most out of slings and carriers in different weather conditions, get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or pop along to a drop-in Open Session and we’ll be happy to help!
Enjoy the lovely weather; I know we will! :D xx