Friday, October 24, 2014

Cold Weather Babywearing

I don’t think of it too often but we are really lucky to live in a place where we can experience each of the four seasons in all of their glory.  They really are amazing when you think about it, and I find myself always looking forward to each of them (with exception of this year, I will admit I am not quite ready for winter again if it is going to be like the last one!). Fall gives us a bit of a break from the warm weather, beautiful colors and plentiful harvests.  Winter gives us snow to play in, hot chocolate to sip and lots of time with family.   It also gives us more reasons to wear those babies while we get outside and enjoy the outdoors.  I love babywearing in the cooler weather, I feel like it gives me a much better sense of how warm or cold my little one is and I usually have a much more willing wearee in the cooler months.   Hopefully you can find some tips here to help with everything from those quick trips into the store to those all day outdoor adventures. 

In general there are several things to keep in mind when wearing your little one out in the cold. 

1.       Safety First - The same main babywearing principles and safety precautions need to be followed.   Always keep your little one close enough to kiss and their face always needs to be visible.  Their chin should be off their chest and their back well supported to keep them from slumping in the carrier.   Take care to tighten properly if using winter coats or bunting to ensure they are well supported since the added bulk can give the illusion that a carrier is tight enough when in reality it isn’t providing proper support. 

2.      Dress Appropriately - Dressing in layers for both you and your little one is always a good idea as it is proven to keep you warmer.  It also means that if you end up indoors you can remove a layer or two to keep you both comfortable while inside.   Don’t over dress though.  Keep in mind that your body heat will be adding warmth and the carrier provides another layer also.

3.       There’s a lot more bulk!-  Added layers and thicker materials mean less flexibility and range of motion for both you and your little one.  Your muscle memory can be thrown off and the way you normally get your little one in a carrier is going to feel a little different to both of you.  You need to be extra aware of this and really focus on those times when you are getting your little one in and out of the carrier.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Back carries especially can become tricky when dealing with extra layers and bulk.  Even if you consider yourself an experienced wearer I recommend practicing with a spotter or in a mirror a time or two so you can get a feel for it.  Mei tais, soft structured carriers and wraps can easily get caught and stuck on sweatshirts, jackets and hoods, keeping you from getting the carrier all the way up over baby’s back so make sure you check in a reflective surface, with a handheld mirror or ask another person to make sure baby is safely seated in the carrier. 

 The Basic Essentials:

There are many options when it comes to cold weather wearing (more on those later!). You just need to find what works for you and your child.  For me, there are several things that I consider a necessity, I keep these in my car during the fall and winter so that I always have them handy.  This way I am prepared for quick trips into the store and also for longer or unexpected periods of time outside.  

- Blanket - I like to use one that is soft and warm but not too thick to use as a make-shift carrier cover.  It is something that I always have available and it doesn’t cost me any extra money since I already have plenty of blankets.  I simply feed the corners of the blanket through my carrier to create my own cover.  This can be done in a front or back carry with any carrier type and it provides great added protection from the elements. 

- Hat - Make sure to choose one that secures under the chin especially for those older babies and toddlers on your back.  Having a hat that secures under the chin might seem like a silly small detail but it's not much fun getting your little one all ready to go on your back only to see their hat lying on the ground. 

  - Leg warmers - Perfect to cover that gap between pants and socks that inevitably happens, you don’t even have to take shoes off or get your little one out of the carrier to put them on which makes life so much easier!   



 So many options

Below is a list of items that are great for cold weather wearing.  This is just some ideas to get you started and not a complete or endorsed list of options.
Leg Warmers/thigh high socks -  Agoo (great for bigger kids), Babylegs, Rock-A-Thigh Baby Socks (check these out for socks to match your Beco Carrier!)  Also make sure to check out the many tutorials available to make your own leg warmers and thigh high socks.
Carrier Covers -   Catbird Baby, Diva Milano , Ergo, Infantino, Kowalli, MaM, all offer carrier covers.  There are great tutorials out there for making your own cover also.
Babywearing Coats -   Boba Hoodie, Boba Vest,Diva Milano, MaM has several options, Suse's Kinder-Coat,.  There are many options on Etsy and there are many great and simple tutorials available on how to make your own.   You can also use a coat that is a couple sizes too  big to use for front carries without making any modifications. 
Jacket Inserts/Extenders -   Hatch Things, Make My Belly Fit, several options on Etsy
Additional Accessories - You can use multipurpose straps to attach a blanket to your carrier. Try a  Cover Me Strap, one from etsy or you can make your own.

 A Few Quick Tips 

 Ring Slings -  Use the tail to double back over the main pouch and add an additional layer to cover baby.  Use the tail to cover their legs or use it like a hood to protect them from rain or snow
SSC or Mei Tai -  Put a rain coat over your carrier by placing the straps through the sleeves to help protect it and your little one from the elements.  
Wrap -  Use a wool and/or densely woven wrap for added warmth.  Use a long wrap and a multilayer carry for added layers. 

How to create a carrier cover with only a blanket -

Happy Babywearing!



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