THIS BLOG WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE THRIVING MAMA VILLAGE PAGE ON JULY 2, 2020. THE BLOG HAS NOW MOVED TO THE MAIN MILK & OIL CO PAGE. SOME EDITS MAY HAVE TAKEN PLACE.
It is that time of the year. The summer clothes is out & everyone is looking to get some sun; however, if you are a babywearing parent with a small child, you might be wondering what is the best way to dress & protect your baby from the heat & the sun rays. I will come back to this with some pictures or a video in the next couple of days, but for now, the summer is here, the lockdowns are lifting up & there is no time to waste getting ready for carrying babies under the hot sun. Here I will discuss options on how to babywear in hot temperatures above 25 degrees celsius.
We have several things to consider including how to dress; what carrier to use; what accessories to have on hand; & of course, safety.
WHAT TO WEAR:
The parent should wear light breathable clothes using materials such as cotton & linen. Cotton is less breathable so you may sweat more; try to wear light shirts or sleeveless outfits. Every layer between you & baby will increase the heat, so it's better to add more on top for sun protection than to have several layers you might need to peel off after setting your carrier.
The baby should wear very light clothes. A one piece cotton or linen onesie or a romper is enough in hot temperatures, but very thin pants may work if it's not too hot or if baby already walks & may get out of the carrier at some point. Remember it is better to accessorize to cover the baby's legs & arms than to add several layers inside the carrier. It's also important to note how the sling adds more layers to the equation, so a wrap with several passes will count as 1,2 or 3 extra layers covering the baby. We want to make sure baby is wearing something light so as to not be extremely hot & sweaty; the heat between you & the baby will add to the possibility of baby's temperature increasing inside the sling. This is what we want to avoid.
CHOOSING A SLING:
Your sling of choice needs to be comfortable for you & baby, but also made of breathable materials. There are several options & you can do some research into what works best by doing a google search if you are an experienced carrier, or contacting a babywearing consultant or sling library in your area (or online) for advice.
Ring slings, Meh Dais, Buckle Carriers with mesh material & breathable linen wraps make some of the best options. What you choose is entirely up to you & you need to think about your comfort & that of the baby; however, also consider options that already provide good sun protection & that do not add extra layers to the baby.
For smaller babies 6 months & under, the carrier will most probably protect baby completely & you may just need to consider protecting the legs & head. Babies 6 month & up tend to take their arms out, exposing also their necks in the process. These are all important points & we will address how to protect the skin just below.
For now we should have a lightly & comfortably dressed parent & baby inside a breathable, safe & comfortable carrier.
For the parent
In terms of sun protection you can choose between SPF creams of high protection 30+; light long sleeves breathable shirts you can take on & off without removing the carrier; or a parasol. All these options have pros & cons. If you chose to wear only SPF protection you should apply enough cream in a cool environment at least 15 minutes before you set the carrier to avoid too much perspiration; access to a fan or air-con system allows for the skin to dry even faster (keeping yourself at a safe distance & baby away from the fan!). Choose a cream that you know works well for your skin & reapply several times throughout the day following the instructions on the package. If you choose to wear a breathable long sleeve shirt on top, it's always good to add sunscreen to any exposed areas of the body & just having the lotion available in case you need to apply more. A parasol is always a fantastic idea as it also protects baby from the sun, however, you lose the use of one hand so you may be more limited on what you can do. The magic here is you can use one or all three options!
A personal choice I always add is applying a moderate amount of hypoallergenic skin powder on the covered skin as this is a great way to absorb the moisture from the sweat, keeping you cooler. But since skin products are a personal choice, this is exclusively a tip & not a recommendation. It does work wonders, nevertheless!
For the baby
Babies under 6 months are not recommended to use sunscreen so we should focus on protection through other means. For babies 6 months & up, sunscreen is usually recommended but you should always check with your health provider, do research in terms of what sunscreen fits your personal needs & if your child has any allergies or reactions to creams or the sun, you should check with your doctor before you expose the baby to any warm temperatures.
If it's not too hot, some parents choose to put long cotton socks to protect the baby's legs. This is an option, however, in temperatures above 25 degrees Celsius, socks may overheat your baby. Another great option is the use of a parasol, but as mentioned above, the parent may not be as comfortable carrying constantly on one hand when out & about exploring.
A personal favorite for me is the use of a long muslin cover. Muslin covers provide a fantastic option for both parent & baby. You can wrap it around the carrier covering baby's legs without it adding too much warmth, or you can use it over the parent's shoulders and then covering the baby's legs, providing a thin layer that works as double protection. One piece of cloth for both of you. Side note, in very hot climates you may run into air-conditioners, so having a small cover for you & baby is optimal to avoid switching back & forth from extreme temperatures. Do not, under any circumstances, cover the full carrier & baby with any type of cloth.
Other accessories are, of course, hats & sun glasses for both of you & if you are back carrying or baby is front-facing, a mirror or phone to check on your baby. Small babies may reject sun hats, so you can use the top layer from your wrap or the head protection included on buckle carriers & meh dais to cover their head.
So now you should be all set, let's review:
1. You are both dressed with light, breathable clothes & baby is inside a safe, comfortable & breathable carrier that works well on the hot weather.
2. You have made sure to accessorize yourself & baby so you are protected from the sun. You have good shoulder & neck protection on yourself (cream, parasol, shirt or muslin cloth) & baby (light socks if possible or parasol or a muslin cloth if they cannot wear sunscreen).
3. You both have protection for the sun & heat on the head (sunglasses & hats) & baby is well monitored if on your back.
Now it's time for our safety checks. Nothing changes in terms of safety when babywearing in the heat; if anything, safety checks increase. We should look at the traditional checks first:
a) Position (Baby's natural curve & knee position, hands close to the face if a newborn)
b) Open airways (Space between chin & neck; unobstructed breathing position of the nose).
c) Parent is safely hands free (Check your sling).
d) Baby is close enough to kiss.
I will add three more safety checks:
Baby & parent are properly protected from the sun. Sunburn is extremely dangerous.
Baby & parent remain hydrated. If breastfeeding, make sure you provide enough for your baby.
Baby on back (or front-facing) is monitored through a mirror or phone to avoid sunburn or overheating.
Remember ! Hot babies don't make much noise & in hot temperatures overheating is not a fantasy. Check on baby constantly, take breaks & hydrate !
Disclaimer: All the advice provided here is simply that, advice from my training as a consultant & personal experience while carrying my son for 2 years while I lived in Thailand. It is the responsibility of the carrying adult to verify every aspect related to safety & any medical conditions that may limit carrying, or advise against exposure to the heat & sun. If you have any questions or concerns on babywearing, send an email to email@example.com so I can answer your questions or take them to a consultant forum; you may also contact a local babywearing library near you or an online babywearing consultant. All common rules & safety procedures for babywearing apply as usual. If you have any medical questions, or if the carrying adult or the baby have any medical issues, or there are any concerns regarding the use of a specific material or skin product, contact your health care provider. The author of this blog does not bear any responsibility for misuse of the information provided or accidents that may occur from carrying in hot temperatures.