Babywearing in the winter can be the perfect way to keep your little one (and you!) cosy and warm, but how do you make sure you’re doing it safely?
Although you might be worried about your baby getting too cold, actually it’s over-heating that might be more of a problem. As always with babywearing layers are key – remembering that the sling acts as a layer itself, and you need to factor in your body heat too. The easiest way to quickly check your baby’s temperature is to feel the back of their neck: they should feel warm and comfortable, not cold (or even cool) or hot (and especially not clammy). If you’ve layered up effectively then it should be fairly easy to adjust what you and your baby are wearing to maintain a safe temperature.
Here are some other pointers to help you enjoy winter babywearing whilst keeping you both comfortable and safe:
There is not much cuter than a baby all snuggled up in a cuddly snowsuit, but actually the occasions when they make appropriate attire might be rarer than you think. The dangers of snowsuits and big, bulky jackets for use in carseats have been widely publicised over the past couple of years, and they are certainly far from ideal for babywearing too.
First of all they hugely increase the risk of overheating, and when worn in a sling make it hard for babies and small children to regulate their temperature.
Secondly the bulkiness of the material can make it difficult for your baby to breathe by blocking their mouth or nose and limiting the space for air to circulate safely.
And thirdly all that extra material can compromise good positioning, making it more likely for your baby to get stuck in an uncomfortable “starfish” shape and for you to feel the strain on your back as the weight is held further away from your body. It is very important to always be aware of the TICKS regardless of the weather!
On a purely practical front, it can be awkward for your baby to be too wrapped up inside the sling as if they’re anything like mine they will inevitably be fast asleep by the time you go back inside – leaving you with no option but to wake them to get them undressed rather than just being able to let them to continue their nap whilst you enjoy the cuddles.
So with that in mind…
Consider layering up on top of the sling
There are lots of different ways to do this – oversized jackets or hoodies, extendable panels for your existing outerwear, or specially made babywearing coats or ponchos.
This last option can be expensive, but it can be absolutely invaluable too. As babywearing has got increasingly popular the range of coats that will cover both you and your baby (often in both a front and back carry) has expanded. .
If you are able to go for this option, then you need only dress your little one in the clothes they would be wearing inside – or maybe even less given that you’ll be sharing body heat inside your cosy cocoon! Obviously make sure you can still see them at all times beneath your shared layer, and keep checking on their temperature and breathing regularly – and with that in mind make sure too that you’re not obscuring their face with any additional scarves that you might want to wear.
If you are wearing your baby on top of your coat, then you might need extra help to make sure they are positioned properly – and you should bear in mind that it will not be possible for you to help your child regulate their body temperature when there are lots of layers in between you. Still, especially with toddlers and preschoolers, you may well find it easier to whip them up into the carrier with outer layers intact.
And if you are wearing your baby outside of your coat it is particularly important to remember to…
Keep extremities warm
Even if it’s not quite cold enough for a total cover-up, remember that any part of the body left exposed is more prone to losing heat – especially little heads, but also hands, legs and feet.
A snuggly hat is essential for winter babywearing – for you and your little one! Some babywearing coats come with built in hoods, but it’s still worth carrying a hat to keep those ears warm.
What about the rain?
Of course a British winter would not be winter without the rain, so as well as maintaining the right temperature you’ll need to think about keeping dry too. Again this is when a big cagoule or babywearing coat can come in handy, especially if it has a hood. You could also use a child’s raincoat layered over the carrier, or a specially made waterproof sling cover – again always making sure that you can clearly see your child at all times.
Then of course there is the trusty umbrella – much easier to carry when you’re not also having to push a pram!
There is lots more information online about how to safely wear your baby all through the winter. This post from Sheffield Sling Surgery is particularly useful.
With just a little bit of care and attention there is no reason why you should not be able to keep using your Connecta in the months to come, and make the most of that wonderful fresh air – whatever the weather.