Baby-wearing in Cold Weather
A common question being asked by many baby-wearing parents, as the colder months approach, is how to keep their child warm and dry enough while in the sling. Babies in prams can be wrapped in blankets and big coats, but when carried a parent is restricted in how they can cover their child. Fortunately I started baby-wearing in the freezing winter of last year, when it snowed for weeks, so I learned a few valuable lessons from the get-go.
How you tackle this problem depends on a number of factors: the age/mobility of the child, what type of sling you have, and what sort of disposable income you have. Let's the start with the legs:
The legs are the most exposed part of a baby when they're carried in a sling. They dangle in the wind and can easily become wet in the rain. The best solution I found to this was to put baby into a snowsuit. These are warm and waterproof and very cheap. Put a pair of tights or leggings and extra socks underneath for extra cold days. For mobile babies who might want to walk at some point, you may want to invest in some warm boots. But again, a footless snowsuit is perfect. Alternatively put a pair of tights or leggings underneath warm trousers.
Let's move onto the body. If you have a thick, warm sling such as a woven wrap or soft-structured carrier, this will provide some insulation. Remember also that your baby is being held against your body, so your body heat will keep them reasonably warm. It's best not to wrap your baby's body too warmly. You don't want them to overheat! If it's very cold, a snow suit should provide plenty of insulation. But for the autumn months you can probably get away with a warm sweater or even a couple of quite thin long-sleeved shirts. Layers are good as you can remove them if your baby feels too warm.
If your baby will wear mittens, put them on. If they won't, like mine, try to keep their hands inside the sling. Or, if your hands are free, hold their hands in yours to keep them warm. Also, a warm hat is ideal, again if your baby will wear it!
The other option to all this is baby-wearing apparel. There are a variety of coats and ponchos on the market now specifically designed to cover you and your slinged baby. But many of them are very expensive, especially if, like me, you work to a tight budget. One solution is to make your own! There are a few instructions for making your own baby-wearing poncho on the Internet, some of which are very simple and don't even involve any stitching!
As for the rain; the simple solution is to use an umbrella. But for windy days, or if you don't have a free hand, you can buy baby-wearing rain covers online, and they're relatively cheap and fit over any sling. And some brands of soft-structured carrier have designed their own weatherproof covers.
Overall, as long as you keep their extremities covered and dry, your baby should be snug against you; more so than in a pram. As for you, if your baby is on the front you can wear a warm coat and just leave the front open.
Your baby's heat will keep your front warm. If your baby is on the back, layers of warm clothing would be better. You don't want your baby's face smothered by a thick winter coat. I always found I was plenty warm enough in a thick sweater over a polo-neck shirt, with my daughter against me; and the extra effort I spent carrying her when walking provided plenty of body-heat for us both.
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