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Carrying in the Cold

Using a Baby Carrier in Cold Weather

It’s well and truly winter and we’re all feeling it!  In or out of a sling, we’re having to think about what we dress our babies – and ourselves – in when we go out, and whether we’ll need any extra coverings or accessories.  So we’ve put together a few thoughts on Carrying in the Cold to help you out.

Don’t let the changing weather put you off getting out!  Fresh air can be a miracle cure for a grizzly baby and helps to keep everyone healthier and happier.  Snugly held close to your body, you and your carried baby will share each other’s warmth – carrying a baby is like having your own snuggly hotwater bottle!

And using a carrier allows you to boldly go where no buggy can!  On foot you can get across uneven or slippery ground safely (do wear appropriate footwear though!); your carrier gives you your hands free to support yourself or a bigger child, or hold an umbrella!

First things first – Safety and Comfort

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.  In cold weather a baby could get too cold, but with all the layers they might have on a baby might also get too hot!

Check if your baby is getting too cold or too warm: If you’re worried that your baby may be getting too cold or 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 cool, cold, hot or clammy.  A baby with a sweaty back is probably the most reliable 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 sign – hot babies often fuss or get agitated; cold babies may be less responsive.

Do I carry my baby under or over my coat?

For front and hip carries it’s usually most comfortable and practical to carry your baby close to your body, with your own coat, cardigan or a cover over the top.  This will allow you to share body heat (your baby will get much more warmth from you than from any coat or blanket!) and also gives you the best weight distribution for comfortable carrying.  Trying to use a sling or carrier over bulky coats tends to result in the carrier not fitting as well against either of you.

For back and toddler carrying it may be more  practical to carry them over your coat, especially if they want to be up and down a lot.

Fully covered back carries can be more awkward than front or hip carries, even when using special babywearing coats.  Unless your toddler is going to be napping then you don’t want to be taking your coat off every time they fancy hopping down for a bit! So make sure your baby or toddler is well dressed for the weather too.

What do I dress myself and my baby in?

This will obviously depend on the weather!  The usual guide is that your baby should wear one layer more than you would feel comfortable in. Thinner, breathable layers may be more comfortable than one thick layer, and will also help with good weight distribution and fit in a carrier.  This applies to both you and your baby – layering long sleeved tops and zip-up jumpers can be easier and comfier under or over slings than a bulky coat.

  • Carrying under your coat: If carrying your baby under your coat, simply dress yourself and your baby in whatever indoor clothes are appropriate, then put on the sling and then your coat over the top.  Your baby won’t need to wear their own coat too. The great thing about this is that you don’t need to wake a baby up to put a coat on/off when you go from indoors to outdoors – they can nap comfortabley in the sling without needing to be disturbed.
  • Keep extremities layered up: your torsos may be snuggly warm under all those tops and carriers, but those bits sticking out may need more help keeping warm!
    • Hats: For small babies make sure that they also have a hat on as this will often be the most exposed part of their body.
    • Layer up for Feet, Legs and Arms: extra socks, soft booties and leg warmers are all great for layering under or over clothes plus they can be easily taken off if your baby gets too warm.
  • Snowsuits and Coats for Babies: If carrying your baby over your own coat, then they will need to be dressed appropriately for the weather.  They’ll be getting less of your body heat and so an all-in-one snowsuit can be a great option. Bulky padded suits can affect how well a baby fits in a carrier, wrap or sling, and so some parents favour Fleece suits – these are less bulky but still very warm.
  • Don’t Overdress Your Baby!  Though it may be cold, in the UK the weather generally isn’t Arctic and a baby held close to your body with their extremities protected isn’t likely to suffer from exposure to the cold.  Some babies (and adults) get hotter than others and so do let yourself take off layers if you feel that your baby is too warm.  We’ve seen babies snugly carried in December dressed in just a vest and nappy, but perfectly warm under 3 layers of wrap and their Mum’s coat!

Do I need a purpose made cover or babywearing coat? 

In short; no, you don’t need a specially made coat or cover, but you may find that there’s a product that makes you and your baby much more comfortable for wintery carrying.  There are special babywearing coats and covers, even clever inserts to fit your existing coat or jacket, and various DIY solutions that might work for you too!

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