Beat the Heat! Hot Babywearing Tips
Babywearing has many benefits, but it can also have one pretty big drawback, especially when you live in Texas… keeping baby close sometimes means strapping a small heater to yourself!
One way to stay cool while cuddling baby is to switch to a lighter, more breathable carrier, such as a ring sling, SSC, or mei tai, or one made out of lighter material, such as a gauze wrap. If you are wrapping, choose “cooler” carries, such as a ruck instead of a double hammock.
Mesh ring slings or wraps are a nice alternative in the summer heat. The mesh not only is lighter and cooler for you and baby, but it can also be used in the water (pool, lake, or shower!) The mesh fabric will take a little getting used to: be aware that mesh is more slippery than the fabric usually used to slings or wraps, and may need to be adjusted more often. Due to this fact, we do not recommend mesh wraps for back carries, as the fabric is too slippery and it is easy for the child to slip out of the hold.
Keep in mind your clothing choices and your baby’s. In the summer, and especially if baby will be in a carrier most of the time, your child can wear only a diaper. Keep your clothing choices as light as possible, too, to avoid overheating.
When wearing your child outside on hot days, we strongly recommend that you remove your child from the carrier every 90 minutes or so, to allow you and the child a chance to cool down.
You can also try to cool down your child while he is in the carrier by using a cooling pad or ice, but please be aware of the following:
- do not mix wet and cold — cool them off without getting them wet
- if your child is under two years old, do not put ice on her head, back of her neck, or under her arms (this is done only in extreme cases when your child is suffering from heat exhaustion, but should not be done if the child is feeling fine — it will cool her down too quickly, and disrupt her body’s natural temperature control system).
- children two years old and under can still have trouble regulating their body temperature; if you use an ice pack you must keep it wrapped in a towel to keep it dry and to avoid prolonged skin contact.
- putting something (ice pack, cold pad) on your child’s head and neck for an extended period of time can mess up his hypothalamus
- if your child’s clothes are wet it can make it hard for her skin to “breathe” to attempt to cool down. Children need to have dry clothes on.
Using a wet rag soaked in ice water to cool down your child (not just infants and toddlers — this goes for preschoolers and older children, too!) can be dangerous. Remember, your goal is to cool down the child, not cold him down. Don’t go overboard.
EMTs have reported cases of children with cold burns due to well-meaning parents trying to cool their children down by using rags soaked in ice water. The child’s clothes were wet, and the children became hypothermic because they were sitting in wet clothes. Be especially aware of wet clothing if you and your children will be in and out of air-conditioned spaces!
One item discussed at our meeting was the frogg toggs Chilly Pad towel. This towel keeps you cool without getting you (or your clothes) wet. One of our members found them on sale at Wal-Mart; you can also find a dealer through frogg toggs’ website Dealer Locator or you can search for them online.
What are some of your favorite hot-weather carriers? Please share your preferred carriers, carries, and other hot-weather tips in the comments!