So it seems summer is well and truly upon us! Here is some tips about babywearing in the heat..
Remember that a carrier will act as at least one extra layer of clothing, if you are using something like a stretchy wrap this number could be as high as three with the extra passes. Dress baby in less clothes, even consider just having them in a nappy and then in carrier without clothes on.
Skin on skin is hot though, wearing a thin layer yourself will help wick away moisture. Something like a muslin cloth between you would also work and has the added benefit of being able to change it for another if it does become sweaty or damp.
Dehydration makes us all grumpy, regardless of age! Breastfed babies will need to feed more frequently in the heat, this will also dehydrate you more, so make sure to keep up fluids. Babies and children who are drinking water should be offered it regularly.
A wet cloth on pressure points (elbow pits, wrists, back of neck etc), a damp muslin in between you, water in a misting bottle, all can help cool you both down. One thing to be aware of is not being too excessive with cooling attempts for the baby or child, they struggle to regulate temperature at the best of times and going from one extreme to the other isn’t helpful when you are trying to encourage your body to handle the heat. Don’t use ice on a baby, it is too much. A cool, damp cloth is adequate in most cases. Another great idea is to think about evaporative cooling, wetting your hair as the adult will help keep you cooler for a longer period of time.
Natural or artificially recreated, both will help keep you cooler. Fans and air conditioners are great when carrying in the heat but obviously not always accessible. Natural airflow is also really helpful in occasions when you can access it.
Do remember that at all times you need to provide access to fresh air for baby, this extends to providing shade in other ways you may transport or sleep a baby. Keep baby’s face clear of fabric, do not cover it with a carrier or cloth. Covering a pram or capsule with a blanket will build up heat and carbon dioxide and is not advisable.
Be mindful of the sun, for little babies who you might not want to lather in sunblock, shade is your best friend. A big hat on the wearer may provide some shade for baby, also consider something like a UV protectant umbrella or of course if the option is there, natural shade is brilliant.
Back or hip carries can be cooler than a tummy to tummy position. We lose a lot of heat from our chest areas, regardless of how cool the outer layers of the carrier or any other factors, there is nothing we can really do about the heat transfer between two people. Steel framed hiking carriers which hold baby away from your body may have benefit in some hot hiking conditions for this reason. You can see from this picture taken in New Caledonia when we were hiking up a volcano that both wearer and wearee have corresponding sweat patches! Despite having a carrier with a mesh panel, taking breaks, keeping hydrated – there is very little that can be done to minimise this factor.
Take regular breaks
No matter what you do, there will always be a build up of heat when you are wearing in hot conditions. Always make sure to take regular breaks to let you both cool down, this will also give an opportunity to monitor and reassess the comfort of both you and baby, and make any changes that might help. Taking turns to share the carrying load with another adult may also be a great help if everyone is getting a bit hot.
This infographic is a summary and overview of these points: