Summer is here! Your baby still wants to be carried but how can you be more comfortable when the weather is hot? Here are some tips.
Do I need a summer carrier?
Not necessarily. If you have a carrier on the warmer side and are going to be spending a lot of time in air conditioning and/or don't often need to go out in the hottest part of the day you may find your current carrier just fine. When you do venture out you can make sure you and your baby are well hydrated and dressed lightly, and you can use accessories like cooling towels to make summer wearing more comfortable. If you are looking for a summer carrier though there are lots of options!
Single Layer Carriers
Ring slings are a great option for summer since there is only a single layer of fabric over you and your baby. Choose a summer friendly fabric like linen or silk. Cotton jaquard or wrap conversion ring slings often also work well, especially if you choose lighter, airier options or linen blends - just avoid very dense and heavy wraps. The tail of your ring sling can also be used as a sun shade!
For a two shoulder (or no shoulder!) option, try a narrow blanket podaegi (also know as a Nyia) as the weight bearing portion of that carrier is the straps so the body of the carrier (blanket) can be a single light layer of fabric.
Meh dai's (mei tai's) can also be fine for summer since they are generally lighter than a lot of buckle carriers and less bulky (although my buckle carriers are non bulky so a nice summer option too!) Meh Dai's and SSC will usually give good aiflow due to the open sides (if you have wrap straps just bunch rather than spread them). When choosing a meh dai or buckle carrier for summer look for lighter breathable fabrics like linen, a medium weight canvas or a lighter weight wrap conversion (linen blends are nice). Some mei tai's and buckle carriers also feature mesh panels. Flat hoods tend to be cooler than hoodie hoods as they allow more airflow along the sides.
Summer Worthy Materials
Certain fabrics have specific qualities that may make them more suitable for summer babywearing.
Linen is a great fabric for summer. It is a natural fibre so is breathable as well as airy, and has great moisture wicking properties which help to keep you cooler on hot days. Linen is great for ring slings and feels very supportive despite it's lighter weight (linen fibres are very strong). Linen also works well for meh dai's and buckle carriers.
Cotton can work well for hot weather, depending of the weight of the fabric. Medium weight cotton duck is a great summer weight for meh dai's/ mei tai's and half buckles.
Bamboo can also work well for summer. Bamboo can often be found in exercise and summer clothing as like linen it wicks moisture and is very breathable. It offers some protection against UV rays and is antibacterial.
Mesh panels help to keep your child's back cooler (they don't benefit the parent so it's still a good idea to look if the carrier is non bulky and breathable overall). Solarveil is my favourite mesh. It's very airy and open and is the coolest mesh I have ever tried. It is unfortunately no longer being manufactured so once my stock of it is gone that's it! Heavier mesh like kooknit and spacer mesh are still helpful though in maintaining airflow and are available in a wide range or colours.
Consider the weight of the fabric too. A thinner cotton or linen will be cooler than a heavy linen blend. However thinner fabrics can sometimes be less supportive so it is important to consider the age and weight of your baby.
A lighter weight baby carrier will allow some cooling through the fabric itself, so choose the lightest weight carrier that gives you the support that you need.
Babies have delicate skin so it's important to protect them from the sun.
For the best protection against UV rays remember that any fabric convering skin is a good start, but fabric alone in not necessarily going to have a high SPF (with the exception of purpose made UV resist clothing) so choose a baby safe sunscreen and a hat.
Stay in the shade as much as possible (but don't rely on shade alone as you and baby can still burn)
Avoid being in direct sun for extended periods of time, especially between 10am and 4pm when the UVB rays are at their strongest. If it isn't possible to avoid the hottest part of the day you can try using an umbrella, a light cotton blanket/fabric, or the tail of your ring ring sling to provide some extra shade.
Current sun protection guidelines for babies and children can be found here:
More Tips To Keep Yourself And Baby Cool
Use water! Bring a spray bottle or portable mister to cool yourself and baby down or drape a cloth dipped in water around your neck (or use a cooling towel). Cooling towels absorb and hold water. You can then wrap the towel around your neck or head for a cooling sensation. Any towel soaked in cold water will help to cool you down but the difference with cooling towels is that they are supposed to hold the coldness in longer which in turn gives longer relief from the heat.
To cool you down while babywearing use the towel across your chest, around your neck or between babies back and the panel of the carrier. One side of the towel needs to be cooler for the heat to radiate away so these towels don't work as well when placed between baby and caregiver. Additionally don't use these directly on the skin of very young babies as they can't regulate their own temperature as well as older children (use the towel to cool yourself instead which in turn will help to cool your baby)
Rinse your shirt in cold water to provide some temporarily relief.
Keep yourself and baby well hydrated. Breastfed babies under 6 months don't need extra water but may need to feed more often.
Clip on Cooling Fans - these can provide temporary relief and be clipped to the shoulder strap of your carrier. Look for the version with foam blades for added safely.
Consider keeping a layer of fabric between you and baby so you both feel less sweaty. Wear a top with a higher neckline or place a thin piece of material between you.
Remember that whatever carrier you are using acts as a layer, too so dress baby lightly.
Stay in the shade whenever possible and schedule activities for the cooler parts of the day.
Wear a wide brimmed hat and choose a hat for baby with a velcro strap so baby won't pull it off (handy for back carries!) Try an umbrella to make your own shade. You can also use the hood of your carrier or the tail of your ring sling for some extra shade.
If you are wearing a buckle carrier occasionally loosen the shoulder straps a little and move your baby away from your body slightly to let some air flow between you. After you have cooled off tighten the straps up again.
If you have an older baby or toddler try a hip or back carry to allow for more air flow.
Create your own breeze. Fan yourself with your ring sling tail!
Walking can provide some airflow but if you are sitting still for a while (and it's convenient) take baby out of the carrier for a break to cool off.
I love to sew. I have five curious and active kids who keep me busy!