Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hot tots, and their hawt mamas (and papas)

The birds are singing, our cars have an artistic yellow-green coating, and shorts and flip flops are being seen in the frozen foods section of the grocery store.  That must mean it's almost summer!  Summer in DC can be quite warm.  Who am I kidding?  Summer in DC is sticky, hot, and often sweltering.  Certainly there are days when a stroller might work out better for you, but lots of summer activities (and some babies, too) aren't stroller friendly, so how are parents to cope when it is time to strap an adorable little heater to themselves?  Do we need to hang up our carriers until fall?  Never!  We have a few suggestions to make summer wearing more enjoyable for everyone.

The first suggestion comes from Matthew, he says wearing tech fabric clothing yourself helps.  So those fancy shirts designed to make you stay cool when going for a 30 mile hike?  Yeah, a day at the zoo with a toddler is comparable, you might as well dress that way.  I often find back carries FEEL less hot than front carries.  It isn't like your little inferno suddenly becomes a Popsicle(who knew that was a proper noun?), but I find I tolerate the heat better against my back.  I like a mei tai or soft structure carrier, but a one layer wrap carry can also be a great suggestion, especially in a light colored wrap.  Sometimes leaning back a bit from time to time to get a little air between you can be a great thing.

Lindsay has a suggestion that is great when little one likes to be wrapped for nap, but it's 90 out and you need to get things done.  This carry is not only for when it's hot, it's hawt.  Lindsay is sporting a double hammock carry topless.  Since there is a torso pass that is spread across your chest, it allows for a modest topless carry.  This one is really only good at home or in your garden though, there isn't a solution for getting baby down without becoming quite a show.
There are also some fabrics that can be better choices than others.  I don't think I would choose a fleece pouch for July in DC, for example.  Figuring out which fabrics are terrible choices can seem easy, but which fabrics are good choices?  There are traditional summery fabrics like linen or 100% cotton.  Linen is a great summer carrier.  You can get linen ring slings, linen blend wraps, and even some linen mei tais.  Linen is light and airy and very breathable in warm weather.  Cotton gauze is also a great summer wrap fabric (and it is easy to DIY).  It requires more careful wrapping to avoid pressure points, but it can provide a supportive carry with quite a thin fabric.

Some parents are concerned about the baby overheating more than themselves.  There are carrier choices that can help with that.  Dress baby lightly (or even just a diaper) and use one layer carriers over them, a single layer wrap carry, a ring sling or pouch, or even a lighter weight mei tai or soft structure carrier can help keep baby from over heating. Some parents will also occasionally place a damp towel between them and baby to provide some temporary cooling.

However, if your little one is truly a mini-furnace, another possibility is to use a special extra breathable fabric carrier.  Solarveil is a material that is no longer in production, but there are a lot of carriers around that use it.  It is a durable mesh-like fabric.  It provides some sun-protection and is also quite breathable.  Another bonus for solarveil is that it dries quickly when used for and entire pouch/mei tai/ring sling/ or wrap.  This can make it the ideal choice for wearing in the pool, ocean, or lake.  When trying to wrangle a toddler or preschooler in the water while also keeping baby safe, wearing is the perfect solution.  Another fabric that is often used for this is solarweave.  Solarweave has a UPF 50 and there are several sling and soft structure choices that use it.

No matter what style of carrier you choose, make sure both you and baby remain well hydrated.  Remember that you must replace all of that water you are sweating out.  Also remember that while ice cream or a Popsicle (still a proper noun, thanks spell-check) may sound like a great summer treat, you do NOT want to let them eat it while in the carrier. Otherwise carrier, you, and your hair will all be colorful, fruit flavored, and even stickier than you were with just the heat as a contender.

The final thing to always remember when wearing in the hot DC sun is to protect those tiny noses and toes-es.  A solarveil carrier cover like a Monkey Pocket can be a good choice for keeping baby out of the hot sun.  A sun protective hat with a chin strap is also a necessity.  I have a sun-protection cape that I use on my daughter when she is in the carrier.  This is especially important for babies younger than 6mo as the pediatrician usually recommends waiting until after 6mo for sunscreen.  Something you may not be aware exists and can make any clothing UPF is Rit Sun Guard.  While your little one might be amused by turning the color of Elmo, you probably want to avoid the associated misery.

So, get out there and enjoy the sweet, sweaty, summer snuggles brought to you by babywearing.

Posted by Ann Marie
Pictures from Nicole, Ellen, Lindsay, and Ann Marie

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