Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Summertime Water Fun with Babywearing!

J demonstrates a mesh sling with a toddler in a local lake
One of the trickiest parts of taking babies and young toddlers in the water is that they become very slippery and tricky to hold.  Whether you're at the beach, a lake, the sprayground, or the pool, babies want to be part of our summer fun!

Babywearing can be a lifesaver, both literally and figuratively.  If you have older children that need hands on attention while you also hold the baby, a sling can make a world of difference.  While you always need to be aware of where baby's head is in relation to the water, and you will need to monitor the baby for chill, a sling can allow the whole family to enjoy summer water play.  Front or hip carries are the safest choices for being in water to best monitor baby's airway.  I know sometimes, even with baby on front, I've gotten too exuberant with our play and baby has gotten a mouth full of water.  It's easiest to recognize and remedy errors in judgment when baby is in front of you.  It's also easier to teach water fun like splashing when baby is in front and can see you patting the water.  We want our babies to associate water play with fun, not fear.

A shows us how a sling makes it possible to parent 2 children in the water.  She supervises her older son learning to boogie board while holding her younger son safe out of the waves.

One place I do not recommend wearing near water is on boats.  Babies and children need a Coast Guard approved floatation device on at all times in a boat, and the flotation device will not work properly while attached to an adult.  I love to babywear, and I see how wearing seems like the safest way to keep baby from falling overboard, but if there is an emergency requiring everyone to abandon the boat, you may not have time to remove baby from your carrier and add a proper floatation device.

Now, on to the carrier options:

Ring Slings:

K demonstrates a mesh sling at the beach with her toddler
I loved water ring slings.  I owned a few over my wearing days and they are quick in and out for baby, they dry fairly quickly, and they have a handy tail which makes a fabulous kick board for preschoolers learning to swim.  In general they are made from Athletic mesh (like gym shorts) or Solarweave (a material similar to men's swim trunks).  On the used market you may find some solarveil slings as well.  These materials have the qualities of handling water well, and drying quickly.  The concern of weight distribution is less important when wearing in water that at least comes to the baby's body because the water helps carry some of the weight.
M demonstrates a mesh sling at the beach with her sweet baby.  This shows excellent sun hat usage too!
K uses a mesh sling at the beach

C demonstrates using a solarweave sling in the pool with a 7mo old Z.
Grandma demonstrates a blue solarveil sling in the ocean with a 4mo old baby.
A Zanytoes Splash at the pool with a sleeping newborn
Several companies sell water slings.  A couple of our favorites are Zanytoes for the Zanytoes Splash (the solarweave slings pictured).  Comfy Joey,  Beachfront Baby, and Sweet Pea Slings  offer mesh slings in a variety of colors. KoKaDi has recently introduced their own water sling in pretty prints!  As mentioned, several companies once sold solarveil slings, these are available on the secondary market.  Always rinse your carrier after use in water to rinse out chlorine, salt, etc.
Water wraps are great for those needing the symmetrical support of a wrap even when wearing in the water.  These wraps are often made of a stretchy material, similar to a women's bathing suit.  They are lightweight, pack small for your bag, and are simple to use.  Like most stretchy wraps, you can always wrap first and then add baby once you have the wrap prepared.  At one time, water wraps came in only black, but there are wider arrays of colors available these days.  The two most popular water wrap brands are the Wrapsody HDuO and the Beachfront Baby Wraps.
M shows us how to have fun on the beach and still be covered from the sun!
R shows us how to stay covered and cuddle baby at the beach in her water wrap.

P demonstrates for us nursing on the go at the beach!  Sun hats are great for nursing coverage.

Mei Tai and Soft Structured Carriers

There are fewer options in more structured water carriers.  There are some that are good for splashing, being on the beach, but just toes in the water.  But there are not a ton of options for really being IN the water with a carrier.  One buckle option is the Bitty Bean.  This carrier claims it is good for water use with a rinse immediately following.
M demonstrates the Bitty Bean at a local water park!
Another potential option is the WaterTaiTai by KoKaDi.  These are a newer entry to the water carrier market, but they are cute, have 2 shoulder support, and I expect them to be a popular choice for many families.
C shows us how to multitask at the pool nursing in her KoKaDi Water Mei Tai with rainbow dots.
Once water play fun is over, the water carrier can also be useful for after swimming showers.  Or even for your daily showers.  As I said before, wet babies are slippery.  Wearing in the shower can help everyone to feel safe while also getting clean.
G catches a shower before hitting the pool at a local rec center

Hope that this helps you find a carrier that will work to keep your whole family comfortable during water fun!  And take pictures so that next year when I ask for water wearing pictures, you all have some to share!  I love to see where you wear on your summer vacation.  Thank you to all of the members who shared photos for this post.

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