by: Angelique Geehan, Babywearing Support Facilitator
For about half the year, Houston’s heat and humidity can make the prospect of snuggling up with a mini-heater unappealing. Regardless, it’s worth it to me to keep right on babywearing.
The way I figure it, I’d sweat pushing a stroller, carrying my girls in arms, and walking alone, so I might as well wear my girls up and away from the hot ground, sharing every breeze we can. Using a carrier keeps my hands free to hold our umbrella and swat away mosquitoes, and wearing my infant makes it easy to watch how the heat is affecting her.
I keep a few tips in mind to help make babywearing in the heatless uncomfortable.
• Make shade. Hats for you and the baby make a big difference, but I prefer to use a compact folding umbrella, which I keep in the diaper bag. I think our heads keep cooler, the shade it gives is more generous, and I have fewer accessories to lose.
• Use water inside and out. Keep yourself and the baby hydrated. Wet the baby’s hair, the fabric of the carrier, or a hat or scarf with water to benefit from evaporative cooling. Fanning yourselves will give the cooling effect of water a boost. I try to keep a folding hand fan in my purse or the diaper bag for this.
• Wear less or lighter clothing. If you like, go down to just a diaper for the baby, and wear as light a top as possible yourself.
• Choose cool, breathable fabrics for both clothing and the carrier. Linen is a personal favorite, but airy cotton (like cotton crinkle gauze) and some synthetics (particularly some kinds of mesh) may work. Wool may seem counterintuitive, but some warm-weather wearers swear by its natural breathability. Each fabric is different, so have fun and experiment a bit.
• Choose carriers (or carrying styles) that minimize layers as padding around your bodies. Ring slings and pouches usually rely on one layer of fabric, for example. Mei tais and soft structured carriers, which consist of a panel that fastens by tying or buckling straps, generally allow air to flow around your bodies. Those using woven wraps can try a ruck, kangaroo, rebozo, or front wrap cross carry with the crosses bunched. Most stretchy carriers require several layers for safe carrying, so I don’t recommend those for hot weather.
• Follow your instincts about how much outside time is enough and retreat inside once in a while. Please familiarize yourself with the signs of heat exposure, so you can avoid endangering yourselves.
For more advice, please join us at our next babywearing support group on Saturday, July 23 at 10 a.m. Or email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.