Sunday, February 22, 2015

Winter Wearing (Without a Babywearing Coat!)

Have you been wondering about how to wear the baby in the winter? There are many great babywearing coats and vests and ponchos out there, and you can even find patterns to sew or knit/crochet your own!  However, many people decide that a dedicated babywearing coat or vest isn’t practical for them or their budget.   How do you wear in the winter with your own coat and keep the baby warm?  This blog post is dedicated to winter wearing without a babywearing coat or vest.

My first fall and cool weather babywearing, I had a 4 month old and my raging post partum hormones caused me to start sweating if I so much as looked sideways at any coat. A babywearing coat was not going to be a good choice for me!  Instead, I dressed the baby in an extra layer, wrapped him over my tank top, and we went to the store.  I got some strange looks for wearing a tank top in fall, but the baby stayed warm and I didn’t sweat!  As the fall progressed into winter, I learned how to dress both myself and the baby to keep a happy medium.
 When you are wearing in cold weather, there are a few things to keep in mind that will help you choose how to layer and which carriers to use.  
Before you start, decide if you can zip your existing coat  (or maybe your husband’s coat!) over the baby worn on your front or not. This applies mostly to small babies and young infants in front carries.  If you can do this, it simplifies things greatly. If you are going to wear your baby on your back or they are too large to fit under the coat in a front carry, then you’ll be wearing them over your own coat.

First, remember that you will share body heat with the baby. If they are on your back or your front, you will trap body heat from your torso (your warmest area) right next to their torso. The areas to focus on keeping warm are the extremities. Focus on ensuring that hands, feet, and head are covered and protected from the weather. Remember that pants and sleeves will ride up and there’s a gap between hats and coat collars!  

Second, dressing in layers is very important. Think about the function of each layer and choose thin ones to help trap the most body eat without adding excess bulk.  For example: a pair of tights as a base layer (with socks and pants over top) will not only trap body heat, but also keep little legs covered when pants ride up in a carrier.  If you layer a thin fleece hooded jacket on top of the shirt and hat, you will add warmth and cover their neck and ears.  If you zip the coat over the baby, you can skip one layer because the coat will be warming them.

The third step is related to the second one if you are wearing over your coat. The outer layer that you choose for both you and the baby will affect the way you put on the carrier or wrap. Smooth coats, puffy coats, snow suits, and other slippery fabrics will make getting a secure carry much harder.  I use a wool coat for me and a fleece snow suit for the baby because they provide grip and hold the carrier in place.  If you are wrapping, this is particularly important.
Fourth and last, remember that you and the baby are both now taking up more space! If you normally can front wrap cross carry in a size 5, you will need to go up to a size 6, or modify the carry to use less wrap. If you are using a buckle carrier, you will need to adjust the straps to fit around your coat and layers. Ring slings, Mei Tai's, and most stretchy wraps should fit just fine, as you will tie them or adjust them a bit bigger than normal.

Once you have decided on the layers that work for you and have your carrier adjusted, take it for a test run! Go on a short walk in your yard or down the street, and see if you are both comfortable. Sometimes you find that the baby has too many layers and is overheating or that you have to work on getting a snug adjustment of the wrap over your coat.

Below is the picture of the layers I put on my toddler for this winter.

Written By Katie Abell
VBE and Librarian of BWI of Cleveland

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