Keep your lambs warm and safe THIS winter
Many parents ask us what they should dress babies in when carrying in cold weather. It is different to dressing them for a pram, but in many ways easier as you can more easily check in with how warm they feel! Here’s a quick guide to the factors to bear in mind. If you’d rather watch a video, Sally made a great one a couple of years back: watch it here.
How are you carrying?
Think about the carrier and position you are using to carry your child. A newborn tucked into a 3-layer stretchy wrap on your front is going to stay warmer than a toddler in a buckle carrier on your back. We share more body heat from our fronts and small babies get a lot of help with regulating their temperature in that position.
Warm, but not hot
For those smaller babies on their carer’s front, overheating is more of a risk than getting too cold. Snowsuits are designed for wearing in prams in colder climates than the UK. They’re very padded, meaning that it can be harder to keep tabs on a baby’s position in the sling, and
introducing a potential airway risk if the suit rides up around the face. Thin, warm layers over normal indoor clothes are a good alternative- ideally two-piece garments so that you can remove the top half if baby gets too hot, without too much disruption. Those hand knits from great auntie Barbara come into play perfectly here, as can thin microfleece zip-ups.
On the other hand, if your toddler is going to on your back and getting up and down to walk and play, an all-in-one warm and waterproof can be ideal. Just make sure it fits them well enough that they can easily bend in the middle or you’ll end up with an uncomfortable carry all round!
Heads, fingers and toes
The extremities are the bits that get far more exposed to the chilly air, so keep them cosy. Newborn hands are usually in the sling and won’t need mittens, but toddlers and older babies who like to stick their arms out will. Stick a hat on; hats can contribute to a newborn overheating when worn indoors so make sure you take it off when you’re somewhere warm. For little feet, warm socks, slippers, leg warmers and leggings all work well to keep feet warm without too much extra bulk around the top of the legs. And for back carried toddlers, lots of socks might avoid dropped wellies too!
The most comfortable way to wear most carriers is close to your body. Wearing a sling over your coat is not only less comfortable, it adds bulk close to little faces and means that once you go inside, you’re trapped until you get baby out. When front carrying, it’s almost always comfier to put your cardis, hoodies and coats on over your carrier. They don’t need to do up around baby to provide a bit of extra protection for little feet, but there are babywearing coats available that have extra panels similar to a pregnancy panel (but bigger). There are versions that can also accommodate a back-carried child if you don’t like wearing a buckle carrier over your coat. Just bear in mind that, if your toddler wants to get down, you’ll have to take the coat off and they’ll have to have their own warm clothes which might get too hot under your coat.
Safety in frozen weather
Slipping risk is an extra factor in icy or snowy weather. Sensible footwear can provide better traction, as can adding winter grips to the bottom of your shoes. Ultimately you need to risk-assess your options given the conditions you’re in. A buggy may, or may not, be a safer or more practical option, taking into account the terrain on your route, whether snow or ice (or both) are the problem, the age of your child and how easily you can keep them warm away from your body.
Happy winter carrying!