The Winter Solstice may have passed & the days are getting longer, but there’s still an icy nip in the air. A question regularly asked by babywearing mums is “What is the best way to carry in the cold?”
As with all things there is no single right answer so we talked to our models and photographers, as well as some babywearing experts, to see what they do when the days turn chilly.
Every carer will have their own favourite style of winter carrying but here is Oscha’s rundown of our favourite options for carrying in the cold.
Wrapping under a normal coat: Our photographer, Kim, favours this with newborns or tiny kids. She suggests getting a double breasted coat which can be worn both with and without your child. This method has the benefit of keeping your child close to your natural body heat – meaning they will find it easy to regulate their own body temperature and you will soon know if they are overheating.
Babywearing coats: This is a very popular option and there are many different styles available. A great option for those who’d prefer to not to wrap over anything bulky, our photographer Leigh found a babywearing poncho to be a great solution.
More conventional babywearing coats will feature a zipped section where your child can comfortably sit, wrapped directly against you but covered by the coat. Models Rachel & Tessa like to have a wool babywearing coat for chilly days, with a waterproof hooded ‘shell’ for when the weather turns wetter.
This is a good option for those who want to keep their child close to them after they are too big to be wrapped under a normal, or even an oversized coat, and allows back carrying with ease!
Another approach is a zip-in panel for your existing coat. These can be bought separately, for use in any coat with a zip, or many companies offer a matching addition to your coat to convert it into a babywearing version. This is great for people who may want to buy one winter coat – the inserts meaning your coat can easily be worn when you are not carrying – making it a more versatile option than a standard babywearing coat. Of course this wouldn’t work for back carrying!
Our model Anne used a coat insert when her child was little and then moved on to wrapping over a coat when she was bigger – you may find you change your mind about which method suits you as your child grows!
Wearing over your coat: Layering your child up in their warm clothes is essential if you are going to carry this way, as you will be sharing less body heat. This is a really nice option for those with bigger kids who want to be up and down regularly. Maria likes to use this method with her toddler so that it is easy for him assert his independence – a ring sling can be a great option for quick ups and downs.
This is a good method for bigger kids on shorter walks, although some, like Kim, may choose to carry like this more regularly and for longer.
If you are going to wrap over your coat consider the extra bulk involved in this method. You may need a longer wrap than usual, and it may be harder to get a snug fit for your little one. Do ensure your coat is snug against you to avoid any slipping and take an extra few minutes to check your child’s position & comfort before setting off!
Simply layer up & forget the coat: This was Zoe’s favourite method when she was carrying her kids. Making sure everyone is bundled up and cosy, with coats, booties, gloves and hats for the kids. “I would just put on a cosy jumper along with hat and gloves. I found that using a long (preferably) wool-blend wrap and the heat of my little one was plenty to keep me cosy on long winter walks. It was like having a wee hot water bottle!” Double hammock is a nice carry for this method as you get wrapped up too. Again, make sure that you are achieving a snug carry when using this method.
An oversized hoodie or cardigan can be worn over the top of both of you to make this method even more toasty!
Picking the right Carrier or Carry:
Picking the right carrier is also important for winter wrapping. When deciding you should consider the blend, the style and the carry you will use.
Wool blends are ideal for this time of year as wool has great temperature regulating properties, meaning it will be easier for your child to cool off and keep warm as the weather fluctuates.
For those who find normal wool too prickly, cashwool or Superwash wool could be an excellent alternative – all the warmth and breathability of wool without the prickle. Bamboo can also be great in cooler weather, giving wraps a lovely cushy thickness, while silk and hemp blends are strong and temperature regulating: a great benefit when carrying in cooler weather as this will allow you and your little one to maintain a regular body temperature.
It is also worth considering the type of carrier you might want to use in cooler weather. This should be based on the comfort of you and your child, and the method of wrapping up warm you are going to choose. A ring sling, Cairis or Coorie may be better for wrapping over a bulky coat, while a wrap may be better for wearing under a babywearing coat or an oversized hoodie.
Carries with multiple passes are advised for cold weather wrapping, these passes act as an extra layer of support and warmth for your little one!
When wrapping in colder weather the main thing to consider is the safety of you and your little one.
Very tiny babies will find it difficult to regulate their own body temperature, especially if they are separated from your body heat by layers of clothing. Make sure you are regularly checking they are a comfortable temperature – not too hot, or too cold.
The best way to do this is to feel your little one’s chest, if it is very cold or a little sweaty then they are probably not comfy – this should be addressed quickly.
Bigger kids are better at regulating their body temperature and are more able to tell you if they are uncomfortable – check in with them regularly to make sure all is well.
Keeping airways clear:
When wrapping in colder weather there are more layers of clothing to contend with, both on yourself and your little one. You should be checking frequently that your little one’s airways are clear and are that their faces are not too bundled up in clothing or obscured by scarves. Thick or over-large snowsuits are best to be avoided, as the excess fabric can bunch up around the face and impact normal breathing.
Be mindful of positioning:
While well-fitting snowsuits can be a great way to keep kids warm in extreme cold (if airways are clear), but babywearers should be careful of ‘starfishing’. Starfishing is where a child’s legs are stretched straight by the bulk of their warm clothing, causing them to hang down. This isn’t good for blood flow or for ergonomic positioning. Make sure your child has good mobility in their legs and that their movement is not restricted by clothing. Thin, warm layers are a great way to make sure your child is able to breathe easily and is always comfy.
Parents should also be mindful of extra bulk in the nappy area, especially if cloth nappies are being used, as this extra padding may make it difficult for healthy blood flow to your little one’s extremities.
Keeping your little one snug:
Keeping your little one’s fingers and toes toasty is important to consider in winter weather.
Layers are the key to winter wrapping: lots of thin layers for you and your little one will make sure you are both toasty without the bulk. This will ensure airway remains clear and help avoid starfishing. It means you can quickly and easily remove layers if your child starts to overheat. Similarly, more layers can be added easily if the weather takes a chilly turn.
Our Photographer, Maria says “I like to use a wool overall, it is perfect for keeping them warm, but not too warm!”
Hats, gloves, socks and thermal booties are a must for winter carrying – any exposed skin on bitter days should be avoided! Woollen tights are a great way to avoid a gap appearing between socks and shoes … tights can be perfect for boys and girls, especially when they are very small and might not be able to alert you to their chilly ankles!
Hazel-Ann, our model on Shetland, favours a hat which ties under the chin for extra warmth and added security!
This post by no means covers all ways to carry in the cold, but we hope this will set you on the right path this winter. If paths are icy make sure you have grippy shoes and would be comfortable walking alone before deciding to carry your little ones … we would recommend detachable shoes grips such as Yaktrax for keeping safe on icy paths.
We would love to hear your methods for keeping warm … please comment below with your own ‘top tips’!