Getting outside in the winter can be intimidating with a baby or toddler, but keeping an energetic little one inside all winter can be exhausting. In our family, it is essential to get out of the house once a day (or at least a few times per week), even during the winter when low temperatures are threatening our mobility. There are so many fun things to do in the winter months while babywearing and the littles are usually more willing to snuggle in the cooler weather! Having the right gear can make all the difference, especially when babywearing!
The key to winter babywearing is layering. Try to make sure you’ve got three layers – a thin base layer made of wicking material, a warm mid layer, and a windproof and waterproof outer layer.
The thin base layer will help to retain heat and keep the skin warm and dry. This layer should be tight-fitting and it is best to avoid cotton, as cotton does not wick moisture well. Synthetic fabrics or wool work great for this layer. Multiple layers of socks are essential in cooler climates. Since pants tend to ride up while babywearing leg warmers can also be helpful for keeping lower legs covered.
After the base layer think about another sweater or fleece. If wearing baby close to your body, you may not need a second layer. A full body option is great for smaller kiddos (like fleece PJs) and as kiddos get older two pieces may work better. If using footie PJs, make sure they are not too tight. Since these ride up when babywearing it helps to size up to avoid cutting off circulation in the feet.
If baby is exposed, the outer layer should be windproof and waterproof. Keep in mind that extremities can get cold fast so also make sure to keep baby’s head, arms/hands, and legs/feet warm, dry, and covered. One-piece suits that zip at the diaper or have built in hoods, boots, or mittens are really handy! But, these can be worn separately as well. A hat with a chinstrap is great for a baby that likes to pull their hat off (especially when wearing on the back). Soft-soled down or synthetic booties work great for non-walkers or young walkers. Avoid heavy boots or shoes, as they can cut off circulation on dangling legs. Adult wool socks that reach up to baby’s armpits are a great alternative to gloves or mittens and tend to stay on better.
Babywearing jackets, jacket extenders, and carrier covers (or blankets) are other great options for the wearer! These can be expensive, but are well worth the money if you are able to shell out the cash. However, if you can’t (or don’t want to) splurge on a babywearing jacket, there are lots of DIY options. A large maternity coat or a large men’s jacket can also work well if wearing baby in the front.
All of this gear can be expensive and really adds up over time (especially when kiddos grow so quickly). Be sure to research different brands, but also check online, in secondhand consignment shops, or in swap groups to save on costs.
Below are some additional winter wearing tips:
- Never use hot water bottles or heating pads to keep young kids warm. These can be dangerous to infants as their bodies do not disburse heat as well as adults.
- ALWAYS make sure baby’s airway is free and DO NOT cover baby’s face.
- Use your best judgment and watch for signs of overheating. Babies worn close to the body can soak up body heat and overheat if bundled too warmly.
- If baby is in a stroller or is being worn away from the body in a frame carrier you will need to add an additional layer (or blanket).
- Keep in mind that winter wear can add lots of bulk and restricts your range of motion. You may need to loosen a ring sling or the straps on a buckler carrier to accommodate the added bulk.
- Always make sure that your carrier is tightened properly, check baby’s position frequently, and use a spotter or mirror when practicing getting baby on your back while wearing a thick winter coat.
- And, since it gets dark much earlier in the winter months, make sure you are easily seen if out and about after dark. Older kids may have fun with glow sticks, flashlights, and headlamps. Reflective clothing works great as well.
Many of these tips apply to older children as well! Once you’ve got all of your gear ready, take a test walk around the block to make sure everything works for you and baby. Don’t forget, if you need help with anything babywearing related, please join us at a BWI of Central Iowa meeting. You can find meeting dates and locations on our Facebook page. Our educators can give lots of good advice and provide hands-on help! Happy winter babywearing!
Peters, Christel. “Winter Hiking – How To Layer For Infants.” Hike It Baby, 15 Dec. 2015, https://hikeitbaby.com/winter-hiking-how-to-layer-for-infants/. Accessed 27 Dec. 2016.
Peters, Christel. “HIB Hacks For Winter Weather Fun.” Hike It Baby, 22 Jan. 2016, https://hikeitbaby.com/hib-hacks-for-winter-weather-fun/. Accessed 27 Dec. 2016.
Augustine, Melissa. “Cold Weather Babywearing.” Babywearing International of North Central Illinois, 24 Oct. 2014, http://bwiofncil.blogspot.com/2014/10/cold-weather-babywearing.html?m=1. Accessed 27 Dec. 2016.
Babywearing International, Inc. “Winter Wearing – Be Aware of the Bulk.” Babywearing International, 2016, http://babywearinginternational.org/what-is-babywearing/resources-for-educators/winter-wearing-bulk/. Accessed 27 Dec. 2016.
Title image from:
Brentnall-Compton, Arie. “We Know Cold – And We Still Love to Babywear All Winter!” Canadian Babywearing School, February 2012, https://canadianbabywearingschool.wordpress.com/tag/babywearing-coat/. Accessed 27 Dec. 2016.