Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2011 Guide to Summer Baby Carriers

It's time to start thinking about summer babywearing and finding the right summer carrier for you and your little ones.  Summer is hot and wearing a little one in summer is going to be hot too.  But fortunately, there are some options to help keep you and your baby a little more comfortable while babywearing in the heat.

First you need to think about what your needs are.  If you have a little baby or a toddler that you only wear for short periods of time, a ring sling might be the best option.  If you plan to do a lot of babywearing this summer, than you are going to want the comfort of a two shoulder carrier like a mei tai or soft structured carrier (aka buckle carrier).  Here's a run down on the different styles and some of the brands that might work well for you.

Ring Slings
Ring slings are great for summer.  They don't have as much fabric touching you and your baby as some carriers and they are great for quick carries when a busy toddler wants to be held for a few minutes and then wants down again.  But ring slings are a one shoulder carrier and unless you are used to it, prolonged wearing with a ring sling can get uncomfortable since your child's weight will mostly be on one shoulder.

Ring slings like Maya Wraps and our Hoppediz ring sling conversions by Kalea Baby are made with a single layer of woven material that is very breathable. Silk is also a very cool fabric to use in summer, which makes our double layer Dupioni silk slings by SweetPea Ring Slings another good option for summer. You can also find ring slings made from linen or solarveil fabric that are perfect for summer. But realistically, most ring slings are going to be fairly cool simply due to the lack of fabric.

For the wrappers out there, you don't have to stop wrapping just because it's summer.  There are a lot of great wraps out there that are lighter and better in the heat.  Wraps can be a great option for summer since there are so many different ways to use them.  You can find lots of different ways to wrap using The Babywearer's extensive wrap instructions links page or by purchasing wrap instruction media like the Wrapsody DVD or Hoppediz instruction booklet.

So if you are looking for a woven, Hoppediz makes a Hopp Light that is very nice for summer. It is extremely thin and soft and reminds people of a very expensive cotton sheet. Amazonas Classic wraps are also woven wraps that are very light and breathable. The weave on these still feels like a woven without being thick and hot. Vatanai and Didymos linens are other brands of lighter woven wraps that people recommend for warmer weather.

Gauze wraps, like the Wrapsody Bali Breeze, are very light and airy. You have to be more careful when wrapping a gauze wrap to avoid pressure points, but these wraps are very cool and lighter than a woven.

Wrapsody also makes a stretch wrap that is kind of a hybrid wrap.  It's not as stretchy as a standard stretch wrap and can be used comfortably with older, heavier babies.  The wraps are thinner than other stretch wraps, making them much lighter and cooler.  You can also safely use this wrap to do other carries that are not safe to do in a traditional stretch wrap.

If you just absolutely love stretch wraps though, or have a tiny baby you want to snuggle this summer, check out one made with a bamboo blend since bamboo tends to be a cooler fabric.  The Anaju stretch wraps by 3TD are made of 70% organically grown viscose of bamboo and 30% organic cotton. These wraps are amazingly soft and light. Lovey Duds also makes a bamboo stretch wrap and you can even make your own by purchasing a bamboo jersey at the fabric store.  Moby wraps aren't bamboo, but they do have some that offers extra UV protection.

Mei Tais and Soft Structured Carriers
Mei Tais and soft structured carriers (buckle carriers) can be another good option for summer babywearing.  If you wear your little one a lot and for long periods of time, you will want the support of a two shoulder carrier like these.

When looking for a Mei Tai or soft structured carrier, try to avoid anything made with heavy materials or lots of layers. Thinner, narrower bodied carriers are going to allow more air around you and baby and help keep you both cooler. Action Baby Carrier, AngelPack, Olives & Applesauce and Baby Hawk are some of my favorite carriers, but there really are too many to list! You can also look for Mei Tais made from solarveil fabric, which are breathable and can be used as water carriers, but can be very hard to find since solarveil is no longer being manufactured.

Water Carriers
A water carrier can be a really useful thing to own, especially in summer. These can be worn in the ocean or pool, as well as the shower. Many also provide some sun protection, but protection can vary. Water carriers can be found in a variety of styles, including stretch wraps, ring slings, and Mei Tais. Wrapsody makes a stretch wrap water carrier with a UPF rating for 45. TaylorMade makes mesh ring slings. Solarveil Mei Tais are harder to find, but they are out there, especially if you look for people selling used carriers.

Final thought
Summer is hot and having your baby touch you is never going to be cool.  That being said, a little sweat never hurt anyone and it's worth the added convenience and snuggles you get in exchange!  So find a carrier that makes you more comfortable and enjoy your summer!

Have a tip you'd like to share?  Contact us, we'd love to hear it!

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