Saturday, June 9, 2012

2012 Guide to Summer Babywearing

Check out our updated 2014 Guide to Sumemr Baby Carriers

Summer heat is upon us and many people are finding that babywearing in the heat is HOT!  Unfortunately, having a little body touch you when it's 90 degrees out is going to feel hot, no matter what.  But luckily, there are some carries that are cooler than others and will help keep you and your baby a little more comfortable while babywearing this summer.

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, soft structured carrier (aka buckle carrier), or even a lighter wrap. 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.
By nature, ring slings will be cooler just because of the lack of fabric, but there are lots of ring slings that are made using fabrics that are cooler and more breathable than others.  The super thin Hoppediz Pune wraps we had converted by Kalea Baby make an AMAZINGLY light wrap conversion sling that is thin, lightweight, super soft, but still really supportive.  We also had SweetPea Ring Slings convert some Wrapsody Bali Breeze wraps for us.  These lightweight gauze wraps are still breathable even as a double layer ring sling.  Linen is also a fabric that many people like for summer and you can find them available by Sakura Bloom, SweetPea Ring Slings, and Kalea Baby, as well as other brands.  If you can find one, Solarveil is really lightweight and airy, although please be aware that it does not offer any UV protection like once believed (read more here).  We do carry a Kalea Baby sling made out of Solarweave, which offers a UPF rating of 50+.  This fabric is really lightweight and thin and dries fast, which is why it is listed as a water carrier.

Realistically though, most ring slings are going to be fairly cool simply due to the open design, so unless you are planning to spend a large amount of time outside or live in a particularly hot area, you might was well just pick the ring sling you like most and will enjoy using year round!

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.

If you are looking for a woven, both the Pune and Light by Hoppediz are great wraps for summer.  They are thin, light weight, and breathable, the Light feels more like a high quality thick cotton sheet while the Jacquard Pune feels more like a traditional woven, only super thin and floppy, but surprisingly supportive.  The Amazonas Classic wraps are lighter than many wovens, though they are not well known in the US and are harder to find here. 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 and helps wick moisture away. 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 and are fairly heavy, but they do have some that offer extra UV protection if that is a concern for you.

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. AngelPack, Olives & Applesauce and Two Mommas Designs are some of my favorite carriers, but there really are too many to list!

Nuzzle Me Creations has designed the NMC Stay Cool Carrier which is designed specifically for summer, but these can be very hard to find.  You can also find carriers made out of Solarweave, which is really thin and light and has a UPF 50+ rating, or occasionally find a used carrier made out of Solarveil, which is light and airy, but does not offer any UV protection (see more about Solarveil here).

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. Our Kalea Baby water slings are made with Solarweave, which is super light, dries fast, and has a UPF 50+ rating.  SweetPea Ring Slings and TaylorMade make mesh ring slings. Solarveil Mei Tais and ring slings are harder to find, but they are out there, especially if you look for people selling used carriers (see more about Solarveil here).

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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