Monday, November 3, 2014

Baby it's Cold Outside! Cold Weather Wearing Tips and Tricks

MBE Rachel Dreyer shows us how it's done! 
There are some things here in the South that we do not always feel prepared for. Although it comes year after year we always seem surprised when the cold weather makes its first appearance. Then, suddenly it happens, one bout of cold and the next thing you know you have found yourself pulling out the coats from the closet and then MITTENS and HATS! The snow shows up and we are left each year going, "Whoa, what was that?!" just as soon as it melts and leaves us again.

During this season, that seems to get a little chillier each time, we are stuck scratching our heads as parents with just what do we do with the children to keep them warm, cozy, and safe. As babywearers we are left with even more questions! How many layers should we plan for? Can we use that carrier over coats? How do I keep my tails out of the snow? Now what?!

The great news is you can still babywear and keep your baby (and toddlers) close and toasty.

Your first step will be to decide if you want to layer up baby and yourself first or after putting baby in a carrier.

I tend to prefer to keep smaller babies tucked up with me in the carrier and then add layers to keep us both warm and with bigger babies, especially ones that will want up and down, you might want to layer them and you up before using the carrier.

VBE Sara Stephenson demonstrates layering on top of a worn newborn
VBE Aisling Schenck shows a back carry in a woven wrap using layering under the wrap to keep her and baby warm. 
One important thing to always remember is basic babywearing safety. You always want to be able to see your baby's face so watch that your layering does not get TOO thick. In general a worn baby is going to stay a little more toasty when they are near the wearers body. So, if you are layering OVER baby and the carrier then you will want to keep the layers of clothing on baby a little lighter. Body heat will transmit through normal clothing, with a smaller baby you can dress both yourself and baby in casual cold weather clothing (maybe an undershirt and heavier shirt for example) and then put the baby in the carrier next to your body. From there you have many options for layering over top of the both of you.

My preferred and cheapest method ;-) has been to use an over sized coat that is able to fit over both bodies. 
VBE Shannon Brethauer shows us how to tuck
baby into your coat 

From there you can add layers to anything sticking out. Hats on heads, scarves on necks, gloves on hands or anything else that seems necessary for the weather you will be facing. Hats are important with smaller babies to keep their body heat regulated.
Usually you will find that you both stay quite a bit warmer snuggled together than you would expect so be sure to pay attention to your under laying and take off a layer if needed! 

VBE Charlotte Anderholt shows us the KinderCoat
There are also many different options that you can find that can be purchased for this same purpose. Many different companies make a lot of choices designed to be worn over a baby in a carrier.

VBE Jenny Krout shows us a
Kowalli Baby Carrier Cover 
Other popular options are Peekaru vests and coats which can be worn over you and baby, fleece babywearing ponchos, and inserts that can be buttoned or zipped into the wearers coat to expand the fabric to make room for baby. 
VBE Sarah Kemper shows the PeekaRu Fleece Vest

A fantastic list of possible Babywearing Coats and Carrier Covers can be found here:
on the Babywearing International of Chicago's blog. They know Babywearing in cold weather!

So from here, lets work with the carriers you have to how to make them function the best in cold weather!


Your two main areas of concern are too much fabric under your shoulder and under baby's seat. If you are layering before you put baby in the sling then be careful that you do not have too much layering  or slippery materials under.
A big puffy coat on the wearer might make it hard to keep the shoulder placed and it might slide around and be uncomfortable or cause  possible fall hazards.
You'll also want to make sure that the baby does not have too thick of a body suit, or slippery pants like snow pants so the material of the sling stays tucked nicely under their bottom.
You can use a babywearing cover over your sling which is usually the easiest option with a ring sling. Try to avoid layering over with an actual coat because the shoulder will pull up on your neck when the sleeves of the coat are put on. Choose a poncho or a cover like the Kowalli.


SSC's are probably the easiest option overall in cold weather wearing. They are easy to put on both over or under winter clothing layering. Your biggest concern is finding the right adjustments and fit depending on how you are wearing. If you are wearing over your coat and over baby's coat you'll want to make sure that the straps and buckles are loosened to accommodate the extra cushioning. However, with baby it can be harder to pop them down into the seat of the carrier and make sure they are snug in the back carries as easily if they are wearing winter coats. Be sure to have someone check to make sure everyone is snug in proper positions with the carrier high on baby's back or check a mirror very well if you do not have a second person around. Many people like to use Soft Structured Carriers in the colder weather, especially snowy weather because when you are getting a baby in and out of car or going multiple places you can buckle the carrier on and never have to worry about tails of wraps or straps of Mei Tai's touching the ground and getting yucky in parking lot slush.

Myself, ABE Mary Rodio using my Tula
with my toddler and pregnant belly in the 30 Degree
Weather here November 1st. 

Beautiful photo of Mei Tai use on a snowy walk from VBE Jessica Stampe 


These are quite functional in the colder weather. The Mei Tai tends to adapt to clothing underneath a tad bit better than the SSC's making it a little easier to use over a bigger coat, however, with a smaller baby you'll want to be sure that the coat is not causing baby to slip around in any way and there is plenty of support around the sides of the carrier as needed.
Mei Tai's can be worn over a wearer's winter coat or under fairly easily as well so you have a lot of options in wearing with a mei tai. If you are using the carrier to get baby out of a car seat you can tuck the straps of the mei tai into your clothing as you go so you do not drag them on the ground.
One way to do this would be to tuck into belt loops or pants pockets, or to into the waist band of your pants (I've even used the straps of my bras if I was wearing a sweater dress)


Woven wraps are a bit more complicated in winter weather than options but still a wonderful option. The biggest concern is usually on what to do with the tails of the wrap in ice or snowy weather. There's a few ways you can counter that from using shorties or much smaller wraps that will not have as much tail to work with, or like mentioned above with Mei Tai's, tucking the tails of the wrap into your clothing as you work with the wrap. When I get the baby out of the car in a parking lot, I've gotten pretty good at tossing my tails into the seat of the car or wrapping over the trunk of my car and then laying the tails of the wrap in my trunk as I wrap as well.
VBE Hannah Kurlick of BWI of Memphis
Showing us how to enjoy that TN snow in a
Woven Wrap

This video is a great demonstration of tucking your tails as you wrap:

 Once again, just make sure that everything is snug and tight. It can be a little harder to feel what you are doing under or over winter clothing. Make sure if there is a snow suit type material in use or another slippery material that the baby is secure and no material is able to be moved out of place with normal shifting. Be sure that the back of the child is well supported because a cushy jacket could slump down as well and put baby in a chin to chest position.

Some Final Tips: 

Never underestimate the power of those silly foot bands on baby pants! Those things are amazing for keeping the pant leg tucked down over babies' legs so they are not pulled up and skin exposed to the weather.

Baby legs and leg warmers are another great addition to any baby winter wardrobe. Even if you put them on over another pair of pants, they will typically be long enough to be pulled down and cover any exposed skin that pulls up from baby being in a carrier.
Wool Wraps are an amazing tool to pull out in the cold weather!

You can tuck a blanket around baby when the weather is mildly uncomfortable for baby.
ABE, Mary Rodio using blanket to protect newborn Zoey-Anna
from cold rainy weather on Labor Day

Want to know how to layer for cold weather? This is a great guide! Remember if baby is going to be against your body, take one layer away.

Be aware of your surroundings, skills and activities. Can you wrap baby under your ski suit? Probably. But SHOULD you ski with baby... no probably not. ;-)
If you are not an experienced back wearer than cold weather where you cannot monitor baby might not be the best time to try it out. Or to try to master a back carry with extra layers and gear involved.
Also, watch your footing! Snow and cold weather can mean ice. Be extra careful about where and how you are stepping rather you are wearing or carrying baby. Be aware that baby will work against your center of gravity so stick with the types of carries that you are using to doing rather that's front or rear carries.

Use your best judgement for how long a little one should be outside in colder weather, but do not let the cold weather keep you hiding indoors the entire winter! There's a lot of fun to be had and we still need at least some Vitamin D and sunshine even in the colder months.

Christie Chapman and her family in "Normal Gear" and a wool
wrap out enjoying the family despite the cold. 
Stephanie Long from BWI Oklahoma City
posing for some lovely family
photos in the gorgeous snow!