pátek 24. ledna 2014

Babywearing in winter

You can enjoy wearing your baby in winter, too. You just have to know how...

General Principles:

Don’t forget that everyone needs a different level of protection from the cold. Some of us are hot-natured, others are always shivering…
•   When choosing clothing, take into account the child’s age and size as well as the type of hold you will be using
•   Plan in advance whether or not you will need to take the child out of the wrap while outside...
When it’s cold outside
As temperatures drop every year, I always find myself asking a thousand questions along the lines of: how to dress the baby in the wrap, how to dress myself, how to manage both at once…The possibilities are endless, but I will try to offer a few comments and bits of advice to make babywearing in winter easier. I hope you will find them useful. Each of us is different, with different needs for warmth, different standards and taste. So you won’t find the one single answer here, just some inspiration based on “how we do things”. :)

Temperatures around 10 °C:
Most people start breaking out the winter clothing when the temperature gets below 15 °C
How to dress your child:
Julinka usually wears pants, knee socks so her ankles stay warm, a long-sleeved shirt and thin cotton sweatshirt, and autumn shoes. I carry her in a double hammock. When she was a baby she just needed a Merino onesie and wool leggings or longies. She wore socks on her feet while she was in the cradle hold, or Valenki boots almost up to her knees in a vertical hold. I would recommend an Outlast or single-layer Merino wool hood. If you want to be sure your baby stays warm, choose functional materials, ideally Merino wool, which helps with thermoregulation, keeps the child from overheating, and allows the skin to breathe. This totally natural material is suitable even for the smallest babies due to how it is prepared. When dressing your child, don’t forget they have one to three more layers from the wrap itself. Pay special attention to the feet, head and neck.
How to dress yourself:
I find I just need a long-sleeved cotton shirt and cotton shrug (like a Bolero jacket that doesn’t fasten), covering my arms, shoulders and part of my back. I highly recommend this item of clothing, because it keeps the cold out of the opening where the baby’s head is… If you tend to get really cold, use a warmer material than cotton. I would recommend Merino wool, but Moira or anything that retains heat is also fine… Babywearing actually keeps you pretty warm in and of itself. If you are going to be moving around, rather than standing around on the playground watching an older child, then be sure not to dress too warmly, or else you’ll be peeling off layers within the first ten minutes. If you use a front hold, protect your neck and chest with a neck warmer or scarf, or else wear a turtleneck.
For both:
Our favorite option is a lined sweatshirt with rib trim. It looks elegant and has excellent heat retention. You can also wear a fleece sweater or softshell jacket, but in that case I would add a thin sweater as well. This strikes me as a better idea than layering a thick sweatshirt and jacket at the same time at this temperature. If you don’t have a jacket, then I recommend a non-slip sweatshirt or jacket for yourself and your baby and be sure to keep the baby’s feet very warm, for instance with leg warmers… At this temperature you could keep your jacket unzipped or even fit both of you under a maternity sweater. Assuming you have your
baby in front, that is…


Temperatures around freezing

Winter is here and temperatures are hovering around freezing. At the moment the cold is creeping into your unzipped jacket and wrapping “coat-on-coat” is not so comfortable any more…
How to dress your child:
If you have special babywearing clothing, you don’t need any extra layers. All you need is a long-sleeved shirt, pants and maybe a thin cotton sweater. I would repeat my recommendation of functional material, if possible Merino wool. I recommend an Outlast or Merino wool hood. If you use a vertical hold, don’t forget to keep your baby’s legs warm enough: tights or leg warmers, winter boots or lined booties for the feet.
How to dress yourself:

At this point I layer a cotton shirt and a thin part-wool turtleneck. This combination gets me through the whole winter and I only add a warmer layer if I know I will be standing around for an hour on a freezing hillside wearing my sleeping second-born while watching my first-born go sledding. In which case I would probably switch the thin turtleneck for a thick one. :) If you don’t like wearing turtlenecks, I recommend wearing neck warmers to protect your neck from the cold. You can choose for yourself – if you go for a fleece neck warmer the color of your sweatshirt, or else Merino wool or knit. Whatever you choose, it is more comfortable than winding a scarf around and around your neck, although you can do that of course if you prefer. I recommend putting something on your neck even for a back carry, since cold down the back of your neck can make babywearing pretty uncomfortable...
For both:
If you wear layers underneath the wrap, you’ll just need a lined sweatshirt or softshell jacket. It is more comfortable, of course, to put the wrap over a long-sleeved shirt and pull a combination fleece sweater or vest and softshell jacket over the both of you. If you prefer vests to sweatshirts, like me, then carry wrist warmers with you for just in case, so that if it gets cold you can easily pull them on without having to unwrap your baby. 

Temperatures below freezing

Now it’s really cold
How to dress your child:
Again, it depends on what kind of babywearing clothing you have. If you don’t have any, then dress your child the same as yourself, maybe with an extra layer, since unlike you, your child is not keeping warm by moving. Put your little one in a non-slip snowsuit, cover the feet and head, and put gloves on the hands. If you do have babywearing clothing, you are better off, but again it depends on what kind. In general your child should have at most the same number of layers under the shared top layer as you have, though you can put an extra layer on the legs if necessary. I recommend using a two-layer Merino hood or combining a thin hood and a hat. A baby in a cradle hold will definitely be fine with a thin hood or stretchy hat.
How to dress yourself:
Putting the wrap on over your shirt or a thin sweater is ideal here as well. If you only have a softshell jacket, wear a thick sweater, preferably part-wool, a neck warmer and a hat :-)
For both:
The warmest and simplest option is a winter coat lined with thermo fleece, which will keep you as cozy as if you were in a sleeping bag and stretches almost down to your knees. Those who tend to be hot will prefer a fleece plus a softshell. Again, if you anticipate that you will not be moving around much outside, make sure to add layers underneath. If you wrap on top of your jacket, choose a non-slip material for you as well as your baby. A soft carrier is better than a wrap in this case, but if you want to use the wrap you’ll need a lot of patience and be careful going in out of the cold, since there is no way to undress… It is also important to consider that if you go out in the same clothing without wearing your baby, you will probably be cold. So if you know that you will be leaving your “portable heater” somewhere for a while, whether with grandma or daddy while you go back out on the frozen streets, don’t forget to put an extra sweater in your bag…

Your little one doesn’t want to keep their hands under the jacket? That’s ok! The easiest solution is definitely putting your child’s hands inside the wrap, under your jacket. But if your child doesn’t like that, it’s not a problem. To keep your little one from overheating under the jacket and wrap but still keep the hands warm waving around in the cold air, you can use a special stripped-down jacket called a “vykuchánek”, a lined sweatshirt with rib trim or at least a Bolero covering the arms, shoulders and part of the back… Have them wear gloves in winter, if possible. 

... and if you are pregnant, there i nothing easier than use the maternity insert...

We hope you stay warm and comfortable while babywearing this winter...