Now that the weather is getting warmer, we’re all itching to get outside and explore nature. There’s plenty of fun to be had in West Michigan during the summer, but one of our favorites while babywearing is hiking. Did you know that West Michigan has over fifty trail systems to explore? With babywearing, you can go farther and explore more than you could with a babe-in-arms or with a stroller.
Hiking can be done with any carrier type, but there are perks and drawbacks to each depending on your carrier preferences and the age of your child(ren). We’re going to outline some main points below, but feel free to attend one of our free educational meetings to learn more or get one-on-one help for your situation!
Soft structured carriers (Ergo, Tula, Lillebaby, etc.) are one of the most popular options for hiking. They’re good for front carries for little ones, or back carries for when your kiddos get older. They can be one of the fastest options that are also comfortable for longer excursions. Some even have pockets, airflow panels, or other features that may be helpful while hiking.
Frame packs (Kelty, Osprey, etc.) are another popular option, especially among hiking enthusiasts. They’re a good option for older children who can sit unassisted and who only want to be worn on the back. Many have storage for extra gear or for hydration pouches. The main drawback of frame packs is that they tend to be heavier and bulkier. You can learn more about frame packs at BWI of Portland’s blog here: http://bwipdx.weebly.com/blog/hard-frame-carrier-101 or here: http://bwipdx.weebly.com/blog/hard-frame-carrier-fit-comparison
Meh Dais (Babyhawk, CatBirdBaby, etc.) are a versatile option that can be used for smaller babies on the front or older babies on the back. The openings in the sides of the panel offer a good amount of airflow between you and baby, so it can be a great option when it’s warmer outside. The drawback of meh dais is that they have longer tails, but there are many ways you can tie to keep the tails out of the way and keep your shoulders comfortable, too!
Woven wraps (Girasol, Didymos, Lenny Lamb, etc.) are the most versatile option for hiking as babies can be worn on the front or back, plus many wearers find them to be the most comfortable on the shoulders. The drawback of wrapping is the time you have to put into it, plus the fabric can get warmer than other wearing options. Wearing with a shorter wrap is also an option, as you can get the benefit of the versatility of wrapping without having to worry about having too much fabric.
Ring slings (Sakura Bloom, Sleeping Baby, etc.) or pouch slings (Sevenslings, Hot Slings, etc.) can be used for hiking and are especially useful when you are going short distances or your baby likes to get up and down a lot. They don’t tend to be the most popular for when baby gets older or for longer excursions, as they are one-shoulder carries. Their man appeal is that they are fast to put on and fold up small, so they’re easy to take along when you’re not sure if your baby will want to be worn.
When it starts to get warmer, your preferences may change as well. If you want to learn more about wearing when it’s warm, check out our blog post on hot weather wearing here: http://bwiofgrandrapids.weebly.com/blog/hot-weather-wearing
It’s hot. Hot weather is hot. Strapping another human being to your body is going to be hotter! Still, hot weather shouldn't stop you from wearing your baby! While we can't provide you a temperature miracle, we have a few tips to help you and your baby stay as comfortable as possible this summer in any carrier type.
Soft Structured Carriers (SSCs)
The open sides of a SSC allow for lots of airflow, while the quick on-and-off can let you easily take a break when needed. There are some awesome SSCs that have breathable panels made of mesh, solarveil/solarweave, koolnit, etc. Bamberoo, Kinderpacks, Lillebaby, Ergo, Beco, and Pognae are some options with breathable panels.
Meh Dais (MDs)
Like a SSC, the open sides of a MD allow for lots of airflow. A MD hip carry may offer additional cooling.
Ring Slings (RSs)
The one-layer pass of a RS will help to keep the heat at bay. A linen or linen blend fabric can increase airflow as well. Another option are mesh ring slings. Typically, mesh is most recommended for use in the water, but on a warm day they can be great! Mesh slings are very thin and can be hard to wear long-term as the thin fabric can create additional pressure points. With a mesh sling, you need to take caution that the fabric is not too slippery and that your rings stay tightened and secure on the fabric. Some sling options are Comfy Joey, Sleeping Baby Productions, BabyEtte, Beachfront Baby, and TaylorMade.
Woven wraps made of gauze, linen, linen blends, and lightweight fabrics will be some of the best options. Gauze is very thin and while the fabric has great air flow, it will feel best with multiple passes over baby. Single-layer carries with one pass over baby will be the coolest option. Try carries like ruck variations, kangaroo carry, or a simple torso carry. With multi-layer carries like front wrap cross carry or back wrap cross carry, you can leave the passes bunched vs spreading them across the child’s back. Some great lightweight woven wraps can be found in brands such as Ellaroo, Wrapsody Breeze, and Vatanai.
Take care to monitor your child as you always do while babywearing, especially for overheating.
If age appropriate, back carriers can allow for more air circulation.
Dress in light clothing that will keep your baby's skin covered. There is nothing worse than hot, sticky skin-on-skin contact when in extreme heat! This will also help protect your baby's skin from the sun. For extra shade, you can also use a large umbrella, hats for caregiver and child, or one large-brimmed hat to cover everyone!
Use chilly pads like Frogg Toggs to quickly wipe your or your baby's face or neck. To use these towels, you wet them and ring out the extra water. The towels will remain cool to the touch for hours! When trying to cool down, use the Boo-Boo Packs, chilly pads, or a cool water bottle on pressure points.
Can you use a stroller in the heat? Of course! Strollers are always a great option, especially for older children. Always do what is best for your family and situation.
If you want to learn more about hot weather wearing or check out the cooler options we have in our lending library, consider attending a meeting!