News flash: If you babywear in the summer, you are going to be hot. No, seriously. Everyone always asks “what’s the best wrap or carrier for hot summers? Humid summers? What will keep baby and I cool? What about solarveil/hemp/linen/mesh/cotton?” Let me break it down, ladies/parents/alternative caregivers. You are strapping a human being to your body in 80+ degree weather. You will be hot, you will sweat, and no carrier of magically spun unicorn pelt and elf hair will save you. Your bare skin is going to stick to baby’s bare skin. Your shirt will stick to your back. You’ll get all dewy or perspire-y or just sweat like an Alabama swamp mule. This is inevitable. So any talk of hot weather wearing is (har har) a matter of degrees. You’ll be hot. But how hot? First, do an honest assessment of how much time you’ll spend in the heat. There are a few factors to keep in mind.
- Do you have a newborn? If so, are you seriously planning to take that teeny new bean out during a heat wave? Think hard through the preggie/postpartum brain fog. Most of you are going to answer no. But some of you have extenuating circumstances/older children/a tolerance for heat unknown to the rest of us. Stay hydrated, keep to the shade, and go with God.
- Do you have older children? If so, you are going to be outside a ton, even if it’s like the surface of the sun, because when sanity battles heat, sanity wins.
- Do you have air conditioning? Here in the South, every shack has central air, because our pansy asses would melt like snowmen in July without a thermostat set to 65. Up North, houses without air can top 85 degrees in the summer. I was far hotter in PA when it was 90 outside than home when it was 110. Seriously, my coconut oil melted and my hair frizzed out and I took three baths a day just to maintain homeostasis. Pure hell.
- How often do you spend time outside? One beach trip doesn’t count. Are you going to be outside, day in and day out – regularly, like hours a week – in the broiling heat? Or do you hide inside? You’re not going to develop a sudden hiking habit or something. Do you have chickens to feed and weeds to pull in your hippie paradise? But don’t base your entire wearing experience around one single beach trip.
- Is your baby a furnace? I wore Squeaky in a thick wool wrap in the summer while pregnant. Sunny baby, on the other hand, is always hot.
- Are you a furnace? Until I got pregnant, I was that annoying chick who was always asking for a sweater. Now I wear a tank top if it’s 55 degrees. Hormones, baby. Hormones.
- And be brutally honest: most of us only escape our climate-controlled bubble our the arduous trek through the Target parking lot. Admit it. You can buy some thick wool and stop reading now.
For all the rest of you: you need some kind of hot weather solution if you’re spending hours outside. Let’s break down your options.
Pros: one body panel, straps, and buckles keep most fabric off you. Some come with mesh panels to cool you and/or baby. Older babies are also held loosely – especially on your back – so they aren’t pressed smack against you. Cons: The fabric that’s on you is often synthetic and thick. The waist strap gives every non-heroin-addict a lovely roll of pudge, which may look worse in your summer wardrobe. Infants usually need an insert (though some SSCs don’t require one), which is about the hottest thing you can use to babywear. Look for one with a mesh panel, or a “sport”. Straps made of cotton will be more comfortable than a synthetic. If I was planning on hiking with an older child during a heat wave, this would by my choice.
Pros: You can find them made of lighter-weight fabric, including linen or lighter cotton. One body panel and straps means you aren’t swathed in fabric. Cons: Wraps straps mean you are. Make sure it isn’t super thick, and tying Tibetan is probably going to be uncomfortably hot, though it can serve as a bikini top in a pinch. A mei tai made of cooler synthetic fabric (or thinner cotton or linen) may be a great option, especially for a baby too small to fit an SSC well. Avoid wrap conversions that are super thick.
Pros: one layer. Can get one made of mesh, solarveil, or lightweight fabric. Cons: metal rings will burn you and baby if you leave it in the sun or a hot car. That tail will stick to you, too. But it makes a nice nursing cover when you pull your boob out of your bikini. A ring sling is a great option for a squish who has to be held close, since it only goes over one shoulder. Jan Andrea at Sleeping Baby makes ring slings especially for summer in linen and french twill. Avoid anything silk, multi-layered (including doubled gauze), wool, or heavy-weight wrap conversions.
Pros: One layer, generally lighweight. Those free Seven Slings are crap until it’s a million degrees outside. Cons: Diggy, and it has to be the right size. Generally, it has all the drawbacks of a pouch. If it’s the right size for you and baby, and you need a carrier you can drag through the sand, cover in sunscreen, and throw in the wash, this is a great option. It’s cheap, and you can totally borrow one from your local BWI lending library, because they have 80,000 of them in every conceivable size.
Just use a stroller. Ditto for the k’tan. Okay, not really. Mamas have complained this is too snarky. I get it. But I truly believe that in temperatures over 85 degrees, the thick fabric of a decent stretchy (Moby, Boba) becomes a health hazard for you and baby. You’re free to disagree, but I’ve had too many mamas tell me they gave up wearing because their stretchy was too hot – in the middle of the summer.
Pros: A one-layer carry in a lightweight woven is about as good as it gets. Cons: Fabric, fabric, fabric. Lots of it. Are you a dedicated, die-hard wrapper? You best branch out to smaller sizes – preferably a size 2, for a rebozo or ruck tied under bum, but at least a 4, so you can do a ruck tied tibetan and a kangaroo (these assume a base size of 6). A multi-layer carry kills in the heat. Yes, you can bunch the passes in your FWCC, but even though those passes aren’t covering baby, they are covering you. Look for cotton, linen, or hemp. Avoid silk, bamboo, wool, fox, camel, angora or hippogriff; stay away from adjectives like “blankety”, “beastly”, or “natibaby”. You’re going to sweat, and hopefully wear sunscreen (if you think it’ll kill you, that’s cool, but my kids and I half vampire so we’ll take possible genetic mutation over certain melanoma). So don’t wear that wrap you paid $3,000,000 for on the swap and are hoping to sell for $3,000,000 more plus shipping. But remember that thick isn’t really necessarily bad. You may want the extra weight to support your sandy, exhausted toddler-beast – the cush may be worth the extra heat. But make sure you’re doing a ruck in that case, okay? You don’t want heatstroke. IF IT WERE ME, and I was wearing in serious heat, I’d use a rebozo for a squish, a mid-length wrap for a leg-straightening squish or infant, and a size 2 for a ruck with any other age. If I were hiking Death Valley, I’d use an SSC. Because there are a million options for wrapping in the heat, stayed tuned for Part II of Hot Weather Wearing – Hot Weather Wrapping!