Can I still use my carrier when it’s hot outside? How can I keep me and my baby cool while babywearing? Are there specific slings that are better in warm weather? These are the kinds of things we get asked at this time of year – and the answer is yes! Of course you can babywear in summer! Let’s have a look at some of the ways we can make babywearing more comfortable and help you to keep cool and stay safe through the summer months.

In the UK, we expect poor weather all year round. Grey, cloudy skies are pretty much the norm for us. So, when the temperature hits 20°C, we think we’re on holiday! It can be a bit daunting, feeling like we’re not properly equipped to deal with the heat, or worrying that you should be keeping your baby inside and in the shade. But babywearing in summer can be really lovely, even if it’s just a stroll around the block or a trip to the local park. Here’s a few things to think about before you head out:

1. Keep baby’s skin covered as much as possible.

That super soft baby skin is really quite delicate. The pigment in your skin that provides protection from the sun is called melanin. Babies have low levels of melanin and so they can burn easily. The best thing to do is keep their skin covered.

Choose loose cotton clothing for them, that covers their arms and legs if possible. Thin romper suits with a loose long-sleeved vest under can be great for this. And make sure they’re wearing a hat to cover their ears and the nape of their neck. From experience, hats that tie under the chin are good – so baby can’t pull them off, or they don’t fall off and get lost.

2. Apply sunscreen.

For the bits that you can’t keep covered, such as your baby’s face, hands, feet etc., apply sunscreen. Have a look for one that’s designed for babies and children – they’re less likely to irritate the skin. You want a sunscreen that has at least SPF 30 (many kids ones are SPF 50 anyway) and that protects against UVA and UVB rays. You want to apply it a little bit before you go outside too – to give it chance to settle and provide the maximum level of protection.

Don’t forget to put sunscreen on yourself too! Sometimes, as parents, we’re too preoccupied with our baby’s wellbeing that we forget about our own! Your skin might also have changed a little during pregnancy and post-birth – so you could be more susceptible to burning than you think!

3. Stay hydrated!

Drinking plenty of water is probably the most important part of staying safe in the sun. This goes for you and your little one.

Babies under 6 months may want to feed little and often. This goes for both breastfed and formula fed babies – but don’t be tempted to water down the formula, this has been designed to be prepared according to the directions on the packaging. Formula fed babies can have sips of cooled, boiled water. But breastfed babies should be fine with just their milk. Your breast milk will adapt and become more watery to prevent your baby becoming dehydrated – but this will mean that you’re more thirsty!

Babies (over 6 months old) who have started solid foods are fine to have regular tap water or bottled water. They should be having regular sips of water throughout the day.

4. Listen to your body (and your baby).

When you’re out and about in the heat, just make sure you pay attention to how you’re feeling. Carrying a baby on your front or back is quite a strain on your body. Their body heat is adding to your body heat and it’s very easy to get a bit sweaty.

Keep an eye on your baby for signs of overheating; sweating, redness or just being a bit cranky. Taking a short break in the shade will probably help you and your baby to feel better. Slow everything down, take breaks, and adjust your layers if you need to.

You might also want to shuffle your schedule around a bit so that you can enjoy your summer babywearing in the early morning or in the evening. The hottest part of the day is usually 11am-3pm so avoiding these times can be a good idea!

5. Choose the right sling for summer.

Your sling or carrier counts as an extra layer of clothing for your baby. But some will keep them (and you!) cooler than others in summer. Fabrics that have natural wicking and fewer layers, such as a ring sling or a woven wrap, work really well in a warm weather. There are also some lightweight versions of popular carriers that have mesh sections to allow airflow.

You might not be too keen on the idea of buying a new sling just for a few days of hot weather or a week’s holiday in the sun. At Parent Sanctuary we have a range of slings and carriers that are available to hire. We can help you to get the right fit and teach you how to get your baby in safely and comfortably. We have a special range of holiday carriers that can be hired for just £10 for four weeks, including woven wraps, ring slings and mesh ones like the Boba Air. Some are even suitable for using in the swimming pool, such as the MaM water ring sling.

If you’re wanting to try some of our summer slings, come down to one of our sling meets or book a private sessions with babywearing expert Rachel Devereux. We’re also happy to chat all things slings on our weekly walks – and if you are planning a holiday in the sun, we can share our experiences of babywearing and travelling with small children! Have a look at our upcoming sessions and book your place.