Both of my babies are summer babies and carrying them safely during the hot UK summer was a top priority for me. Over the years I have found these top tips have been the most beneficial and now I am sharing them with you.
1. Seek Shade
The simplest way to stay cooler during the summer, is to avoid the sun!
Stay inside during the hottest hours of the day (11-3pm) and maybe even enjoy a siesta with your baby.
Keep your windows shut and your curtains closed to keep it cooler inside. Older kids will enjoy water play or freeze some of their favourite toys and have fun trying to melt them out.
If you have to go out, then try and stay in the shade wherever possible. Buildings, trees, gazebos and so on are all great, you can also use an umbrella as a parasol to keep shade with you wherever you go. Pop up tents are also really useful, especially for picnics and days out. They give you a shaded place for play, nappy changes, feeding and even naps!
2. Protect Skin
Thin and loose clothing is the comfiest during the heat, for you and baby. Brimmed hats are great for protecting their heads, and you can get ones with chin straps to make them harder for babies to pull off! Favour soft cotton hats over straw hats for littles so that they stay on when they fall asleep on you.
NHS advice is to keep your baby out of direct sunlight if they are under 6 months. They do not say what age you can use suncream from. Common advice on the internet is no suncream before 6 months, with chemicals being given as the main reason. However many brands make creams that are safe for babies. If you choose to use suncream before 6 months then please ensure it is factor 50, UVA/UVB protective and designed for babies or sensitive skin. Do not put any suncream on their face or their hands. This is so that it doesn't go into their mouths.
3. Stay Hydrated
During warmer weather our bodies have to work harder to cool us down, and our children's bodies do the same. To keep us cool our bodies release sweat and as it evaporates off our skin, our skin is cooled. However this means we're losing water and we can become dehydrated unless we take in more fluids.
I'm sure you'll have noticed feeling much thirstier in hot weather, and drinking more water than you usually would. Well our babies and children are the same. If you're breast/chest feeding and/or expressing then your milk will naturally have more water in it to keep your baby hydrated. This will mean that your baby needs to feed more often, it doesn't mean your milk isn't "good enough" anymore. It's exactly the same as you needing more water during hot weather. If you're bottle feeding then offer your baby more feeds during the day. DO NOT water down your formula, it takes away the nutrients your baby needs and may lead to water intoxication.
4. Don't Drape your Buggy
If you are using your pram then it can be tempting to drape your buggy with fabric to keep the sun off your baby's skin, however studies have proven that the temperature inside can raise between 5-10 degrees hotter than outside. This increased heat can lead to a greater risk of SIDS. You can buy special, breathable shades to go over your buggy, as well as clip on parasols to really keep the air circulating whilst shielding your baby from the sun.
Please check on your baby frequently whilst they are in their pram to ensure they are not too hot. Their body is still learning how to regulate their temperature and it can struggle form time to time. If they're in skin to skin contact with you, then their skin mimics yours and regulates their temperature much more effectively.
5. Try a New Carrying Position
Tummy to tummy carrying is the warmest way to carry your baby and is amazing during winter. However in the warmer weather, why not try a hip carry or a back carry? The decrease in skin contact will help both of you feel cooler. Hip carries are safe from as early as 8 weeks and can be done safely and comfortably in a stretchy wrap, a woven wrap, a ring sling, and a meh dai. Buckle carriers are recommended from 4 months for hip carries and all CROSS STRAP buckle carriers can do them easily. You can book an in person or online consult to learn how to do it, or why not pop down to the Toybox Cafe on a Thursday morning where Stella can help you for free.
Back carries are safe from birth in a stretchy or woven wrap and as early as 8 weeks in a meh dai! If you are back carrying before 6 months then we strongly recommend a consultation with a trained and insured carrying consultant as there are many safety implications. Buckle carriers and ring slings are safe from 6 months to use as a back carry and there are many techniques you can learn to get your baby on your back by yourself. We offer consultations and a monthly workshop for buckle back carrying.
6. Find a Cooler Carrier
Lots of slings and carriers have cooler options available for summer wearing, or if you're travelling for a hot holiday you can even hire one for your trip!
Stretchy wraps, woven wraps, ring slings and meh dai are all affected by their fibres. Look for blends with linen and bamboo as these are naturally cooler than cotton. Buckle carriers either come in special UVA/B protective fabric OR they have air mesh panels replacing fabric, allowing lovely airflow for your child. You can read my blog post about summer alternatives here. If you're going away and don't want to fork out for a whole new carrier, did you know there are nearly 400 sling libraries across the UK where you can hire slings and carriers from, including us! We have over 100 slings and carriers available for hire, check out our hot weather options and hire something for your holiday. We can post to anywhere in the UK for only £5.