Winter Babywearing in Chicago

(Note:  This post content is courtesy of our leader Katie, who originally wrote it up for BabyCenter/BBC early last month, and gave permission to post it here.  The photos are courtesy of our group.)

Kindercoat (Shell) in the fall

Kindercoat (Shell) in the fall

The weather is getting cold, and suddenly you are wondering how to keep baby warm. How many layers should you use? How do you get from car to carrier? What should baby wear? Where can you find a babywearing coat? What kind of cover should you get if you wrap? What bout back carries? What if you are short on cash? Not to fear – I have been there done that in wind chills double digits below zero with infants to preschoolers in my carriers (and in multiple carriers!).

The most important thing to remember is the same no matter what weather you wear in – keep baby’s airway clear. As always, chin up, a free path to fresh air, and no slumping. Second most important actually has to do with the cold weather. Be careful not to overheat or freeze baby. If possible, put baby in the carrier before either of you are wearing your outer layers, then layer over both of you. Apart from making it easier to identify baby’s body temperature, layering over both of you allows you to disrobe when you get inside without having to remove baby (yay errands!).

Dressing Baby

Be careful not to overheat baby as you venture into the great outdoors, but you don’t want to freeze them either. When the temperatures start to dip below 65F, start putting baby in an undershirt (or onesie) underneath their regular clothes. As it gets colder, add the necessary outer layers. If you are venturing out into the below freezing temps, and you have a coat on that is made for that temperature, no other layers aside from the added undershirt should be needed. If your coat or cover runs to the thinner side, you may find that baby needs an additional sweater or jacket on. Remember, the cover or coat is acting like baby’s jacket. Depending on the one you get, this may be a thin or thick layer. Toddlers and older babies that prefer to ride arms out in the carrier will need their own winter coats and gloves on to keep warm. Always use a hat outside, as most heat escapes through the head.

Toddler with her own coat on

Toddler with her own coat on

Knee high socks (like Rock a Thigh Baby), and baby leg warmers (like Babylegs) are the perfect addition to your little one’s winter wardrobe. Pants have a tendency to ride up in the carrier, and the cool air that sneaks in will be sure to bite at any exposed skin. Leggings a size too large cover baby’s legs really well too.

Products

So, what can you use to keep warm? Specially made babywearing covers, coats, and vests are great for this. Many carrier companies make weather covers: ErgoBABY, Catbird Baby, and Bjorn are just a few that do this. It also tends to be less expensive to buy a universal cover. Covers are usually for front carries only. Many of them tie or snap onto the straps of carriers, so they may not be suitable for wraps, or wrap-strap carries. Some, like Jolly Jumper go around the wearer’s neck and work great over wraps. Covers are an option that works well if you are in and out of the car (side note: no coats or covers under baby’s harness straps in the car seat), because you can move the cover to go over baby in the car, stroller, or carrier. These usually fit to about 2yo (especially in ergonomic carriers). Here are some covers available:

Jolly Jumper: http://www.jollyjumper.com/show/84
Monkey Pocket: http://monkeypockets.blogspot.com/search/label/Wool%20and%20Fleece%20Monkey%20Pockets
RoSK: http://www.rainorshinekids.com/cold.php
Tivoli: http://www.tivolicouture.com/index.php/mommys-hug-cold-weather-cover

A really wonderful option is the babywearing coat. These are awesome if you spend a lot of time walking outside or take public transit. I used mine all last winter on the bus and train. Babywearing coats also mean you have one less thing to carry with you. Many of them have back carry options too, and can go over any type of carrier. Here are some of the available coats:

Susie’s Kinder Coats (left is the fleece liner only, right is the full coat)

The M Coat: http://themcoat.com/
Suse’s Kinder: http://www.suseskinder.com/
Lillies of the Valley: http://www.etsy.com/shop/babywearing
Lenesha: http://www.etsy.com/listing/121625623/babywearing-coat-sz-sml?ref=shop_home_active

Amautiks are a traditional Inuit baby carrier that is built into the back of a coat. Since the Inuit people live in cold climates, they needed a carrier that could handle the weather. These can be used from newborn to preschool age, but are pretty pricey. They are built to last however.

Amauti Baby: http://amautibaby.com/

If a babywearing coat sounds nice but the price doesn’t, another option is a zip-in coat extender to turn your regular coat into a babywearing coat.

babyWAWL: http://www.babywawl.com/
Kokoala: http://www.mamanautrement.com/index.php/en/boutique/portage/vetements-portage/17/extension-pour-manteau-kokoala/1043

Babywearing vests are exactly what you think they are. A vest is kind of a cross between a cover and a coat. These are great for spring and fall, but also can be used under your winter coat to keep both you and baby warm.

Kowalli: http://kowalli.com/
Peekaru: http://www.bobafamily.com/peekaru/

This all sounds awesome, but I can’t afford it – what do I do?
There are definitely less expensive options! If you are crafty, a DIY option would be great. There are tutorials for DIY coats, covers, vests, and more here:

DIY BWing Coat: http://www.thebabywearer.com/forum/showthread.php?80781-DIY-Babywearing-coat!!
Other DIY Babywearing Covers and Coats: http://www.thebabywearer.com/forum/showthread.php?438347-Other-Babywearing-Projects-Useful-Links
DIY Cover: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5pV1L_lRurQX05NeEpWTXFPZjg/preview?pli=1
DIY Poncho:  http://crafts.sleepingbaby.net/poncho.html

A DIY Zip in Insert!

A coat with a DIY Panel sewn in!

Front and Back Carrying with the same DIY Poncho

A few of us have made a poncho per the link above, and it was great, but we found that increasing the size opening of the collars was helpful, especially if you wanted to do back carries.  If the collar of the babe is “tight” and they sit lower, they tend to strangle the wearer a bit.  Here are a few pictures of the DIY poncho Heather has.  It was easy to make, fast to make, and only cost around 10 dollars with Polarfleece from Joann Fabrics.

But I’m not crafty!

Neither am I. Don’t worry, I have you covered (pun not intended!). Here are some other options:

  1. Walmart, Target, and the like sell fleece jackets that cost about $15. Get one two sizes too large, and simply zip it over both you and baby – this can even be used for back carries! Or steal your significant other’s coat if it is big enough.
  2. Take one of the aforementioned fleece coats two sizes up, and cut a hole in the back. Fleece doesn’t need to be hemmed, so you can use it just like that for a back wearing coat.
  3. Grab a couple of binder clips, a ribbon, and a warm baby blanket that you have lying around the house. Tie the ribbon to the end of both binder clips, and clip them onto the blanket. Put the ribbon around your neck, and ta da! Easy babywearing cover (and it works as a great nursing cover too!). You can also just take a blanket and tuck it around you, but the ribbon and binder clips helps it stay up.
  4. Get a nursing cover clip like LatchOn or Little Carr Cover Me, and use that in lieu of the binder clips and ribbon.

Using a roomy coat or jacket in the winter and fall

Have you loved any winter babywearing products not mentioned here? Tell us about them!

Remember to watch baby’s airway, temperature, and extremities this winter when you are out and about!

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One thought on “Winter Babywearing in Chicago

  1. Pingback: Welcoming 2014 with a Winter Snow Storm! | Babywearing International of Chicagoland

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