Decision Fatigue is something I learnt about recently and wanted to share with you because it is something that we all encounter everyday and understanding about it and why it happens can really help…
The phrase “decision fatigue” describes the idea that your ability to make good quality decisions – weighing up all the pros and cons – goes down the more decisions you need to make.
Making decisions takes a lot of mental energy and so it makes sense that the more decisions you need to make in a given time the more likely that your going to become fatigued and start making snap descions, impluse purchases or start to suffer decision paralysis (where you just can’t decide).
So why am I telling you this? Well as new parents you are literally having to make 100s of decisions constantly, all day, every day. When to feed the baby, when to change the baby, why is baby crying? Do they need burbing? Are they over tired? Do I have enough nappies in the change bag? Does baby need an extra jumper? Do I need an extra jumper? … I could go on, but you get the idea. ALL DAY, EVERYDAY!!
That constant mental tax makes it really hard to make good decisions about things like what what carrier to buy.
It makes it really likely you’ll feel overwhelmed with choice. It makes your more susceptable to “timed” sales offers, or to just buying whatever that celebrity or influencer was gifted. In fact, this phenomeon is the reason companies offer timed sales, offer influencers free gifts – they are using the fact that many of use will be scrolling when we are feeling burnt out and desicion fatigued and thus much more suceptable to just buying without researching or trying first as we usually would. This mental tax can also make it more likely that you experience “decision paralysis” – that feeling where you just can’t decide… and so you don’t get a carrier at all but then maybe feel guilt and worry that you’ve missed your opportunity or left it too late (you haven’t, it is literally never too late).
Quite understandably, how to support baby’s head is one of the most frequent worries parents express when they get in touch with me. Particularly parents who have a carrier already, and have tried using it but are just not sure if it is providing enough head support, how to adjust it to ensure baby is supported, comfortable and most importantly safe.
Here I talk through what you need to know in terms of how to position baby and where to offer them support and where not to…
Check where they are sat in the carrier – adjust where in the panel they sit to bring the height of the carrier up or down so the padded top section rests nicely in the back of the neck.
As baby does grow you may well find you do need to use the flap to extend the panel. This is it’s true purpose – rather than being a head support for a young baby, it is designed to extend the panel as baby grows to support and older baby or toddler as needed.
Worried about how baby is sitting in their carrier? Worried about their hips? Or worried about red lines appearing on their legs after being in the carrier?
The easiest way to ensure baby is sitting comfortably is to do a ‘Pelvic Tilt’. This is where you slip your hands into the carrier and gently tilt their pelvis and lift their legs to ensure they are sitting square on their bottom rather than on their inner thighs. Here is how to do it:
Why is this important? Simply – sitting with their weight squarely on their bottom rather than being on their inner thighs is more comfortable. I often liken this to the difference between sitting in a nice deep soft verses perching on a bar stool. Neither is dangerous, or even uncomfortable in the short term but I know where I’d rather be for a snooze or a longer period!
When do to do a Pelvic tilt? Ideally I do a pelvic tilt or check each time I put a carrier or sling on. Babies often have a wiggle and whinge when going into a carrier and it’s really common for them to straighten up as part of this wiggle. So once I’ve popped the carrier on and started walking or bouncing/dancing on the spot to calm baby, I then slide my hands in and do this, then finish tightening the carrier as needed. I normally find that once done I don’t need to keep repeating, once in this position the carrier will support baby here (provided the carrier still fits them well – if not you might need a scarf as shown here, or a bigger carrier). However, if something changes like you’ve sat down and got back up again and/or baby has become unsettled… you might find you occassionally need to repeat the move.
Does it look different for different age babies? Yes it does! I love this graphic showing how this “spread squat” position with the weight on the bum looks for different age babies
But baby bounces up and down in the carrier, straightening and bending their legs? How do I keep them in this position? The answer to this question does depend a little on the age and stage of baby – and is part of the whole carrying will look different as baby grows and matures. Often babies will go through phases of this bouncing in a carrier when they are older … 6 months plus. It is fab!! Maybe not for you – who might find this is an extra work out for your core and your carrying muscles (-my children went through big phases of this around 18 months to 2 years… particuarly throwing their weight side to side while bouncing and I’d have to work quite hard not to fall over!!). But for baby is it fab, it means they are getting active time, they are strengthening their muscles and importantly having fun. Don’t feel like you need to stop them or that they need to be sitting squarely on their bum the whole time. As baby gets older the importance of the spread squat position for protecting their hips becomes less and less (as their pelvis matures toward walking). It is fine for them to crane upwards and outwards for a better view and have their weight on their inner thighs instead for short bursts. It’s all part of strengthening and development for them. Then if they start to get drowsy and fall asleep then do a quick pelvic tilt to ensure they are sat comfortably while they sleep.
Stretchy wraps are amazing. They are super soft, snuggly and one of the best options for a newborn. However, often parents are worried that they don’t give baby enough head support or are worried about how they are ment to support baby’s head and neck. Instead parents often find themselves needing to hold baby’s head, or worse get so worried they lose confidence and stop using the stretchy.
But actually stretchies do have more than enough support built in! A couple of simple tweaks in how you are using the wrap can make all the difference in how much support baby’s neck has. There are 3 things to check, you can see talk through each of the 3 in the video or scroll down for each of the 3 described in detail below:
Check how baby is sat in the sling. Ideally we want baby sat comfortably on their bottom, with their knees higher than their bum and their spine gentle curving bring their head to a gentle rest on your chest. However, babies can often end up a bit straightened up (with their knees lower than their bum and straighted spine) – particularly if they grumble and wiggle when going in. This isn’t dangerous but it is less comfortable for them (as their weight is on their inner thighs rather than their bottom) and more importantly because of the way the pelvis, spine and skull connect means that their head is much more likely to roll backwards away from you. If this happens its an easy fix – simply slip your hands into the wrap and gently tuck their bum towards you gently lifting the legs and allowing baby to settle onto their bottom. Finally readjust the fabric so both layers support baby all the way to the backs of the knee. Viola! Now, due to the way the pelvis, spine and skull attach and how the verterbra stack… baby’s head should gently rest on your chest and not be able to roll backwards dramatically.
Pull the outer 3rd layer of the wrap up – right up to the back of babies neck. In fact ideally you want actually roll that top bit of the wrap so you have a couple of rolls sitting behind the back of baby’s neck to support their head and neck. Often parents simply don’t pull this layer up high enough. Often they leave most of the fabric near baby’s bottom to support their weight and “stop them falling out”, but actually it is the two straps crossing under baby’s bottom that supports their weight and stops them falling out. The outer/3rd layer is there to hold the top part of the crossing straps in place and to support the upper torso and head. And to do this is needs to be pulled up – all the way to the top of baby’s neck or base of their ear!
Use a muslin to create a neck pillow for more support. In theory, provided your wrap is tight enough 1 and 2 should be enough to support baby’s head and neck and you shouldn’t need any other support. However, sometimes parents don’t feel it is enough and if that is the case then you can build in more support in one of two ways. The first way is to use one of the cross passes to cover the back of baby’s head. This is the way shown in most manuals. However, most baby’s hate this and certainly won’t tolerate it while awake (many won’t tollerate it while asleep either). Instead the second way is my preferred method – roll up a muslin and tuck it into the top of the outer/3rd layer to create a neck pillow. Providing lovely soft but robust head and neck support … and having the added side benefit of ensuring you have a muslin ready should you need one!
Voila! Nice, soft but securely supported neck!
As ever if you are struggling with your stretchy wrap, please do get in contact. A quick online consultation (or in person mini consult lockdown/tiers allowing) where you can receive real-time input and we can work together to get the root of the issue can make a huge difference! Clients are always suprised and releived to discover what difference just 20 minutes talking it through step by step can make! So please do get in touch if you’d like help with this or anything else.
One of things that I love about being a carrying consultant is that I get to go off manual. I get to apply my knowledge of how carriers work, of infant positioning and development and I can use that to go off piste when needed.
A couple weeks ago I had a client come to me for help troubleshooting as her little one was really unsettled in their Ergobaby Embrace. She was following the manual to perfection, positioning was fab but baby was unhappy. So we put the carrier down and I asked her to show me how she held her little one when he was unsettled, how he liked being held in arms. She immediately popped him high on her shoulder.
This is such a common position for parents to hold their little ones when they are unsettled. I have so many photos of my husband and I carrying my son in this position when he was sad. We used to call it “the bouncy shoulder”. It pretty much never failed at calming him down and settling him!!
And so it got me thinking – there must be a way of facilitating this with her carrier. So while she calmed down her little one, I got a bit creative and worked out how to support a high shoulder, burp type position with an Ergobaby Embrace. And you know, it worked pretty well! Mum tried it and baby was instantly happier, instantly more settled.
Here is how to do it;
While I have shown it with the Ergo Embrace as this was the carrier my client had, this carry should work with any lightweight buckle. Particularly any that offers the option to wear the the carrier “apron style”. By this I mean that the panel hangs down from the waistband and then goes round baby’s bottom and back up (rather than one where the panel comes straight out the top of the waistband). Just because the apron style means you can sit babies bottom lower that the waistband, which is useful if like me you have boobs and thus are constrained in where you place the waistband to either above or below your boobs (for comfort reasons!). If you don’t have boobs and wouldn’t feel uncomfortable wearing the waistband slightly lower on your chest then essentially any carrier will work as you can simply place the waistband at the height you need to get baby where you want them on your shoulder. Other apron style lightweight carriers that do work well for this carry include theKahu Baby carrier, the Izmi baby carrier, the Marsupi, and Meh Dai carriers (like the Hop-Tye and Didy-Tye) work really well for this too.
Being brutally honest, while this carry was more comfortable than I expected it to be, it isn’t the worlds most supportive position for a long period of time. The carry is very high so the weight it all on your upper back, so this will start to feel heavy quicker than compared to wearing the waistband at your waist and transferring more of the weight onto your pelvis.
But, what it is good for is those moments when you need it. When baby is really unsettled and unhappy in another other position, but your arms are knackered from the holding or you need your arms to get something done. Then when baby is more settled or has fallen asleep it is actually a simple job to loosen the straps and slide the baby and whole carrier back down to a more normal and more supportive carrying position. Or likewise once you’ve finished the thing you needed to do you can go sit down and rest! Either with baby still in the carrier or slipping it off and cuddling them as needed.
For my client, I viewed this carrying position as a “circuit breaker”. I see this regularly with so many parents; what happens is baby cries in the carrier (maybe they are tired, hungry, unsettled etc) and parent is worried they’ve done the carrier wrong or that baby doesn’t like the carrier so parent quite naturally and quite understandably becomes tense. Babies are amazing at reading their parents emotions and picks up on their parents tension and worry, and they don’t like seeing their parent tense so they cry. And then parent is more worried because baby is crying more now, and baby senses parent is more worried….. and on and on. It very quickly becomes a viscous circle. Then next time parent picks up the carrier they start feeling tense and worried baby won’t like it before they even put it on…. and so the viscous circle continues. Until we find something to break the cycle. In this case this high shoulder position – one baby is used to and loves and parent feels confident baby will like – was able to break the cycle, and I very much hope will later open up all the other positions to them too.
So many of my consultations are about working with parents to find the circuit breaker, the thing that breaks the cycle. For many it is simply going through their carrier in detail, step by step, allowing them to gain confidence using the sling and knowing that their baby is comfortable and supported and safe. For others its something else – each consultation is different, because we are all different!
If you’re feeling stuck please do reach out as I honestly, finding the solution that works is my absolute favourite part of this job!
Two days before the second national Lockdown in the UK, Ergobaby announced the release of their first ever anti-microbial carrier. But what does this even mean? Should you get one? Is this something you need?
This is one of those rare moments where my past job collides with my current job. As many of you know before I had my son I was a scientist. Specifically, I have a MRes in Infection and Immunity and a PhD in Immunology. So it really is one of those moments where I am assessing this carrier not only with my Carrying Consultant hat on but also with my Immunologist hat on.
The first thing to consider is what does anti-microbial actually mean? Something that is anti-microbial is something that can kill or limit the growth of bacteria and fungi. Note kill or limit the growth of – not all anti-microbials kill bacteria and fungi, some simply stop or slow growth down. This means you can still get transmission or infection from something with this agent in it. You’re just less likely to because bacteria or yeast will grow much more slowly so there will be less present on that surface.
Anti-microbial IS NOT the same as anti-viral. Generally agents that are anti-microbial are not effective against viruses because viruses propagate in a totally different way to bacteria and fungi. Bacteria and fungi grow on surfaces, whereas viruses can not grow with out a host. For them it’s just about surviving in a transmittable form on a surface and not about growth. This is one of the reasons that, generally, surface transmission is less of an issue with viruses, few viruses truly transmit via surfaces. And the quality of the surface has a huge impact with viruses – shiny surfaces that can hold droplets are far far more effective for viral transmission than something that droplets soak into like fabrics. Fabric generally has extremely low viral transmission. Even if a virus can survive on the fabric, because of the way water soaks in and dries out on fabric, it is extremely difficult to catch a virus from touching fabric. Any fabric, not just specially designed fabrics, ANY FABRIC. Which is great news for baby carriers in general.
The second thing to consider is what the anti-microbial agent is and the mechanism by which is works. So for the Ergobaby carrier released last week, the agent is Silver ions. Silver has long been known to have anti-microbial properties. Bacteria can’t grow on its surface and its non toxic for humans (two reasons it’s popular for jewellery). Specifically it is the silver ions that are toxic for, and kill bacteria by binding to some of their essential cellular components preventing the bacteria from performing basic reactions required to live. Hence silver is used a lot in hospitals, from silver coated tubes and catheters to antibiotic creams used to treat burns. Silver ions are even added to plasters and bandages.
So potentially adding them to a baby carrier, may have certain advantages. If your carrier is prone to getting very smelly. If you use it frequently while working out with Carifit or someone, frequently spill stuff on it and don’t wash it – then silver ions may help keep bacteria from having a field day on your carrier. Although, I should say, the effectiveness will depend a lot on the concentration of the silver ions added to the carrier and on how long they remain in the carrier with washing etc. It’s worth noting that silver infused bandages are not washed and reused (but generally incinerated) so I have my reservations about the longevity of this protection. Likewise the Ergobaby anti-microbial carrier is the same price as the regular carrier, so this makes me a little suspicious about the concentration and how much silver ions have been added. There is no information about this, so it is difficult to tell how this compares with the amount added to bandages and plasters etc.
However, while this may potentially be a pro if you do find your carrier gets smelly very fast, my experience over the last 7 years working with parents tells me most parents don’t find this. In fact, I find most parents will wash a carrier long before it starts to smell. Certainly if it gets dirty or they spilt something on it. And for the parts of the carrier that get chewed on and possetted on there are simple solutions like suck pads to protect the chewed on parts of the carrier. Allowing you to regularly wash these while keeping the carrier clean and dry.
So ultimately when it comes to keeping bacteria at bay, most parents actually don’t find this a problem.
And when it comes to keeping viruses at bay – something that is on all of our minds at the moment in the middle of this global pandemic – silver ions have absolutely no effect on CoV-Sars-2 (the virus that causes Covid19) or any other virus because, as I mentioned above viruses replicate by an entirely different method to bacteria. And surface transmission plays a much smaller role compared to transmissions via droplets in the air.
So do I think you need an anti-microbial carrier? No, no I do not. For all the reasons above. Fabric is a lousy transmission surface for viruses and the chances of you or baby catching a virus off any fabric baby carrier is extremely small. You don’t need a special fabric to keep you safe.
For bacteria – if you don’t like washing your carrier ever and are prone to getting it wet, damp and filthy then maybe you would see a benefit, but if you are like most people and wash your stuff if it’s dirty then I doubt you’ll notice any difference buying an anti-microbial carrier versus buying a normal one. I would simply recommend buying a pair of suck pads instead!
My personal opinion with my both my immunology and babywearing hats on, is that this is all an example of clever marketing. Getting you to think that you need something that actually, for most people, won’t make a noticable difference. I do sell the regular material Ergo Omni 360, but I won’t be buying into this gimmick and retailing any of the silver ion ones.
If you don’t have a carrier yet and think silver ions are cool and would like to own a carrier containing silver ions, then please do be my guest and buy one. Do so with my total, unreserved blessing. However, this article is for the people who maybe already own a carrier then started reading the marketing and thought “OH NO! Did I make a mistake? Should I have bought this instead? Will my baby be safe?” Or for the people who were about to buy something else that they wanted more but the marketing made them pause and now they aren’t sure.
For all these people – you don’t need an anti-microbial carrier to keep your beautiful baby safe. Just carrying them close to your body in your carrier, or whatever carrier you choose that fits you both well, is keeping them so safe and so nurtured and so loved. And that is all that matters.
-Madeleine, MRes Infection and Immunity and PhD in Immunology
While all stretchy wrap manuals and video tutorials always show tying the wrap first and then picking up baby, it is actually possible to tie a stretchy wrap without putting baby down first if they are already in your arms.
It is of course faster to just pop them down for a few seconds while you tie (and I am sure this is why all the manuals show this method!), but it can be really really inconvenient if say
Your baby has reflux and popping them down even for just a few seconds will cause a whole world of pain and discomfort for them
Your baby just fell asleep in your arms and you know the second you pop them down that will be game over for that nap
They are just really really sad and need the comfort of your arms right now
And I am sure a great many other reasons! Feeling like you might need to put baby down can be an real obstacle to using a carrier – leaving you sitting on the sofa while your baby snoozes for 90 minutes wishing you’d got the wrap on before they fell asleep so you could go to the toilet, get a cup of tea and do all those other things you quite wanted to do during this nap.
So know how to put a wrap on around a baby already in your arms is definitely a life skill! Here is how to do it;
The key is to take your time! It won’t be as fast as tying it without baby in your arms, so just relax and take the time you need to sway/bounce/rock baby as you gentle move the fabric and tighten it up around them. Then celebrate regaining your arms by making yourself a well deserved celebratory cup of tea!
I was reminded the other day of something that happened when my son was 2 years and 2 months old. Back then we lived in West Kensington close to the tube and my son and I been out for the day and we were coming back on the District line. As he was 2 he had been walking by himself for most of the day and was now sitting on his own seat on the tube. I had the changing bag and 2 bulky bags of shopping with me. We’d got on the tube with me carrying both big bags in one arm so I had a hand free to Tom’s hand. And it was all fine right upto the point, 2 stops away from West Ken Tom’s emotions and the long day over took him and a massive tantrum eschewed.
One of those humongous lie on the floor beating it with your fits while screaming at the top of your lungs tantrums. One of those tantrums where you are sure the entire world is looking at you and judging you accordingly screaming tantrums.
My first thought was fuck, we are getting off in 2 stops time, what am I going to do.
I think of this often when parents ask me how long a carrier might last and I say 2, 2.5 or 4 (depending on the carrier) and they look at me like that is crazy and say “oh well they will be walking long before then”.
And yes, yes they probably will be walking by then but that doesn’t mean they’ll be walking all the time, or in the direction you want. Or on the timescale you want.
You see, if I hadn’t had a baby carrier that fitted Tom in that moment on the tube 2 stops from home when tiredness and emotion had overwhelmed Tom…. really I’d have had 3 choices
Wait for him to calm down and was ready to walk off the train with me, even though that would certainly have involved missing our stop by some margin and finding ourselves in Hammersmith or Chiswick somewhere miles from home
Get off the train abandoning the shopping because I wouldn’t have been able to carry the shopping plus a boy in full tantrum
Ask for help and hope someone is wilingl to help the woman the screaming toddler
But fortunately I did in fact have a carrier that did fit Tom and I was able to pop it on, and get him in and onto my back mid tantrum screaming and kicking me (using the secure hip scoot method!), then calmly pick up all my shopping and changing bag and walk off the train at the right stop.
And you know something miraculous happened, now securely on my back the sobs started to subside, Tom began to calm down, he was able to start to regulate his emotions again and by the time we were home he hopped happily out of the carrier like nothing had happened.
You see, that yes while children do generally start walking somewhere between 1 year and 18 months, and will be walking confidently by 2 ish, they do still have tiny legs. They do get tired. They do become overwhelmed. Sometimes they just simply want to walk in another direction. That direction might suddenly, inexplicably be into a busy road. Or maybe like in the photo above you want to walk over all the city walls in Dubrovnik pretending your in Games of Thrones and its simply too far for little legs! There are all kinds of reasons you might still want to carry beyond 2.If you do there are many baby carriers that will last to beyond 2 years of age, and many toddler and preschooler carriers that will go even further.
When they physically big enough to fit facing forward in the carrier you have for them
This can vary a lot from child to child so I will discuss both in depth below to enable you to judge for yourself when your baby is ready. Parents often ask me for an age, but because babies develop and grow at different rates there isn’t a magical age where all babies all suddenly overnight become ready to face outwards! For most babies this is somewhere between 4-5 months, but equally some babies won’t be ready until nearer 6 months. Better to know what we are looking for developmentally and in terms of physical fit and be led by your baby.
In terms of developmental readiness, what we are looking for here is primarily neck strength – they need to have excellent head control and upper body strength. The reason for this is simply because when forward facing the carrier is unable to provide any head support. And because they are facing outwards their head and uppermost torso isn’t even supported by your body either. So they must be able to hold their heads up themselves for the full duration you will be wearing them outwards.
I often encourage parents to think about how they naturally hold babies in arms, and then see if a baby carrier can be used to emulate and replace their arms. But it worth realising that you can hold your baby in arms looking outward much earlier than you can use a sling. This is because you naturally will hold your arms in a way that supports their head if they need it. And your arms are responsive, so if baby starts to tire or starts to slump – your arms will automatically respond to this and adjust the support for baby or automatically turn them inwards. Next time you are holding baby like this, do think about how long you hold them facing outward. How long can they hold their own head for? How steady is their head? Do you use your arms or body to help stabilise?
It is important to realise that carrier can not be used to support their head while forward facing without risking impinging on their airway. So developmentally they need to have rock solid head control. I remember my daughter went through a distinct ‘nodding dog’ stage where she could mostly hold her own head but she looked a little bit like one of those nodding dogs. I could quite happily hold her looking outwards in arms but she wasn’t strong enough to do this in a carrier. It was a few more weeks until she reached rock solid.
The other developmental sign to look for is time spent awake. As I mentioned this position relies on baby supporting their own head – which is something they need to be awake to do (even fully grown adults will lose tone and their head will loll if they fall asleep sitting up!). So if you are planning to go out for 30 minutes wearing your baby outward facing, you need to know that they will be happy to remain to stay awake that whole 30 minutes. Or be prepared to stop and change them to inward facing long before they start to get sleepy. Hence, ideally we are looking for babies who have reached an awake cycle of at least 2 hours to give you a decent 30 minutes or so within that awake cycle where they are the most awake and inquisitive to forward face.
Typically babies will reach these developmental considerations somewhere between 4 and 5 months. It is extremely rare a baby is genuinely ready before 4 months.
As well as being developmentally ready, baby also needs to physically be large enough to fit forward facing in the carrier you have for them. Their head needs to be able to clear the top of the carrier (so they can breathe!) and they need to be able to do this without over extending their back. They need to be able to sit comfortably in the carrier, with their weight on their bottom, legs comfortably supported and not overly splayed out. When they are able to do this will depend on their size (primarily their torso height and inner leg length) and the carrier you have.
There is a HUGE variation between different carrier brands. Some like the Lillebaby Complete and Beco 8 are huge. Great if you have a child tracking on the upper centiles for weight and height because it will continue fitting them longer, but frustrating if you have a smaller framed baby as it could be at least 6 months (maybe more) before baby fits. Others, like the Izmi Baby carrier will fit much much sooner, even for babies who are right on the lowest centiles (I once got a great facing outward carrying on a 6 month old who was born early so while 6 months old and developmentally ready, was still the size of an average 2.5 month old!). The Beco Gemini is another good one for fitting babies slightly earlier if they are ready. Carriers like the Ergo Omni 360 and the Tula Explore are much more in the middle, most children will start fit well in these somewhere between 4-5 months.
But my baby really hates being held inward and wants to forward face already!!!
This the the really hard bit. The fact that most babies will hit what I call “nosy baby phase” long before they are ready to be carried outwards in a carrier. Generally, nosy baby phase starts right around the time the huge developmental leap that happens at the end of the fourth trimester. As baby transitions from a sleepy newborn into a much more awake, more alert and far more interested in the world baby. And as baby become more interested they will start to strain to see more and might start fighting a carrier if it is impairing their view. Typically this starts happening around 12 weeks or so.
And parents will start finding they hold baby looking outward in their arms and/or on their hip more and more. But for all the reasons above discussed above, baby is not yet ready to be carried forward facing in a baby carrier. I honestly understand why parents feel frustrated! So what are the options?
The first is to see if you can tweak the fit on your current baby carrier to give them a better view. For a stretchy wrap this might be twisting the straps near the shoulder to safely move the fabric further from baby’s face, giving them clearer sight lines. For a buckle carrier or meh dai this might be fitting it slightly differently so the panel doesn’t come up as high, or so a strap isn’t sitting across baby’s field of view.
The second, and arguably more successful thing to try is a Hip Carry. Hip carries can be a fantastic solution as they give exactly the same view outwards as carrying forward facing, but without any of the cons. Baby can safely fall asleep or get tired in this position because their head can be supported in this position – both by the carrier and because baby’s head will naturally rest against their parents body in this position. It also overcomes worries of overstimulation, as baby can turn their head away as they are starting to become tired. Even once baby is ready to forward face – this is a hugely useful position to know for those times when baby is tired but fighting sleep! And many of the carriers that offer forward facing, offer a hip carry too so you can use either depending on which one works for you and baby on any given day!
As the weather warms up, understandably parents start to worry about whether their baby will be too hot in their baby carrier or sling. Undoubtedly the closeness does mean that it is warmer for both of you, however, there are some simple things you can think about to ensure you both stay safe and as cool as possible:
Think about layers! Depending on the thickness – most carriers count as 1-2 layers (some like Caboo or stretchy wrap will even count at 3), so do think about the layers you and baby are wearing. Can you take any off? Thin loose layers – that cover and protect from the sun are ideal, or even just naked save for a nappy can work too.
Protect extremities from the sun. Sun hats – particularly those with wide brims covering face and neck are great. These ones from Sleepy Nico in particular are great because the little cord tie ensures they really stay on! Hoods on carriers can be a bit of a mixed blessing, as while most do protect from UV – covering the head and face can restrict airflow and actually make baby hotter so a hat can be a really ideal option for ensuring baby’s head is protected from the sun. You can check out our very own hat savers hereto prevent the inevitable lost hat issues! Also think about arms and legs. Suncream if appropriate, or long loose clothing that covers arms and legs or even loosely tie a large muslin to provide some light coverage and sun protection. Another great option is these lightweight legwarmers from MooMo Baby – easy to slip on a sleeping baby and perfect for keeping sun off while not over heating them.
Stick to the shade were possible and try to avoid direct sun, and/or think about time of day and try to avoid the hottest parts of the day. And when it’s not possible to stay in the shade consider bringing your own shade with you – in the form of a large wide brimmed hat for yourself (wide enough to shade baby too) or even a parasol! Toddlers in particular love ‘helping’ hold a parasol… and they can be very helpful if you have a baby who refuses to wear a hat!
Cooling aids such as a damp muslin between you and baby can be helpful in keeping you both cool. Likewise little fans for helping circulate air around you both. One trick I used to use a lot with my son was to dampen his hat. The damp cool hat on his head used to really help cool him down and allow him to settle! Likewise carrying water in a spray bottle so you and spritz you and baby can really help keep both of you cool.
Stay hydrated – seems obvious but drinking plenty of water can really help your body’s ability to temperature regulate, which in turn will help your body regulate your baby’s temperature too. Likewise, your baby will need to feed/drink very regularly too – whether this is via more frequent breastfeeds (making it doubly important for you to stay hydrated) or ensuring you have extra feeds/ extra water in an appropriate bottle/cup for them to drink.
Hip or back carries can feel cooler than tummy to tummy front carries. Even seated sideways or off centre can reduce the skin contact and feel cooler. So do think about if there is another way you can use your carrier that may help keep you cooler. This will of course dependent on the carrier or sling you have and dependent on the age and stage of your baby – but this is definitely something I can help advise on so please do get in contact if you’d like suggestions.
Take regular breaks – if you and baby are starting to feel too warm, do take a break. Build in time to allow for getting baby out of the carrier in the shade and giving them time to kick around/wiggle, have a drink/feed and give both of you a break. There is a reason most humans feel lethargic on a hot day – it’s your body’s way of telling you to go slow and take breaks!
There are of course some carriers that are cooler than others, or some that naturally lend themselves better to being used in a cooler way than others. But in general, the hottest part of babywearing in the summer months is actually the baby (and for the baby – you!). And really while having a cooler carrier can help by not adding further warmth, it won’t magically make holding your baby any cooler! Not to mention that some of the carriers with mesh that claim to be cool yet have reams of heavy padding aren’t as cool as they claim to be! So if you have a carrier already, definitely consider all the advice above and see if any of it helps before investing in a new cooler carrier (unless you want to of course!). Because after-all the British Summer never lasts that long!!
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