Keep them close

Reviews and information about babywearing, slings, wraps and carriers for keeping your baby close and content

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Feeling the heat?

It’s not officially summer yet, but it is already very warm in many parts of Australia, and the questions about what carrier or wrap to use in hot weather are coming thick and fast.

Babywearing in the summer is hot. If you venture outside in plus 30 degrees Celsius weather with another human being attached to you, it’s going to be sweaty. There’s not really much you can do to stop this completely, I don’t think there is any such thing as a cool option in that kind of weather, just less hot options. Keep in mind that in some parts of Australia it is over 30 degrees nearly every day of the year, with high humidity, and people that live there still babywear – so it can be done!

So what should you look for? Thin and airy is the ideal – the more airflow you can get, the greater your chance of staying cool. In terms of soft structured carriers, there are a few brands that have a mesh panel instead of traditional canvas – look out for the Kinderpack, Pognae, Ergo Ventus and Connecta, to name a few.

The list of wraps that are best suited to hot weather is too long to list here, but you want to look for something thin, probably less than around 220-240gsm, and with an airy weave. The good news is that many of the all cotton entry-level wraps fit this bill – think brands like Girasol, Little Frog or Vatanai. The bad news is that if you’re carrying a toddler, a thin, lightweight wrap may not give you the support you need, or the comfort. If you’re carrying a bub over 10kg, you might need to look a bit harder to find a suitable hot weather wrap – perhaps something with hemp but with an airy weave like a Didymos Indio might fit the bill, or a lightweight cotton/linen blend (try Oscha), or it might even be worth looking into the world of handwoven wraps, where the comfort level and cush tends to be higher than machine wovens of a similar weight.

Jim Salvia woven wrap

Didymos Jim Salvia is a very thin cotton/linen blend woven wrap that is popular in hot climates

Wrapping in a single layer carry like front wrap cross carry (with passes bunched) or kangaroo carry, or a ruck on the back, is the best idea in the hot weather. A ring sling is also a great option in summer as it probably covers the least amount of your body of the babywearing options. Sakura Bloom and Comfy Joey make ring slings from 100% linen, which is a lightweight, breathable material.

For newborns, while I would nearly always suggest a stretchy wrap, if you’re having your baby in November or December, I’d suggest you try a woven wrap or even a gauze wrap like the Calin Bleu or Wrapsody Bali Breeze rather than a stretchy – the jersey material is quite warm and it needs to be worn in a three-layer carry. If it’s going to be hot the whole three to four months you can use it, you’ll probably not use it as much as you’d like. Alternatively, ring slings are also great for newborns, but look for something soft in all cotton, rather than linen, which can be a bit stiff to start with.

What else can you do? Stay indoors when you’re babywearing. If your home is air-conditioned or you’re going to the indoor shopping mall, you probably wont have to worry too much about what wrap or carrier you use in the summer. Obviously this is not always possible though, so be prepared for the fact that it will be hot babywearing outside and consider whether you really have to – could you take the pram? Could you go out first thing in the morning or later in the day? Allow more time to get wherever you’re going, so you don’t need to rush.

Dress appropriately. Try to wear natural fibres, and consider whether baby needs to be dressed at all, perhaps a nappy will be enough. Skin to skin contact with young babies actually helps to regulate their temperature.

Consider a cooling towel. There are a few different ones on the market (try frogg toggs or search on eBay), but you could also put a damp face washer in the fridge to help you cool down.

Stay hydrated. If you’re sweating a lot, make sure to drink enough water, and give baby some extra breastfeeds (or some cool boiled water if bottle feeding and you think bub could do with some more fluids).

How do you beat the heat with your baby?



Review: Oscha 100% linen wrap

It’s been beach weather in Sydney recently, and word is we’re in for a bit of a heatwave in the lead up to summer. Babywearing in the summer time can be sweaty, particularly if you live somewhere humid, or you spend a lot of time outdoors. But you can do your best to beat the heat by choosing a wrap least likely to leave you and your little one sticky and wet.

Just like linen pants or shirts might be your outfit of choice during the summer months, linen can also make for a great lightweight wrap. While cotton/linen blend wraps come in a variety of densities, some far too dense to be comfortable in a hot summer, a wrap that is 100% linen is thin and cool, less than 200 gsm. Linen is also very supportive, which many people prefer for carrying bigger babies and toddlers.

I recently had the opportunity to try an Oscha 100% linen wrap, in the Amelia colourway. Oscha is a well-established and popular woven wrap company based in Scotland. Among their extensive collection, they produce wraps on natural and white 100% linen with a variety of grad dyes – the Amelia colourway is a gorgeous purple (anyone notice that all the wraps I’ve reviewed so far have been purple? I didn’t plan it that way, I promise!).

Oscha 100% linen grad dyed Amelia

Oscha 100% linen grad dyed Amelia

One thing that is pretty true of all wraps with a high linen content is that they are quite stiff when brand new – so 100% linen is really stiff, it takes a lot of breaking in to get it into a softer state suitable for comfortable everyday wearing. The wrap I tried was a fair bit softer than new, but was still a work in progress that could be broken in a bit more. This quality makes an all linen wrap a bit confronting; I wouldn’t recommend it for a brand new wrapper or a newborn baby in its unbroken state.

This wrap is also very grippy, which meant it required a bit of effort to make the second pass on a double hammock. Linen also has very little stretch, so it is unforgiving of a sloppy wrap job, and it was difficult to get the top rail as tight as I would have liked. A loose top rail with a thin wrap and a 13 kilogram toddler wasn’t very comfortable I have to say. Thin wraps have no cush on the shoulders; to get a comfortable wrap job with an all linen wrap you need to be very precise and careful. The third time I wrapped with it, I did a much better job. I got the double hammock chest pass tighter and therefore my top rail tighter – after my first failed attempt I was surprised to find it was actually reasonably comfortable. Linen is rock solid, which I do like in a wrap. After a 30 minute stroll my daughter had barely moved, and there was little if any sag. With a big toddler, the thinness of this wrap did mean it was a little diggy after 30 minutes however, though I think if I was to use this wrap regularly I would learn more about it and improve my technique for a more comfortable ride.

Solid as a rock with a toddler

Solid as a rock with a toddler

It is certainly lightweight and cool though in the warm weather, which is what you would buy this wrap for. I think if you’re looking for something very lightweight for carrying in a particularly warm part of the world and your baby is between about five and 11 kilograms then this would be perfect. For me, I don’t think it gets quite hot enough in Sydney for me to carry a 13 kilogram toddler in this given the loss of comfort compared with some of my cushier wraps. You would also want to be dedicated to giving the wrap the time and effort it needs to be broken in, if you can’t buy a second hand one already broken in for you that is! A broken in linen wrap will be a million times more comfortable and easier to wrap with than a brand new one. Patience, and perhaps a few babywearing friends to help you break it in, would be key.

If you want to give all linen a try, as well as Oscha, an Australian brand called Lewlewbelle also makes 100% linen wraps. Alternatively, you might like to consider purchasing linen from a fabric store and trying a DIY wrap – it will need a lot of breaking in, but if you have the energy, it might work out a cheaper option if you’re on a budget.

What’s your favourite warm weather wrap?