Cold weather hits and mothers start to wonder: “how can I wear my baby in this weather?” I live in Northern Michigan where we see snow and cold weather. I find myself wondering how anybody could not use winter babywearing to keep baby warm!
A bundled baby is cozy and happy. I worry when I see mothers pushing strollers. How do they know their baby is warm enough – especially when icy wind is blasting through everything?! I feel bad for the moms hauling strollers out of their SUV's and trunks… straight into the ice-covered road or snow-covered sidewalk. What a pain!
This isn't to judge those moms that really want to use a stroller. I'm just saying that when you look at it logically, babywearing in the winter makes as much, if not more, sense as it does the rest of the year!
Keeping Your Baby Warm
The first step in keeping your baby warm in the winter is dressing your baby appropriately. This generally means layers. An undershirt paired with a long-sleeved shirt over top (or one-piece outfit) helps keep your baby cozy. Leg warmers (like BabyLegs) and socks also help baby stay warm.
My babies are famous for always wearing hats – and I think they're very important. My little ones wear a hat almost all of the time, even in the house, once we're past the newborn stage. When going out and about, I tend to keep them in a thin, cotton hat paired with a warmer winter hat (or the hood from their outfit).
What's Next Depends on Your Weather
The title says it all — what you put your baby in next will really depend on your winters. My first babies were brought up in the southeastern United States, where winters are mild. I generally put them in warm pants and a jacket, then into the baby carrier, which I wore over my lightweight jacket. On the coldest days I might put a heavier coat over them a bit… but in general it just wasn't that cold.
Now we're living somewhere where it gets cold – and there are places that get even colder! I take a lot more care in getting my little ones ready for going out.
The first thing I do is put my baby into a light fleece bunting. This gives the baby a warm, but lightweight, layer that fits well inside the baby carrier.
The Babywearing Coat
A babywearing coat has been the best investment I have made. I bought the coat when Galen was a baby, 3 winters ago, and I have used it each winter since then. It saw me through two winters with Galen, one winter with Galen and a growing baby bump, and now it's seeing Honor and I through our first winter together! (Update 2013: My coat is now 5 winters old and has kept newborn Corwin cozy for one winter and we're using it again for his second winter!)
I love it because it's made to go over my baby's carrier – front or back. It has a fleece insert. In the fall I was able to wear just the fleece inner part. Now that it's colder outside I can wear it as the whole coat. When the snow arrives (it's late this year) I'll put on the heavy hoods (there's one for me and one for baby) and Honor and I will both be cozy as we go walking.
I still have the baby in their fleece bunting when wearing the coat, and I typically am wearing long sleeves under the coat. It's very cozy and I never worry if my baby is warm or not. I'm able to actively monitor my baby's temperature.
If we get into icy wind, I can zip the wind-proof flap up a bit and put the warm hood on my baby to offer complete protection while we're walking.
A baby snowsuit is an option for wearing your baby in a pack-style carrier (like the Ergo) or a frame carrier if you don't have a coat to put your baby in. Bundle your baby into the snowsuit with a hood up and load baby onto your back. I have friends who go snowshoeing with their babies and toddlers like this.
For milder winters there are an assortment of fleece vests and blankets/shawls that cover the baby while in the carrier. The Peekaru Baby Carrier Cover is one option.
A big coat is a good option, too. Just use a larger coat and wrap it around your baby on your front. This doesn't really work if you want to wear your baby on your back, but if you're out and about running errands, it's a viable option for carrying your baby on your front. It may not be the most stylish piece of winter gear (in all honesty, the babywearing coat isn't all that stylish, either) – but it keeps your baby cozy and warm. Wear something cute underneath and shed the coat when you reach your destination!
Another option for babywearing is the Amauti, a traditional Inuit babywearing coat. The baby is worn on the back with this coat, and stays cozy and warm. In the coldest of times baby is also bundled in winter gear – especially the older baby. These coats are handmade and usually have a waiting list in the cold months, so it's best to place an order as soon as you know you'd like one!
Babywearing at its Best
I think that winter is the perfect time for babywearing. I love to snuggle my baby down into the carrier, wrap them in my coat, and head outside. Being inside all winter would drive me crazy! It's good for Mama, and I think it's good for a well-bundled babe. With proper gear winter is just a new adventure for you and your baby!