What a baby wears when in a baby carrier is very important. A question we are often asked as babywearing professionals is, ‘Will my baby get too hot in a baby carrier?’
Overheating in an infant, especially one that is under 6 months, can occur very quickly. Infants, unlike adults struggle to cool down. Their immature regulation systems mean that they cannot identify like we do when they are hot and cool down effectively. An infant that is too hot is more likely to succumb to SIDS than one that is of normal temperature.
Signs of overheating in an infant:
High temperature but are not sweating
Their skin is red
Lethargic or unresponsive
High pitched screaming
Overheating in a sling can be a byproduct of the parent not knowing how many layers of clothing to put on and forgetting that the sling is also classed as layers.
TIP – An infant need only 1 more layer than the adult
If you are planning on putting an infant into a sling bear in mind the number of layers in the sling, for example:
Stretchy wrap – 3 layers
Mei tai – 1 layer
Woven wrap in Ruck – 1 layer
Ring sling with babywearing coat – 2 layers
Look at yourself, how many layers do you have on? If it’s a hot day and you have short and t-shirt on, then baby needs to have a vest AND shorts and t-shirt. If you have a bikini on they may need just a nappy or a light vest.
When going out on a winter’s day, for example, and have a t-shirt and jumper AND coat on. Then baby will need the same AND one more layer. Which could be a sling. Or take off one layer and add a sling and babywearing coat.
How thick are your layers?
The thickness of each layer is going to need to also be looked at. Generally speaking several thinner layers are going to be better than one thicker layer. Equally if you have a thick layer, you will need to ask yourself what is it the equivalent to, 2 layers or more? A babywearing coat plus your body heat and the layers of a sling will provide a lot of heat. So an infant probably doesn’t need much more than a vest and sleep-suit under it. Depending on the outside temperature. Don’t forget when you return indoors to take off layers, this helps to regulate the infant’s temperature and prevents overheating.
TIP – Take off layers when returning indoors
Snow suits are great inventions but there really is no need for a child to be in a snow suit and in a carrier. A snowsuit is a very thick layer, but it also can stop the child sitting in the carrier well. The chances of them slipping into a deep C position is greater, which puts their airway in danger of being compromised. We want to avoid this. It also reduces the ability for them to get into a nice deep M position and can compromise the blood flow in the legs if forced.
Natural fabrics that are breathable such as wool, cotton, hemp and linen will allow airflow and sweating and will be better at regulating temperature than fleece or other man-made fabrics. Think about the fabric properties, for example: wool is warmer than cotton or linen. So, may not be as good an option in the summer months, when it’s warmer.
TIP – Several thin layers are better than one thick layer.
Don’t forget about extremities.
Head, hands and leg and feet get hot/cold quickly, so be mindful and make sure that these are covered from sun OR cold. Mitts, gloves, booties and hats are all ways to keep little hand and feet warm when it’s cold. And sun block keeps them from burning in the sun.
How to check body temperature in new babies.
One of the best ways to check and infant’s temperature is by feeling the back of the neck below the clothing line. Equally the front under the clothing line. Use your eyes too ans ask. Is baby face red? One of the first thing a body will do is go red to cool down, as the blood vessels expand to get rid of excess heat. Use this as a sign you need to reduce layers.
TIP – When your hot, it doesn’t mean they’re hot.
Babywearing for the wearer can be a hot job. All the extra layers of fabric plus a warm baby can make you sweat. Just remember that this doesn’t mean baby is feeling the same. We will often sweat in response to the infant as our body tries to cool down to keep the baby’s temperature even.
What to do if you think your baby is overheating?
Immediately take them out of the sling and take off any excess layers. Sponging the infant down with tepid water or a cooling fan, stay with child until their skin and temperature has returned to normal. If in doubt seek medical attention. If the child seems overly sleepy or is unconscious dial 999.
Babies are being worn in hotter and colder climes than ours every day. So, remember the 1 more layer than you rule, you can’t go far wrong.
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