Summer time is all about getting the family out and participating in fun outdoor activities. Day trip to the beach? Weekend at the cottage? Afternoon paddle along the lake front? Family week of camping? Visit to a farm? Berry picking?
We at Carry Me Close believe that babywearing is an incredibly useful parenting tool. Baby carriers are safe and comforting spaces for your child. However, like any baby product it is always important to use your common sense and to observe a few basic safety tips when babywearing. For many activities if you would not feel safe carrying your child in arms, do not attempt the activity with your child in the carrier. Here are some safe summer babywearing activities and safety tips.
Water Wearing and Water Carriers
There are baby carriers and mesh slings designed with water in mind. These are great to have when you are at the beach or wadding pool, and you don’t want to get your regular carrier wet from little hands splashing water! These carriers are quick drying and do not absorb a lot of water or get too heavy when wet.
Water slings are great for quick dips in and out of shallow water. It makes transporting your wet child to and from the water that much easier. They are handy if you are supervising multiple children alone and especially handy at the end of the day when everyone needs to shower and get changed.
However, did you know that you should not swim with your child in a water carrier or completely submerge the carrier while wearing your baby? A water sling is not a substitute for a flotation device.
Best practices are to only submerge yourself no higher than knee deep water or water that is shallow enough that if you fall your baby’s head would remain out of the water. In deep water where you cannot wade safely and hold baby in arms, your child and yourself should be wearing a life jacket. Always be within arms reach to small children in water.
Boating and Camping
Anytime you are in a water craft, motorized or not, your child should be in a life jacket. Both of you are safest in a life jacket, allowing everyone to enjoy the waves without the anxiety that accompanies the risk of falling into water. Save your babywearing adventures for land activities.
Camping is a great summer past time for many Canadians! For some, canoeing and camping go hand-in-hand. If you are camping and have to canoe to and from your campsite, babywearing can be helpful during your portage routes. Have your friends and family actually portage the canoe and carry any heavy gear. Wear your child if you don’t want to take forever to get to your final destination because a short 500m portage with a toddler could potentially take hours. On the portage route, while babywearing you could probably manage a few light things like paddles or a small backpack. Once you get to the water, take your baby out of the carrier and put them into a life jacket. Hopefully the weather is good and the water is calm. Enjoy the ride on the water to your site.
Nature Walks and Hiking
A great way to incorporate babywearing with the great outdoors is going on walks in the park or even a hike in the forest. There are many nice trails in the city as well as out of the city for those that are more adventurous.
Certain carriers may be more suitable than others. If you’re going on a short nature walk a thin and airy meh dai, short wrap or buckle carrier may be your first choice. Choose carriers that aren’t too bulky to avoid getting hot. If you’re going on a longer hike, you may benefit from using a framed backpack carrier. Hiking baby carriers allow extra airflow between you and your child, have storage areas for gear and you can often put them down easily without having to take your child out. These may be handy features on your babywearing adventures.
When the winter snows and spring showers are gone out come the cyclists. Cycling is a great form of exercise and it allows you the freedom to get to places that you might not normally go to. Hope on your bike for a fun ride, but don’t babywear too. Save babywearing for your final destination.
Remember the importance of cycling safety. Your child should be strapped in their own seat on your bike or in a bike trailer. Many child bike seats have weight, height and age requirements that must be met. Make sure your child meets those requirements. For small babies there are some models of bike trailers that are compatible with an infant sling seat. Lastly, make sure your child is wearing the correct size bike helmet. Many stores now carry infant bike helmets for little noggins.
Final Safety Tips
As always remember to wear your baby so that they are close enough to kiss. A high enough carry will allow you to easily monitor your child’s airway and breathing. Take frequent breaks if you or your child are getting hot. Plus you and baby will need to stretch your arms and legs after a long carry and a diaper change is probably a good idea too. Remember if you don’t feel comfortable holding your baby in arms during an activity, it’s probably best not to babywear. So don’t go horseback riding with your little one strapped on! Maybe try berry picking instead. For more summer babywearing tips, check out our Summer Babywearing Safety Part 1 Blog Post.
Enjoy the rest of your babywearing summer!