Here we go again – as Jana pointed out recently: “Have you noticed that there are not 4 seasons in the babywearing groups, but only 2? Every one tries to figure out how to dress the wearie in hot weather from March to August. And from August to March, there are several questions about how to make the wearie warm enough on daily basis.”
We are asked about what wrap to buy or how to dress a baby when babywearing basically every day. So let’s have a look at this matter.
What wrap to buy?
The answer to this question, in most babywearing groups, is usually “a thinner blended wrap with linen, hemp, silk, Tencel, or bamboo”. Some experienced wearers may also recommend wool.
Lenka will tell you more about the “blend theory”: 😉
- linen – it is usually the first blend anyone thinks of when talking about the “summer material”; however, Linda and I, we are not very fond of it. Of course, not every type of linen is the same, but generally, linen has an enormous tendency to wrinkle and requires (at least at the beginning, when it is not fully broken-in) very intensive ironing – otherwise you risk permanent wrinkles that may affect the wrap’s quality and safety. This is a property that basically disqualifies any linen wrap in Linda’s eyes but I am on quite good terms with my iron, so it is not such a problem for me. But – if it is not the hairy neppy linen, most linen wraps are slippery, not very elastic and it takes a lot of effort to break mainly the pieces of higher weight in. Some types of linen may also feel scratchy on bare skin in case the wearer is one of those more sensitive ones. On the other hand, if you do not mind ironing and like the wearing properties of linen wraps, you will appreciate their breathability and that they feel cool on bare skin – i.e. they are ideal for summer weather.
- hemp – its properties are quite similar to linen. It is a natural material that needs ironing, same as linen (although not that much as linen, speaking from our experience) and it also takes some time to break in and make it less scratchy. On the other hand, it is not slippery and possesses one magical property – it absorbs sweat perfectly, maybe even better than bamboo. For Linda, hemp is probably too scratchy, but I love it to the bone, mainly in summer!
- Tencel – this is the trade mark name for lyocell, i.e. viscose made of cellulose – therefore it is originally a natural material, too. The properties of wraps with Tencel depend on the percentage of content, but generally these wraps are thermoregulatory, slippery and usually little elastic (no, it is no secret that Linda and I do not like such wraps; however, there are certain wraps with Tencel that we love – for example, the divine Dekka Elementy Nikos).
Nona Serendipity It Was Only a Word wrap (58 % linen, 42 % cotton)
Didymos Ada Iris Hemp wrap (40 % hemp, 60 % cotton)
Loktu She Navis Amphitrite wrap (55 % Tencel, 45 % combed cotton)
- silk – this type of blend is probably the most variable when it comes to the different kinds of silk used in woven wraps. It is not only the smooth and slightly shiny mulberry silk, but also the neppy and sometimes even almost hairy tussah, luxurious Japanese silk called tsumugi or the bourette silk similar to tussah. At the same time, there is no better blend for summer – cooling, thermoregulatory and very pleasant on bare skin (when speaking about mulberry silk or tsumugi; some rough types of tussah or bourette might feel too scratchy). But you must count on the fact that it is no easy-care blend and usually requires hand-washing and drying flat.
- pure bamboo and bamboo viscose – do not confuse these two! Although both these materials come from the same bamboo forrest, both have great thermoregulatory properties, absorb sweat, are smooth and very pleasant to touch and generally do not wrinkle too much, the wraps with these two blends certainly differ. Bamboo viscose is a typical “little-baby blend” that is easy to work with and is soft and pliable “straight out of the box”, but on the other hand, it makes the wrap less supportive, generally speaking. On the contrary, pure bamboo requires some breaking-in and is a bit stiff in the beginning, but a fully broken-in wrap with this blend will certainly make up for this little effort – compared to all-cotton pieces of the same weight the wraps with pure bamboo are considered generally much more supportive.
- wool – many experienced babywearers swear on its natural thermoregulatory and antibacterial properties and love to wear it even in summer because it does not have the slightest tendency to keep in smells. Yes, it is true – you can sweat through the woolen wrap and you do not need to launder it right away – you just hang it dry and on the second day, your wrap is not smelly anymore! However, it is quite an understatement to say that wool might be unpleasant on bare skin for some. Same as in case of linen or silk, different types of wool have different properties – cashmere, angora or some types of superfine merino are generally tolerated even by the sissiest sissies (just like me 😀 ), other types of wool (for example, virgin wool) can bite you even through a winter coat and I could not recommend wearing it on bare skin to anyone. However, I have already heard about some badass wearers who do not mind even the wildest biting sheep. Anyway, if you tolerate wool and dare to wear it even in summer, you can be sure that the high-weight woolen wraps would make you warm just as a thick woolen sweater, but if you choose a thinner piece with this blend, you will certainly not make a mistake.
Kenhuru Strillka Earl Grey wrap (19 % tussah, 81 % cotton)
Dekka Plectrum Jane wrap (77 % cotton, 23 % bamboo)
Pabelle Slings Makia Ivory wrap (48 % merino, 52 % cotton)
So much for the theory and now let’s talk about our experience. When it is hot, it is hot. You melt in your own sweat, the sun is burning you to the bone and you make your baby even warmer and it makes you feel warmer, too. If I wanted to make a statement (based only on my subjective impressions and feelings), I would say – forget about all the special summer blends! Buy two or three thin cotton wraps and launder them just as frequently as you wish. Does your heart long for a silk piece you cannot live without? Well, go on and buy it, but as far as your temperature comfort goes, it will not probably help very much, compared to the good old all-cotton wrap. Do not worry, you will probably be able to wear your baby throughout the summer in the same wrap you wore during the winter. 😉
Little Frog Spectrolite wrap (100 % cotton)
Hopity Rain Spirit hand-woven wrap (100% hand dyed mercerized cotton)
What can help when it is really hot:
- shade – planning the walks in the morning or late afternoon and on paths we can spend most of the time in shades; you can also use sunshades or large hats and your baby can wear a hat or a cap with eyeshade
- breathable carry – front cross carry, front cross carry with a ring, kangaroo carry, rucksack carry, ring sling – any carry in which you do not need three layers to support your baby and is possibly “open” from the sides
- carrier – some prefer a carrier to a wrap during hot weather mainly because of the comfort of the wearer (no extra layer of fabric on one’s shoulders and back), but some manufacturers also offer “summer” versions of their carriers (for example, Be Lenka 4Ever or Kokon, etc.)
- functional clothes – both of the wearer and the wearie, if possible (merino, Outlast, Moira, etc.)
- something that absorbs sweat – place a piece of cloth or a thin scarf between you and the baby that will prevent your baby’s head from bathing in your sweat (mainly if s/he falls asleep)
- do not forget fluids (both for you and your baby) – a thermos bottle will do a great job during the summer, too, if you fill it with water with ice; the wearie (if s/he is not already an apt walker, running around in direct sun and sweating profusely when not worn) should be fine with breastmilk only, even in very hot weather
Lenka 4ever – summer version
Kokon with a cooling vent pocket
What do Emilka and Helenka wear during summer?
Generally, it is not recommended to apply any sunscreen if your baby is younger than six months (in some sources, you can even find the age limit as high as one year of age). Toxic or non-toxic philosophy, the baby’s skin is sensitive and one does not need to put unnecessary anything on it if it is otherwise avoidable. We used to dress our girls in leggings and shirts with long sleeves. If the baby is okay with having her/his arms hidden inside the carrier/wrap, short sleeves are acceptable, too. Our favourite type of headwear are cotton hats with wide brim that protects both the face and the neck. Some shade is also provided by the wearer’s body or her/his hat; thin socks are also recommendable. If you do not mind putting sunscreen on your baby or your wearie is already bigger, you can put it on her/his arms, face and feet (if bare).
The functional clothes I, Lenka and our girls wear (not only when babywearing) and that we recommend by hundred per cent is from the Little Angel brand. It is a Czech manufacturer who employs also disabled workers and has license to use the functional material called Outlast (which you can find, for example, in the thermoinserts of the Vivobarefoot shoes 😉 ). According to the manufacturer, the material is able to keep you warm during the winter, to cool you during the summer and to reduce sweating by up to 40%! And that really counts.
I would not know about this brand if it was not for Lenka, in fact – never heard of it, never encountered it before we met. And now? I am totally addicted! The material is wonderfully light, very elastic and endures frequent laundering and tumble drying without any problems. Lenka and I, we both wash and tumble dry some pieces over and over again for almost a year and one could barely tell! This is such an advantage compared to merino, for example. Honestly? I own some merino clothes and the result is that they lie in the laundry basket and wait for hand washing or the special wool cycle in the washing mashine for weeks – who does switch on the washing machine just because of two tiny shirts and one hat and who wants to spend their time hand-washing their clothes, right? The real bio-mum could also appreciate that no animal is harmed during the production of Outlast. 😀
As you can see in the photos, Emilka wears Little Angel clothes basically since birth – from the size 50 up to her current size 86. And just to put you in the picture how elastic the fabric is – the size 68 rompers (the striped wrap one and the light pink striped one) fit Emilka until approximately last Christmas when she measured just a little bit less than 80 cm.
What do our girls currently wear and what we like:
- headwear – caps with eyeshades, headscarfs, caps with neck protectors
- socks and tights – if your baby’s feet get sweaty in closed shoes, Outlast is a total must-have (and they also make them in adult sizes)!
- rompers – if your baby wears size 74, you can but a Little Angel romper size 86 and I guarantee that s/he will wear it until s/he measures 92-96 cm. The rompers are made in different variants with a pretty high neckline, do not slide down the shoulders, are very, very elastic a moreover, their cut is very slim – therefore they fit nicely even to very slim babies. You can also get wrap rompers up to size 68 that will spare you a lot of nerves when dressing your little one and compared to similarly cut rompers from different brands they fit perfectly around the neck. Little Angel also makes sleeveless rompers, so if you are okay with applying sunscreen on your baby’s skin, this is something certainly worth investing in – I used to use it as the innermost, sweat-absorbing layer during the winter, too.
- shirts for adults – naturally, if something is so great for your little one, it would be perfect for you too, right? 🙂
One of our tips & tricks: thin functional leggings and a romper you use during summer can be also used during winter as the innermost layer.
Bottom line, babywearing in summer is no rocket science. You can probably get by without any special materials and blends, too. But if you are willing to spend some money, we recommend spending it on functional clothes while not worrying about any special summer wrap or carrier.
And because we love Little Angel, you can find their products also in our e-shop. 🙂