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How to Make Babywearing in Canadian Winters Easier

babywearing in the winter

You might be wondering WHY babywear in winter? Here is why I like babywearing in winter:

  • I never worry that the baby isn’t warm enough (even when it’s -30 degrees or colder) or overheating because our body temperatures are very similar
  • The baby is like a little furnace that also keeps you warmer
  • I don’t have to try to push a stroller through the snow
  • I can get some exercise and fresh air outdoors – great for mental health during the postpartum months, especially during the darker winter months
  • I don’t have to worry about bringing a stroller into small spaces – think small coffee shops or boutiques, buses, or places that aren’t wheelchair accessible

What you need to babywear in the winter:

1) Baby carrier of your choice

There are many baby carrier options available. If your baby is under 3-4 months many people prefer a stretchy wrap, soft structure carrier, or ring sling. Find a wrap or carrier that fits you and your baby safely, and make sure it is properly adjusted so that it is comfortable.

The Winnipeg Baby Wearers host two free meetings every month where you can try on a variety of carrier and wrap styles and brands, and learn how to babywear safely. There is also a lending library that rents out wraps and carriers for $5/month, and buy/sell/trade threads where you can find a pre-loved carriers and wraps.

2) Zip in “V” shaped panel for your regular winter coat

The zip in panel is a great option because it allows you to wear your baby beneath your regular warm winter jacket. There are a variety of coats made for babywearing but if you’re a person who feels the cold in January, it can be difficult to a coat that will stand up to the Canadian winter.

Why do I prefer the panel? It can be used in different coats (your partner’s coat, your spring/fall coat or sweater). You can use your regular coat that you know is warm enough. In addition, should you ever need a maternity coat in the future, you just turn it upside down and you’re set!

Where do you get a panel? There may be a person in your regional babywearing group that makes panels. There are also a number of commercial brands, such as the “Make My Belly Fit” panel, which I liked because you order zipper attachments to work with your specific coat.

3) Shoe grips or ice cleats that attach to your boots
Once you have the baby in the carrier and your coat on you’ll likely have a hard time seeing your feet easily. This gets particularly tricky during times of the year that alternate between freezing and melting and when there can be ice under innocent looking snow.
I found a pair for around $20 at Mountain Equipment Co-op but they can be found at other outdoor sport stores as well. They attach to my regular boots with heavy duty rubber elastic so it’s easy to change them off when I don’t need them anymore. The style I have is barely noticeable when they are attached to my blundstones, so they aren’t as unstylish or sporty as you might think an ice cleat could be.

4) Diaper bag with a backpack option or your old school backpack – keep your hands free!

A packed diaper bag can be kind of big and heavy, and I find that shoulder bags/purses often don’t stay in place as well over a winter coat. I like the security of having two hands easily available in the chance I do slip, or to have one hand to hold my coffee and another to open a door, find keys, or tend to the baby.

5) Thick scarf to keep your neck warm

Whether you are using a zip in panel or a dedicated babywearing coat, there is often a space left where the coat ends around the baby’s head and your neck is kind of exposed. A thick scarf that is washable (it is going to be beside the baby’s face after all) put on before the coat is a great solution.

6) Warm hat and scarf, or baby balaclava

Finally, the baby needs something to keep its head warm. I found a crochet pattern on Ravelry for a baby balaclava with bear ears that was very cute and kept my son’s head and face comfortably warm.

Stay warm & happy babywearing!

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