How should you dress your wike baby for the outdoors? Especially when it's slightly chilly this spring or freezing cold?
As explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes says, “There's no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” Knowing what to wear is actually quite a barrier for some moms who would like to get outside with their child more often but are afraid of their child freezing or over-heating. Worry no longer! I came up with these 6 tried-and-true tips for dressing your baby for a wike. Follow them and enjoy your precious time outdoors with your little one!
1. LAYER. One of the first things we wanted to know from the pediatrician when our January wike baby was born was “When can we take her for a walk outside?” Our pediatrician told us to steer clear of busy public areas indoors with lots of germs—but taking a short fresh air walk in the cold weather was fine! Doc told us just to bundle her up and make sure her core was always warm.* Upon further research, it seems that babies don’t self-regulate their temperatures well until about six months old. Until then, most sources suggest dressing your baby in one more layer than you are wearing. This is an easy rule to follow! My wike baby is four months old (this week!), and I use this rule of thumb every day. I count my baby-wearing carrier as a layer because she is so snuggly in there. And just as I layer myself, I tend to layer my baby as well. It’s easier to take off or add a layer than it is to call off your wike due to being unprepared!
2. BUY A BABY-WEARING CARRIER. This is essential essential essential. You can go on stroller wikes, sure. They are enjoyable, especially up to somewhere around 3 months. But soon enough, you’ll be spending so much time wiking that you’ll want to get off the paved path. Any type of exploring or adventuring will require a carrier. You have to try them out to decide what works for you. I use the Ergo 360 carrier with infant insert right now, and both baby and I like it. I registered for it when I was expecting Wike Baby simply based on reviews from friends.
Before I purchased my baby-wearing device, I wish I would have known about all the options for trying out carriers. Firstly, some stores, especially smaller baby gear stores like Magic Beans, will offer services to let you try them all out and determine which you like best. Some places like the Diaper Lab in Somerville, MA, offer babywearing workshops. There is also the non-profit Babywearing International, which has local chapters that meet regularly and encourage you to borrow different carriers from their lending library for the price of a yearly membership and a nominal donation per carrier. Their events sound like fun, and you’ll probably spot me at one soon because I’m ready to explore something besides the Ergo!
3. INVEST IN OUTERWEAR. Invest in your child’s outer gear. If you spend a lot of time outdoors or on the run, they will wear it a LOT, unlike that cute outfit you just bought. Here’s where I over-the-top plug a company that I have absolutely no affiliation with… and technically have never purchased from… Patagonia is an amazing company. I can totally get behind their mission statement, which is “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” They actually want you to keep using their gear forever rather than throwing it away to buy something new, so they have an entire section of their website dedicated to teaching you how to take care of your purchases. You can also send your purchases back to them for repairs. Their baby puff jackets are super warm and high quality… and also $80. For this reason, I highly recommend finding someone to give you their Patagonia hand-me-downs! That’s what we did. We are so grateful to our neighbor and our family for having babies two years before us, buying lots of Patagonia, and handing it down to us! Knowing what I know now about their products, I might even splurge on some quality outer gear for my child in the future.
4. FIND SOCKS. Find socks that don’t fall off. …and when you do, tell me about them!! This has been a major struggle for us. Wike Baby has about 50 pairs of socks (no lie) and only two pairs sort of stay on. She wears those every. dang. day. And at four months old, they now look completely worn. I also have no idea what brand they are, so I can’t possibly purchase more. It’s time for me to buy some Zutano booties. Every mom who has them swears by them. They have a two snap system, so they don’t easily come off. One hiking mom told me she used these for her son on top of other socks all winter long. Again, they aren’t cheap. At $21 a pair, you have to remember that your child wears socks every day, their feet hardly get dirty if they aren’t yet walking so you can reuse them before washing, and keeping their feet warm outside is very important! I am ordering a pair for Wike Baby as we speak. You can purchase them on the Zutano website (free shipping over $50) or on Amazon (like me) for quick and free shipping if you have Prime.
*** Update: Some Zutanos have been recalled as of April 25, 2017. Use this link to check your purchases https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2017/zutano-recalls-infant-booties
5. PUT ON HATS. I’m not really a hat gal, and I never have been; however, babies need lots of hats! You need three types in your baby's closet, and you need to put one on your child for basically every wike. First, you need the regular hat for covering their heads in mild weather. These are the little beanies that often come with outfits and are perfect for cloudy spring day wikes and for running into the store. Next, you need a sun hat to protect them from burning. If your child is like mine and came into the world with a full head of hair, you’re lucky that they have some built-in protection, but they still need sun hats! Thirdly, babies need a very warm winter hat. If you live somewhere like Boston where it gets quite frigid, I’d even recommend getting a couple of winter hats of varying degrees of warmth. Someone knit us an adorable hat that she wears on cold days, but we have a super warm hat for frigid days, as well. For winter wikes, you'll also want to put mittens on baby; those hands get ice cold quickly!
Besides protecting baby from sun and cold, hats also protect from insects… like the dreaded ticks! Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you know that ticks are quantitatively and qualitatively TERRIBLE this year. Taking precautions like wearing pants, high-rise socks, and repellant, in addition to sporting a hat, will help both you and baby steer clear of those tick-borne illnesses. You can read more about protecting yourself and your baby against ticks on my post here.
6. ATTITUDE. If you’re like-minded enough to be reading this post to the end, you probably already have the right attitude. Wearing your nature-loving attitude is obvious. You also need to strike the balance of being spontaneous and ready for anything while also being carefully planned and prepared. This is completely essential! If both of you are dressed correctly and you timed your hike well with regard to feeding, changing, and napping, you are ready to go with the flow and see what nature has to show you today.
*Obviously don't take my word for it, ask your own doctor for her advice!
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I hope these 6 tips help you GET OUTSIDE more often. As the weather warms, maybe my tips will change. What do you think? What tips would you share with moms of potential wike babies?