There are ways to keep your carrier dry in the rain. And there are ways to wash it if gets dirty. But how can you keep your carrier from getting muddy in the first place? Or try hard to at least.
Oregon means rain. We talked about how to keep you, baby, and carrier dry. But what does rain mean? Mud. Lots of mud.
On your tails as you wrap in the Target parking lot. On your straps as you load baby into your buckle carrier. On your panel from toddler’s muddy pants. It's so annoying. You just want to wear your baby in a clean, nice carrier and the rainy mud makes that impossible.
First of all, remember that mud washes out. Carriers are fairly easy to wash (see here how to wash woven wraps) and very few stains will actually ruin them. So don't fret if they do get muddy!
That being said, prevention is the best way to keep your carrier clean. Here are a few tips to keep the mud at bay!
Prep your carrier at home. If possible, put your carrier on before you leave the house. Buckle the waist band on before you walk out the door. Get your Front Wrap Cross Carry prepped before you put on your coat. Thread the ring sling while your toddler looks for her shoes. Hopefully there is no mud in your house (and no worries if there is) so let the carrier hit the floor as necessary.
Tuck away danglers. Even if your carrier is prepared, make sure there are no dangling parts still. Roll up shoulder straps. Wrap your tails around you.
Put your body panel and shoulder straps on. Loop/knot your tails up so they aren't dragging.
Short and small. The less fabric you have to deal with, the less likely something will fall into the mud. Try a short wrap (here is a fun list of carries to try with short wraps). A ring sling with shorter tails. An onbuhimo with shorter straps.
Utilize your car. Place your tails on the seat as you wrap. Or sit in the car to load baby if possible.
Ask for help. Ask your partner, mom, friend, or even old siblings to hold your tails or straps while you load baby.
Remove muddy clothes. If your or baby got dirty, take off your messy outer layers if possible before you load baby back up. Obviously make sure you and baby are warm enough before removing an important layer (check out our post on layering baby in the cold).
Don't let the mud scare you, enjoy the outdoors and wear those babies!
Samantha Reddy, ABE
Woven wraps can be intimidating. But there is no denying their beauty. The patterns, the color, weaves---they are truly works of art! Works of art you put a baby in.
A crying, poopy, drooling, puking baby in. Or a sticky, gooey, snotty, probably also poopy toddler. You spend your time honing your wrapping skills only to have your wrappee stain your wrap! Or worse, you get it dirty by dropping ice cream on it or dragging your tails in the mud.
If this happens, don't fret! Life happens!! Babies poop, toddler wipe their noses, and you drop ice cream. Don't let life’s mishaps keep you from using your beautiful wraps. You just need to learn how to wash and care for your wraps. And it's not as complicated as learning Norwegian Wiggleproof!
First of all, understand that normal daily use will not get your wrap actually dirty. Even if you use it every day for a week, it's probably still doesn't need a wash. Your wrap only needs a wash if it's stained, dingy, or smelly.
In fact, too much washing will damage your wrap. The heating and friction break the fibers down overtime. This is a great way to break a wrap in right off the loom, but too much will weaken the fibers too much. Just limit washing to when it's truly needed and this will not be an issue.
Please check the care instructions for the carrier first. The manufacturer may have unique instructions for that carrier to keep its integrity.
Also check out this great chart from Babywearing 102 for general fiber care instructions.
If there is no specific instructions, try these simple steps.
Try a spot treatment first if you can. This works well with dirt, food stains, and baby messes (spit up, puke, drool).
Wet the spot. Then rub some Dawn dishwashing liquid into the wrap. Then scrub gently with a toothbrush. Rinse the spot well. Let the wrap air dry in the sun if possible. Repeat if needed.
If the wrap is very soiled or smelly, a full wash is in order.
First shake out any debris that could get tangled in the weave or smudge into the fibers.
Always use a free and clear detergent. No dyes, fragrances, optical brighteners, or bleach. These can weaken the fabrics and can cause irritation to baby's skin.
Wash on a warm, gentle cycle. Rinse cold. Your wrap will come clean, no need to blast it with hot water.
It's always best hang the wrap to dry if possible. Less stress on the fibers, extending the life of your wrap. But if you need to dry it in the dryer, a low heat is always preferred.
Now your wrap should be clean and ready for more babywearing fun!
Samantha Reddy, ABE
Oregon means rain. And a lot of it. Like 6 months or more of it. There is no escaping it. But that doesn't mean you can't wear your baby for half of the year here. Here are a few tips to keep you, baby, and carrier dry!
Don't worry too much about your carrier. Mud washes out. Wet dries. It takes a lot to truly ruin a carrier. Even a silk woven wrap will probably be okay after a romp in the rain. That being said, if you have a very special carrier, it might be best just to leave it safe at home.
Always make sure baby’s airway is unobstructed. Hoods, covers, ponchos, or whatever you use to keep dry, make sure it is not covering baby’s face. Breathing is always more important than dryness.
Never alter the design of the carrier. Or put added stress on it. No babywearing accessories should compromise the integrity of your carrier. Safety is also more important than dryness.
Umbrella: I know it's very unOregonian to suggest this, but an umbrella is an effective and easy way to keep dry while wearing. It's also inexpensive. Just put on baby’s and your normal appropriate outerwear, pop open the umbrella, and go!
This is a good option for when it's just sprinkling or raining on and off. Or if it's not cold, so no big jacket trapping in body heat needed, but you just want to stay dry. If you get a large enough umbrella---like a golf umbrella---this is even a great option for tandemwearing.
The downside is you need to hold it the entire time. It also may bounce around as you walk, not always covering baby (especially in a Back Carry). If you are tandemwearing, you will need to pay extra attention to keep both kids covered. And, kids like to grab them and possibly wack you. And if it's cold, you and baby still need a warm jacket.
Babywearing Jacket: This is a jacket designed to accommodate baby and carrier. Some are even designed for tandem wearing. They either have an extra panel zipped in or are bigger, with a cut out/hood for baby’s head. Put baby in the carrier, put on the jacket, and enjoy some hands-free wearing in the rain!
There are a few downsides. First, they can be expensive (though they do come up for reasonable prices in co-ops often). You also need to make sure you get the right size for both you, baby (babies for tandem), and carrier. And keep in mind that baby (babies) will grow, so you may need to buy on the larger side so it lasts longer. They are not commonly found it stores, so trying on for sizing is not usually possible.
However, most are wonderful at keeping you, baby, and carrier dry. So once you get one you like and that fits, you will not regret it!
Carrier Cover: This is a piece of waterproof fabric that goes over the front of the carrier with a hood for baby. You still need to put a jacket over you and the back of the carrier (if your carrier isn’t waterproof). Put baby in carrier, put on cover, then your jacket, and enjoy come snuggles in the rain.
Most buckle carrier brands make covers designed for their specific carrier. There are also generic ones that can work with most carriers as well, including wraps and ring slings.
The downside is the cover is separate from you, so there is the risk of raining leaking in. And the cover does not go around your back, the back of your carrier may get wet. Or you still may need a babywearing or larger jacket over your back. And they are designed to go on easiest for front carries. You can use them for back carries, but someone else may need put it on for you. And you will need to buy two of them.
A carrier cover is a great way make sure baby and the part of the carrier in contact with baby stays dry. Simple to put on and take off as needed.
Or if all else fails, just put a waterproof coat on you, one on baby, and just dry your carrier later. A little water doesn't hurt, it might even add to your fun! Just make sure baby does not get too cold, risking hypothermia. Keeping baby as dry as possible in a waterproof layer and snuggled close to your body should keep baby warm. For information on layering baby to stay warm for the cold, check our Layering for the Cold post!.
Happy babywearing in the rain!!!!
Samantha Reddy, ABE