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