Does the thought of babywearing on rainy days sound like a daunting, seemingly impossible task? You’re not alone. When I was a Hike it Baby Branch Ambassador in the Pacific Northwest, we always saw a steep decline in participation once the rainy season started. However, once we started posting photos of hiking in the rain with a baby strapped to us, we started getting questions about how we do it: How do you keep your baby dry? How do you keep yourself dry? Doesn’t that ruin your carrier? And so on. Keep reading to find out the answers to these questions and more along with the benefits of hiking in the rain and tips from our amazing Hike it Baby community.
Benefits of Babywearing in the Rain
To help convince you it’s a good idea to hit the trail or pavement on rainy days, let’s start with some of the awesome benefits of getting your family outside in the rain:
Fresh air is good for the body and the soul, rain or shine. It reduces stress, promotes better sleep, and can boost Vitamin D intake (yes, even on rainy days). If you live in an area that has long winters or rainy seasons, time in nature can help prevent and ease seasonal depression. To find out more about the benefits of getting out in nature, check out this article.
Clouds and rain can make the temperature more bearable
Clouds can have both a cooling and warming effect. On hot summer days, clouds can block the light and heat from the sun, making the temperature cooler. During the colder months, clouds can trap the heat from the sun, making the temperature warmer. Even with the added precipitation, you can enjoy milder outdoor temperatures, which can make a hike more enjoyable.
Hiking is generally not the first activity that comes to mind on a rainy day for most people. However, fewer people on the trails makes for a more peaceful hike and more parking spots. I have found that a dreary day is the best time to visit the more popular hiking spots!
One of my favorite things about hiking in the rain is that you get to see critters you wouldn’t normally spot on a sunny day. Amphibians, such as frogs and salamanders, love the rain since their skin is sensitive to moisture. They usually hide or hang out near the water on hot, sunny days, but they come out to play when the rain clouds roll in. In addition, you’ll likely see plenty of slugs and snails, which are fun to watch as they slowly move across the path leaving trails of slime behind.
A Lesson in Resilience
Even as babies, our children are watching our every move and learning life lessons along the way. Showing them that you are willing to go through the effort to suit up and get out of the house regardless of weather will teach them that there’s no such thing as “bad” weather. It shows that even though something is “hard” or takes effort and planning, it’s still worth doing. This mindset can help positively influence them as they grow and experience life.
There is something special and unique about hiking on rainy or wet days. The air smells fresh from the rain and soaked earth, the water droplets make the trees sparkle, and the sound of rainfall is soothing. It’s a delight for the senses! My older son would fall asleep in the carrier almost every time we hiked in the rain.
Tips for Baby Wearing in the Rain
Now that we know the benefits of getting out in rainy weather, let’s look at how it can be done safely, even with very young babies. Keep in mind that you always want to make sure that your baby’s airway is unobstructed, so be sure that any hoods, covers, etc. are not covering their face.
Keeping Baby Warm and Dry
The most important thing to remember about babywearing in the rain is to make sure your baby is warm enough (but not too warm). While babywearing, you will inevitably transfer some of your heat to baby. This can reduce the number of layers needed for both the baby and the adult wearing them. Check out this article for more information on how to layer when babywearing in chilly weather. Here are some tried and true tips and hacks for keeping your baby warm and dry from our wonderful Hike it Baby community.
Invest in a Babywearing Jacket
While they do come with a price tag, babywearing jackets allow you to take the guesswork out of keeping both you and baby warm. Many have both front and back carrying options, so it can grow with baby as they get big enough for a back carry. Check out this article on babywearing jacket options we love. Love your own jacket? They even make zip-in panels that extend the size of your jacket to accommodate babywearing.
“A waterproof babywearing jacket is a huge help! We have the Suse’s Kinder Deluxe, which zips apart to fleece and waterproof shell for mild weather, or you can put them together for truly cold weather. It has child panels for front/back/hip carries so it’s truly versatile.” – Gaila, Ames, IA
Use a Multifunctional Carrier Cover
Various companies make covers for baby carriers that keep baby warm and dry. Just be sure that the cover is listed as waterproof rather than water-resistant (unless you plan to double up on these hacks and use one of the next two options as well). Many of these covers can also be used as blankets, which is a huge bonus when you want to reduce the amount of baby “stuff” you have to lug around.
“I wish the Jan and Jul company had their rain cover when my son was a baby because it’s absolutely amazing and you can use it more than just with the baby carrier! The moms in our branch use it to change diapers by laying it on the ground then baby on top. You can use it as a waterproof blanket to protect and keep baby warm in their car seat, stroller, wagon, or wherever baby is!” – Joey, Provo, UT
Use Spare Rain Gear to Keep Baby Dry
Not ready to invest in more gear? Why not use what you already have? This is one of our favorite hacks because it’s so simple and yet so effective! Many soft-structured baby carriers have straps that unbuckle, so all you have to do is unbuckle the straps, thread them through the arms of a rain jacket, buckle the straps again and you’re set! The rain jacket can also be tucked in around the carrier if the straps don’t unbuckle. Then, simply slip the hood over baby’s head, and voila! Baby stays dry and they can grow into the rain jacket.
“Slip the straps of a carrier through a jacket to keep baby protected. It works with any size coat about 3T and up. I’ve done it with down coats and fleece on cold, dry days and with up to an adult size raincoat on wet days.. also makes for cute babywearing costumes.” – Nicholl, Portsmouth, NH”
“Use an adult rain jacket to place over the child’s head and the carrier if you are wearing them face first.” – Juliana, Fairbanks, AK
And if All Else Fails, Bring an Umbrella
There is nothing wrong with bringing along a collapsible umbrella in case of rain. This can give you peace of mind in case it starts raining more than predicted or if you are worried that baby will get too wet. They fold up neatly, and you can strap them to your carrier with a carabiner to keep your hands free when not in use.
Keeping Yourself Warm and Dry
If you’re like me, you tend to put the comfort of your child first and forget all about your own needs. However, coming prepared with the appropriate gear for yourself means you can stay out longer and go farther without dealing with discomfort from soaked shoes or soggy pants. Check out these tips for keeping yourself warm and dry on those rainy hikes.
At the bare minimum, make sure that you have a waterproof jacket and waterproof footwear. If it’s still chilly where you are, check out this article on layering for the whole family. If possible, buy some actual rain pants. You would be surprised how wet your pants can get while babywearing in the rain!
“Rain pants for the babywearer for sure! And a big umbrella is what I usually do with a younger baby. Older kiddos get their own rain suit and I use a carrier like my Integra Solar that is made of quicker-drying material”. – Karole, Northern VA
“I’m from Oregon, I always use rain pants for myself. Otherwise my butt and upper thighs would be soaked from the rain dripping off our rain gear”. – Tiffany, Oregon
Borrow Rain Gear in a Larger Size
Sometimes the easiest thing to do in a pinch is reach inside the closet of your spouse, father, or friend and borrow a rain jacket in a larger size. Just make sure it’s large enough to zip over yourself and your baby in their carrier but be sure it’s not covering your baby’s airway.
“Borrowing my husband’s rain jacket!” – Leah, Hampton Roads, VA
Protecting Your Carrier
The vast majority of baby carriers are machine washable, meaning that they won’t be ruined by getting soaked with rain. However, a wet carrier can get uncomfortable for the wearer along with the child (not to mention if you want to use the carrier again later in the day). Here are some tips for keeping your carrier dry while enjoying a rainy stroll.
Purchase a Waterproof Carrier Cover
Most carrier companies have waterproof covers that you can slip over the carrier to stay dry. They usually come with a hood to slip over baby’s head and an extra pocket you can slip your hands in to stay dry. You can also find generic brands online that work for most carriers.
The Raincoat Hack
I realize we already mentioned this hack, but it not only keeps your child dry, but it can also protect your carrier by covering both the body and the straps.
“With a soft structure carrier where the straps unbuckle (Onya, Ergo, Kinderpack, etc.) you can slip a toddler size rain jacket over the straps and then you have a rain protected Carrier!” – Rachel, Charleston, SC
Using these tips and hacks, “intolerable weather” can turn into yet another family adventure filled with memories and fun. Do you have extra tips for babywearing in the rain? Let us know in the comments below or share them in our Hike it Baby Community Facebook Group.