Water Carriers 101

It’s the stereotypical summer scene: lounging around at the pool or beach on a beautiful, carefree day. Add a baby/toddler/kid (or two), and suddenly this seems a little less idyllic, right? As with everything, there’s a baby carrier for that!

Why a water carrier?

Water carriers are baby carriers that are designed for use in or near the water. Why do you need a special carrier? Because regular carriers aren’t designed for use in water, wearing them wet can put extra stress on the carrier. Water carriers are made with materials that can better hold up to salt water or pool water. Also, a regular carrier can sag or stretch when wet in ways a water carrier won’t – so it’s safer for baby to be in a water carrier if you’re going to be splashing around. Water carriers also dry faster, since they’re made of quick-drying materials and use less padding.


Safety First

As with all babywearing, safety is very important. All of the same considerations that you would make for dry wearing should be made for water wearing – you want to make sure baby’s airway is clear and visible, that baby is in an ergonomic position, and that you and baby are both comfortable.

Also, the same as all babywearing, you don’t want to do anything while wearing that you wouldn’t do while holding baby in your arms. While water carriers are made to get wet, you don’t want to actually swim with them – wading and splash pads are perfect, but heading into deep water while wearing isn’t safe. A great rule of thumb is to stay no more than waist-deep in a pool and less deep than that in ocean waves. Remember, baby’s head will always be lower than yours so you need to be extra aware of where baby is in relation to the water.

We often rely on babywearing to corral multiple kids – wear the little one so we can attend to the older one – but when it comes to water wearing, you have to be incredibly cautious. If something happens with the older child, it’s easy to lose awareness of where baby is in relation to the water and accidently dunk them.


Picks from the Lending Library

So, how do you pick a water carrier? A good place to start is with which carriers you like on dry land. Whether you prefer a wrap, ring sling, meh dai, or buckle carrier, you can find a water-friendly version. Also, then, consider what you want to use it for. Mesh ring slings are a great, fast-drying option but aren’t ideal for carrying outside of water. A buckle carrier will provide more support for a carry on land as well as in the water.

In the lending library we have several to try out including the Connecta Solarweave and BityBean, which are both buckle carriers, a Water Onbuhimo by Cute Awaking, the Wrapsody Duo water wrap, and water-safe ring slings from Zanytoes and Comfy Joey.

Water Carrier Care

Water carriers need a little extra TLC to extend their life – salt and chemicals can be harsh on them. Once you’re done wearing, it’s best to rinse out the carrier in water and hang to dry. At the end of the season, wash according to the manufacturer’s directions before storing.

Beating the Babywearing Heat

Babywearing can be hot. When you’re strapping two bodies together there’s really no way around it, but there are tweaks that can make you and baby more comfortable in hot weather.

Pick a cool(er) carrier

Some fabrics and carrier designs are a little lighter or more breathable.

Ring slings, by design, only have one pass of fabric around the child, so they are one of the cooler options for warm-weather wearing. Ring slings made of linen are light and breathable – perfect for summer. In the lending library, we have linen slings from Comfy Joey, Zanytoes, Sakura Bloom, and Soul Sling.

You can also pick wraps made from lighter materials. Options from our lending library include the Wrapsody Breeze, Wrapsody Stretch Hybrid, K’Tan Active, and Solly Baby,

Soft-structured carriers made with lighter fabrics or mesh panels are another great, breathable option. In the lending library, we have the Beco Gemini Cool, BityBean Ultra Compact Baby Carrier, Ergo Performance Ventus, Infant Kinderpack with Koolknit, Pognae, Connecta Solarweave, Lillebaby All Season and Lillebaby Airflow.

Ways to keep cool

Regardless of which carrier you use, there are a few things that will keep you and baby cooler.

  • Dress in light colors, which will feel cooler in the direct sun.
  • Dress in layers, especially if the day will start cool. During the spring, the day can heat up fast. Being able to shed a layer is an asset.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking enough water will help keep your body temperature down. Remember, babies shouldn’t be given water –
  • A misting fan will also help you and baby feel cooler – and stroller fans can also be clipped to carriers!
  • Keep out of the sun as much as possible. Sun hats will help keep you covered – or use an umbrella to make your own shade.
  • Use a cooling towel to cool the wearer. A cooling towel like FroggToggs should never be used on baby or between baby and the wearer because babies can’t regulate their body temperatures as well and it’s hard to tell if they’re getting too chilled.

Watch for overheating

When you’re out and about, it’s important to stay mindful of signs that baby is in distress. Signs of overheating can include:

  • Rapid breathing or rapid heartbeat
  • Excessive redness or rash
  • Baby seems dizzy, confused, lethargic, or limp
  • Baby acting overly fussy and uncomfortable

If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to get baby and yourself into a cooler environment and consult your pediatrician.

Babywearing ABCs

If you’ve been to a meeting, you’ve heard the VBEs talk about the ABCs of babywearing. We start every meeting this way because whether you’re brand new to babywearing or a seasoned wearer, these are great reminders.

A is for Airway. We always, always, always want to make sure that baby can breathe easy in the carrier. We don’t want baby to be chin-to-chest because it can pinch off baby’s airway. (To see what we mean, put your chin to your chest and try to breathe. Go ahead! Not really comfortable, right? And babies don’t even have the muscle development you do, so it’s even worse for them!) You also want to always have a clear sight of baby’s airway and make sure that the carrier (or your clothing) are not impeding fresh air from circulating around baby’s face.

B is for Body Position. You want to make sure baby has a nice, neutral spine. Baby should have enough support that they’re not slumping over, but not so tight that they’re unnaturally straight. Baby should be in the seated “M” position, with baby’s knees higher than their bum, and the carrier should support baby from knee to knee.

C is for Comfort. You should be comfortable. Baby should be comfortable. If you’re not, let’s fix it. Bring the carrier with you to a meeting and we can help you tweak your carry to make it more comfortable, or you can browse our lending library and try out some other options. Can’t make a meeting? Post some pictures to our Facebook group and we’ll try to help with some virtual tweaking!


How to Rock Your First Babywearing Meeting

We get it. Attending your first meeting can be intimidating. It’s hard to get out of the house with a new baby. Or a toddler. Or one of each. And when you don’t know what you’re walking into, it can be even harder – but we’d still love to see you at a meeting so we’ve put together this quick guide on what goes down at them so you can be prepared. Consider it a cheat sheet to rocking your first babywearing meeting.


Before the Meeting

  • Double check the meeting time/date/location on our Facebook group or page. We don’t often switch things at the last minute, but if we do we’ll post updates to both.
  • Come as you are. So you haven’t showered in two days and are covered in spit up? It’s cool. We’ve all been there. We don’t judge.
  • If possible, dress yourself and the kid(s) in layers. Our meeting rooms are often warm (and babywearing is warm) so it’s helpful to be able to shed a layer or two if needed.
  • Bring any carriers that you have. We’re happy to help troubleshoot any issues you’re having or adjust the fit to make you more comfortable. Don’t have a carrier? That’s totally fine! We have a big lending library for you to try on.
  • Kids are always welcome but if you’re still expecting or can’t bring the child, we have weighted demo dolls available.
  • Feel free to bring your support system. Any caregivers, extended family, and friends interested in learning more about babywearing or wanting to be supportive are welcome to come along!

At the Meeting

  • Aim to get there during the first 15 minutes of the meeting. We don’t expect you to be in your seats, ready to go exactly at meeting start time but arriving at the beginning of the meeting will ensure you hear the intro and any announcements and important info we have to share.
  • Check in. We’ll need all attending adults to check in – there’s usually a laptop near the door for this. If you can’t find it, a volunteer will point you in the right direction.
  • Listen to the intro. We’ll start each meeting by introducing the Volunteer Babywearing Educators (VBEs) and volunteers there, going over some basic babywearing safety, and explaining the main carrier types we have in the lending library. It’s a super helpful crash-course for new wearers and a good refresher for seasoned wearers.
  • After the intro, we generally break into groups for more individualized instruction. Each VBE present will take a carrier type and anyone interested in that carrier can join them to learn more. Feel free to switch groups at any time!
  • Does baby need a break? Take one! We totally understand if you need to pause in the middle of something to feed or change a baby. We operate on kid time.
  • Want to take a carrier home for the month? You can! Full details on our lending library and policies can be found here. You can check out a carrier at any point during the meetings – fifteen minutes before the end of the meeting is our “last call” and then we start packing up the library.

After the Meeting

  • Still need some help with getting a proper fit? Want to double-check what you’re doing is correct? Feel free to post pictures to the Facebook group! We’re happy to do some virtual trouble shooting.
  • Have a serious mess or a stomach virus and need to wash that carrier you borrowed? Contact a VBE for washing instructions.
  • Note the date/time/location of the next meeting. Any carriers borrowed from the lending library are due in the first 30 minutes of the next meeting. If you can’t make a meeting, you can drop off a carrier at the closest VBE’s house before the meeting – just send us a message!

We hope to see you at a meeting soon!

Cleaning Carriers: A How-to Guide

Kids are messy creatures and lots of daily life happens while wearing a baby carrier. It’s unavoidable that at some point you’ll end up having to wash a carrier. Knowing how to properly clean a carrier is important – incorrect care can damage the carrier or shorten it’s lifespan – but the process can also be intimidating. We’ve put together a guide to walk you through the process and make things as easy as possible.

Step 1: Decode your carrier’s care label

Most likely, your carrier will have a label with laundry symbols telling you exactly how the manufacturer suggests caring for it. The chart below translates what those symbols actually mean.

Laundry Symbols

If your carrier doesn’t have a label, check the manufacturer’s website for care instructions. If no wash information is available from the manufacturer, you use the chart below, put together by BWI of Kitsap Peninsula.


If your carrier is a blend of fabrics, wash according to the directions for the most delicate fiber.

Step 2: Pick the Right Detergent

Now that you know how to wash your carrier, you’ll want to make sure you’re doing it with the right detergent. It is recommended to use a liquid detergent free of optical brighteners and softeners. Wool and silk wraps require a special enzyme-free detergent for delicates.

Here is a list of recommended detergents for washing carriers:

  • All Free & Clear from Military Commissary ONLY (will have dog tags and say optical brightener free). All Free & Clear purchased elsewhere will contain optical brighteners and not be suitable for woven wraps.
  • Allens Naturally Laundry Detergent Liquid
  • Attitude
  • BabyGanics Loads of Love 3X*
  • Bio-Kleen Laundry Liquid
  • Bio-Vert
  • Charlie’s Soap Liquid
  • Citra Suds Liquid 2x
  • Country Save Liquid
  • Dapple Baby Liquid Detergent*
  • Eco-Max Liquid
  • Ecos Free & Clear
  • Ecover Liquid
  • Green Works*
  • Honest Company liquid detergent
  • Mountain Green
  • Mrs. Meyer’s detergents*
  • Planet
  • Seventh Generation*
  • Soap Nuts
  • Sport-Wash
  • Thirsties Super Wash*
  • Vaska
  • Wonderwash
  • Ecover Delicate
  • Eucalan
  • Kookaburra
  • Unicorn Fibre Wash

*contains enzymes– not recommended for washing silk or wool.

If you need to spot-clean a stain, try using:

  • Dish soap (some contain enzymes and can be harsh on fibers if using long term)
  • Buncha Farmers Stain Stick
  • Rubbing alcohol for ink stains
  • Hydrogen peroxide for organic stains
  • Sunlight

Step 3: Best Practice Tips & Tricks

Now that you know how to wash the carrier and what to wash it with, you’re ready to go – but a few more tips will make the washing process a little more gently on your carriers.

For Soft Structured/Buckle Carriers: Loosen all the webbing and clip all buckles. Remove any removable pieces like hoods or support belts. Place the carrier in a pillowcase or bag for delicates to wash to keep things from getting tangled or banging around too much.

For Mei Tais: Place the carrier in a pillowcase or bag for delicates to wash to keep things from getting tangled.

For Ring Slings: Unthread the carrier and use a pair of socks to slip over the rings to keep them from banging around.

This is how we recommend washing carriers – both your personal carriers and those from our lending libraries. If you have an additional questions about washing a lending library carrier, email us at centralnj@babywearinginternational.org.

Sources: Caring for Your Carriers by Babywearing International of Kitsap Peninsula, The Proper Care and Use of Baby Carriers by Babywearers of the Midlands, What’s the best way to wash my baby sling or baby carrier? by QuirkyBaby Blog