One of the downfalls of living in a cold climate is trying to navigate the world of baby wearing in minus 30... that's minus 22 for you Fahrenheit folks... Over the years I have tried many different ways to have an active lifestyle in the winter while still keeping my baby close to my heart.
The benefit of having more than one child is that I was able to test out many different things over the years. To be honest, I haven't found what I would call the "perfect fit" for myself as of yet - but I still have 2 more winters to go before my littlest won't want to be up in my arms.
If you have tried any of the following and have a review that is different than mine, or have tried something else that you just loved, share it with me, I am always on the lookout for new baby wearing solutions for winter.
First things first. What should you and the baby wear under the jackets, etc?
Of course it depends on your climate, but for the most part a t-shirt and a cardigan for you and a onsie, and an outfit for them. I usually have my babies in babylegs or tights under pants, and if it is really cold and we are going for a long walk tights, baby legs and pants. Socks and booties like padraigs or robeez. They then go in the carrier. This is if the carrier is going under the jacket. If it is going over the jacket, then dress them as you would yourself, or if they were going to go in a stroller.
After you have the baby in the carrier there are many great options out there.
The mama jacket retails for about $300 and is a really nice looking baby wearing coat. It is great for milder winters (think of Vancouver) and can be used for both back and front carries.
What I loved : I really like the look of the jacket. It's wool and can be dressed up or down. It has a pregnancy insert which I found really helpful at 9 mos pregnant in December. It's really easy to use, the panel just zips in and the baby's head pops through the hole.
What I didn't love : It fits quite small so go up a size. I also did not find it warm enough for our prairie winters. (unless I layered). It can only accommodate front and back carriers, so no ring slings or pouches can be used. The neck area is not covered in the baby wearing insert so you need to wear a scarf or something and that can be cumbersome with a wrap as well.
I did like this jacket a lot and wore it often. It was great for the fall and spring and is really nice looking. Even getting it on and off of your back with a sleeping baby wasn't too difficult.
The peekaru is about $100 and is now made by Beco. I really like this option. It can be used for both front and back carries and is a nice warm fleece.
What I loved : This is really warm and perfect for when the weather is transitioning. I would wear a sweater or a hoodie under it, and my baby would be dressed up a little more - maybe one extra layer.
I would wear this either by itself or under my own winter jacket. (for warmer winter days as your coat could not zip up if you do this.) Really easy to use.
What I didn't love : It's not a jacket so your arms are exposed. That was about it though.
This is a new product made in Quebec so it is made for Canadian winters. It's about $200 and fits in any zippered winter jacket.
What I loved : That it fits in my own winter jacket. I like that it is warm as well. It has two places to sinch up the fabric to stop the cold air from getting to you or the baby.
What I didn't love : That it is only good for front carries. It seems a little big for me - but my newest babe is only 2 months old, so it should be better in a year. I don't like how the neck is again uncovered. They do sell a neck warmer separately which leads me to believe this is a common complaint. Also, you have to choose what type of zipper, so if your spouse has a different zipper than you - you will have to buy two different zipper attachments.
This product was pretty warm, which is something that is really great for an add on product.
Suse's Kindercoat ($200) is the standard for the baby wearing industry. It's design is pretty flawless and has options for front, back and side carries. This is something that no other jacket provides. It also has a fleece liner so it can be used as a winter jacket or rain jacket instead.
What I loved: How warm it is. I was actually quite surprised about how much I liked this jacket. It isn't really my style - but what it lacks in style it makes up for in design. I loved how all of the hoods were in their own little pockets (including the mama's hood). The ability to wear the baby on your back and in a hip carry and still be just as warm is a huge plus. It comes with a little mesh bag to carry all of the other pieces (as they all zip on in different ways) so that you don't lose them...as long as you don't misplace the bag!
What I didn't love : I don't like the way it looks. It is bulky and not flattering at all. I feel like a frump when I wear it - but it is so comfy and warm that I just have to put up with it.
This is the best of all of them in my opinion. The warmest, most versatile, and longest lasting (for all ages of babies). While you definitely have to watch a couple youtube videos on how to wear it - once you get the hang of it you can re-join the world in the winter.
EXTRA LARGE WOWAN/ MAN'S JACKET
This just goes to show you that you can baby wear without buying any of the above products. The pic below is a sweater jacket that is wool and stretches like crazy and I just put the baby in their wrap and zip it up and go. You gotta do what is in your budget and works!! If that means not having to push a stroller through un-shovelled sidewalks - you will find a way!!
Ps. There are lots of other jackets, and ponchos available - however these are the only ones that I have tried so far. I will update this list if I get to try any more.