Well, it’s still cold and we’re definitely in the thick of winter around here. Not my favorite time of year, but trying to enjoy some of the more fun elements. As promised, here are some more ideas of things that help us as blind parents when traveling out of doors in the winter months. two of the most challenging things I find are first, keeping me and my children warm for long periods of time, and second, carrying and keeping track of all the extra gear. This week I’m sharing some of my tried and true practices for you and your children to stay warm in cold weather. Here goes!
Tips for Babywearing in Winter
- Use a baby wearing device as much as possible when you are out using public transportation or running local errands. This will help keep your child warm and you won’t have to worry about dragging a stroller through plowed up snow on walkways or along icy sidewalks (See my recommendations here). It also allows you to use a large umbrella if needed, to cover both you and your child.
- When wearing your baby on your front(facing in or out), wrap a medium weight blanket (something that you can easily tuck back into a bag when indoors or carry on your person) around the child and tuck the blanket into the straps on either side of you and also tuck the bottom of the blanket in around your child’s feet. Presumably, Your child will also be bundled up in warm clothing, but the extra blanket will help add an extra layer of warmth and trap your body heat in with the baby, and it can also shield your baby from the wind as you can pull it up around his face.
- If your coat is big enough, you can put the baby on first and then zip your coat up around the baby.
- For children who are a little older and can ride on your back, make sure they are wearing longer socks as the backpack can sometimes make their pants ride up as it pulls between their legs, exposing their ankles or legs. Using leg warmers for girls which can be pulled over socks and leggings, or even over the heel of a shoe and up onto the leg also work great.
- Use beanies/skull caps/snow caps to keep your child’s head warm. Hoods on coats are also great, but often the hoods will slide off when your child turns his/her head or leans backward. I suggest putting on some kind of snow cap and then pulling the hood over the top. The hood will keep cold air from hitting your child on the back of the neck or blowing down her coat.
Cold Weather Clothing Advice
- Fingerless gloves with a mitten cover are great because they allow you the ease of using your fingers without having to remove your glove. This is helpful if you’re trying to use a braille notetaking device for directions, your phone, clean up after a guide dog, etc. so that you can feel what you are doing but still keep your hands warm. You can then cover your fingers with the mitten top to keep them warm after you’re done.
- Snowcaps or beanies are really helpful as they keep your head warm, thus keeping your body from losing a lot of heat, but still allow you to hear, unlike a hood that can block your ears or deflect sound.
- Mittens are great with little ones because you don’t have to mess with lining up all of your child’s fingers. It saves time and sanity. I also really suggest using mittens that are attached by a string–so much easier to keep track of them.
- Give yourself or your child permission to be mismatched. Don’t worry about using mismatched gloves. If you lose a glove, don’t worry about putting it on with another one from another pair. I used to worry about people judging if my children weren’t matching in some way—blaming it on the fact that I was blind—but truthfully, if it’s cold, you just want gloves on you and/or your child.
- Keep an extra pair of socks for you and your child in your bag. Sometimes plowing through snowbanks or puddles can result in wet feet or pant legs, and a pair of warm, dry socks can help warm you up, especially if you are going to be at a place for a while before returning home—just in case your boots aren’t as waterproof as they seem.
- Depending on the type of outing you are taking, and the duration of it, Consider bringing an extra pair of slip-on shoes (i.e., canvas sneakers or ballet flats which will fit easier in your bag) to change into at your destination so that you can slip off your wet boots and warm up your feet. You can easily step into a restroom and change out your shoes and slip off any extra layers so that you aren’t too bulky or hot inside a building.
- Layer up. It’s easier to take off layers if you’re too warm than it is to get warm if you are out and about. Light layers also work well because you can put several on and be warm (e.g., t-shirt, long sleeve pullover, lightweight hoodie and a pullover sweater, etc.) but not feel as bulky as you might with thermal underwear or heavy sweaters, especially if you are wearing your child in some form (it’s harder to get a pack or wrap on and off if you are really bulky with a coat and several thick layers.
- Consider fleece lined tights or leggings (for women) or men’s light-weight Under Armor style or jersey thermal pants under your clothing–not as bulky as traditional thermal under ware but still warm and bearable when you are indoors.
- Invest in a good pair of winter boots and rain boots with insulation and good traction.
- Use bell bracelets on your child’s boots. Often boots do not have loops on the back or laces where you can easily attach a bell. A bracelet will fit over the boots and still work as well in helping you for locating your child. I used women’s bell bracelets on my daughter and they worked great and were really cute. (We had a lot of friends want them for their daughters.) I suggest a bracelet on each foot to make sure they are loud enough. Here is an example for a girl. If you feel a little strange about your son wearing a bracelet. You can use something plainer like this, or even make your own using some kind of hemp cord, yarn, or even pipe cleaners, and craft bells.
Well, there you go. Hope some of these suggestions are helpful to you. Let me know what other tips you’ve found to help you stay warm for long periods of time outdoors.