We always wore our baby UNDER our coat during the cold winter weather - we would just wrap him in his Moby and put our bigger sized coats over us both. It worked perfectly and our son loves his front carry winter walks. But if you have an older baby who you already wear on your back, and you are crafty enough to fashion a coat alteration like this (I am completely void of all sewing talent myself), this is a great idea and looks fairly easy to do! :)
For more babywearing links and tips, see the International Babywearing 2009 page.
This coat is really easy to make. Honest! And it's sooo much warmer and more comfy than wearing the baby over your coat.
- Buy a really cheap or used winter coat a few sizes too big. It doesn't need to be puffy polyester like mine. I'm sure the technique would work with anything as long as the inside is lined with something smooth. In other words, an unlined fleece jacket would be a total flop. I know from experience. The way you get the jacket on is to hold it backwards in front of you and flip it over your head. It will settle around you and the kid's head will simply slide out through the hole, then you put your arms in and zip it up. It's easier than it sounds. Anyway, the problem with something "sticky" like fleece or wool is that the material sticks to your clothes and it's nearly impossible to get the kid's head through. You'll just end up with the kid smothering in the blanket and screaming. I know because I've tried. Not pleasant.
- Now buy some matching (contrasting also looks good) fleece to your coat. Decide if you want the side fleece panels to be double or single layer thick. I have mine double on top and single on the sides. It gets HOT under that jacket really fast so adjust the amount of fleece to your local climate. I can't tell you exactly how much you'll need to buy but it won't be much. You just need enough for the 2 side and 1 top panel. My finished side panels measure 15cm x 45cm and the top one is 25cm x 11cm (or 25cm x 22cm unfolded, as it's double-thick).
- Now cut away part of the back of your jacket (25cm x 40cm), leaving it attached at the bottom.
Don't cut it out at the bottom. I accidentally did this and had to sew it back on again. Oops.
Here's a picture of what the bottom looks like when done correctly (I hope Nabigus doesn't mind me using her photo). Her coat is sewn a bit differently than mine:
- Sew the fleece panels (one or two layers thick, as you like) onto the sides of the middle coat panel. They will come to a point at the bottom and will be longer than the coat panel at the top if you do it correctly.
- Sew the top fleece panel (two layers thick, fold should be along the top where the kid's head will come through) onto the top of the coat panel and to the top inside bits of the side panels.
- Sew the outsides of the side fleece panels to the main coat. I made mine overlap the coat a bit so that my back doesn't get cold when there's a draft. It also keeps my daughter from drooling on my back (hee, hee). The only problem with overlapping is that you have to do the flip-thing to get the coat on. If you do it without overlapping (like Nabigus above) then you could probably just put the coat on normally and their head would pop through. Which looks less strange when you're standing in a restaurant. But, then again, babywearing always draws stares, doesn't it?
- Finish the top cut of the coat. I just used some leftover fleece but bias tape could be used as well, I suppose. It's important that this is finished relatively smoothly as their head will be resting on it when they're asleep. And they'll go to sleep FAST in this coat!
- Now fold a sort of flat pleat on each side of the neck-hole fleece. Like this:
That keeps the neck much tighter than the body so that no cold wind comes in. It can be expanded later as the kid gets bigger (that's why I didn't cut the material).
- Ta da! You're done and now you have an amazing babywearing coat. Expect to be constantly asked, "Where did you GET that?"
Last note: Nabigus has a tighter coat than I do so she made the panel longer to accommodate her child's feet. My daughter's feet fit under my jacket even with the shorter panel as my coat started out much too big for me. Adjust your own sewing accordingly.