Baby’s first winter
Winter can be a drag for so many reasons, especially for a new mom, who isn’t exactly eager to take her baby out into below freezing temperatures. But staying cooped up in your house for months won’t work either. Here are some tips to survive the colder months without compromising your baby’s health.
Mind your temperature
Newborns and infants haven’t learned how to regulate their body temperature yet, so it’s up to you to make sure they’re neither too cold, nor too hot. Although getting fresh air daily is super healthy for kids and parents alike, it’s not recommended to take your baby out in below freezing temperatures for very long—like, longer than to get in and out of a car. If the weather reaches anywhere below 20 degrees Farenheit, it’s best to stay indoors. Keep in mind to factor in the wind chill when checking the weather, as it can be very harsh on baby’s sensitive skin and make the actual temperature much colder. At the same time, you also have to consider indoor temperatures, as babies can easily overheat increasing their risk of SIDS. Set your thermostat between 68 and 72 degrees Farenheit for the ideal nursery temperature.
Dress in layers
The rule of thumb is to add a layer more than what you feel comfortable in. If you’re too cold, or too warm, chances are so is your baby. Remember that blankets are not recommended in the crib for risk of suffocation, so if you want to add a layer during naps and bedtime, consider a swaddle or a sleep sack (like these). You can also keep baby nice and toasty in footed sleepers made of winter fabrics, like these. If you still feel they might be cold, add a bodysuit underneath their sleeper. Just remember, you want baby to stay warm, but not too warm that they overheat or feel uncomfortable. Dressing baby to go outdoors will be an exercise of layering with warm clothing and additional layers like wool or fleece blankets, snowsuits and buntings. When they’re infants, body heat most often escapes through the head, so a soft hat and mittens are very important. Also, their little feet are quite susceptible to cold, so make sure to put on a warm pair of socks or booties. If you’re going for a stroll, keep a warm stroller blanket handy. Once indoors, take at least one layer off so they don’t perspire. If they get damp, they’ll feel a lot colder when they go back outside. When you’re putting your baby in the car, try to avoid strapping them in with all the winter gear. Car seat straps need to be snug and don’t always fit properly over a lot of bulky layers. Take off their coat and make sure they are strapped in properly; you can always add a blanket on top of the safety straps.
Check for signs of discomfort
Generally, babies are very vocal when they’re not comfortable. If your baby’s face is red, their skin is warm and they are fussy, they might be getting too warm. On the other hand, if they are fussy, teary-eyed and their skin is cold to the touch, they’re not warm enough. The best way to keep baby warm is to carry them. When you’re indoors, skin to skin is the most beneficial practice in those early stages of your baby’s life. Not only does it help with the bonding process and regulating the baby’s respiratory and heart rates, it is also the best way to help the baby regulate his body temperature. Body heat from you or your partner can help teach the baby how to stay warm on its own. When outdoors, use a carrier but be careful not to have baby’s face tucked into clothing or your chest.
Protect dry skin
The cold weather and lack of humidity can really make baby’s skin dry. Contrary to what we may think, bathing your baby daily can actually dry out their skin. It’s best to skip a day, and limit baths to 10 minutes in warm (not hot) water. Immediately after the bath, make sure to moisturize, and throughout the day as needed.
Protect from germs
Viruses, it seems, thrive in cool, dry winter air, which makes winter cold and flu season. Keep that in mind when bringing your baby, especially a newborn, to crowded places, like the mall, or having a constant flow of people in your home. Make washing your hands a cardinal rule in your house or keep hand sanitizer by the door. There is no shame in being cautious, especially when it involves your baby’s health.