Baby, it’s cold outside! How do you keep your little one safe from the elements this winter? During the cold-weather months, it is not weird to get a little stir crazy with your baby. Being outdoors is healthy for you and the baby. It helps babies acclimate to the seasons and the day-and-night cycle while you get some fresh air and exercise.
With temperatures below -15 degrees Fahrenheit, you should avoid going outside with your little one. Watch out for wind chill, as this can make it feel a lot colder than the thermometer says. Newborns and toddlers lack body fat and have smaller body sizes. This means that they lose heat more quickly than adults. On top of that, they often lack the ability to self-regulate their core temperature. When temperatures drop below -15 degrees Fahrenheit, it is just too cold for your little one to go outside.
The rule of thumb is to not expose your baby for more than 15 minutes at a time. So check your route and plan for a hot chocolate in that cozy café, or grab lunch at a friend’s place so you can warm up inside. Or just do a block around the house that will take about 15 minutes, maybe it’s not long, but it is still some outdoorsy time.
How do you know your little one is comfortable and not too cold or warm in his or her clothes? The rule of thumb for this one is to dress your baby with one more layer than you dress yourself. Don’t forget, when you go outside you walk and are active, which keeps you warm. Your little one is not and has to stay warm while not moving. If you are comfortable with a jacket on top of your clothes, you should have your baby in a jacket or snowsuit and a blanket. Finish up with a hat, mittens and warm booties to keep hands and feet warm. Dressing your little one in layers allows you to adjust to their needs. Choose breathable fabrics such as cotton and muslin. While outside, check your baby regularly, feel their head, hands, feet to make sure they are not cold (or sweaty as this is an indication of dressing to warm).
Ditch that coat in the car. Yes, it is a hassle and seems counterintuitive when that car is cold. But keeping that puffy winter jacket on is not safe. There is too much material between the baby and the car seat straps. When you leave their coat on you, need to loosen the car seat harness to accommodate them. But in a car crash, they can compress, leaving a big gap between the harness and your little one, upping their chances of injury. Instead, take the jacket off and strap your baby in the car seat. Then layer on top of that with their coat of a nice warm blanket which you can leave in your car during winter. Once the car nicely warmed up, you can remove the coat or blanket, so your little one doesn’t overheat.
While caring for your baby in the winter comes with special challenges, the truth is that — with some planning, a little care, and a whole lot of layers — even the youngest members of your family can enjoy this season.