Winter Weather Is In The Forecast!
How can you keep your baby safe when it’s cold outside?
Here’s some ideas. Remember if you say to yourself, “I wonder if….” you should do what your heart says is safer.
Dressing for Winter
- Newborn babies need to be protected from the elements. Dress them in several layers of light clothing to keep them warm. Avoid overheating.
- The rule of thumb for babies and young children is to dress them in one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same situation.
- Blankets, quilts, pillows, sheepskins and other loose bedding may contribute to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and should be kept out of an infant’s sleeping environment. Warm footed pajamas are preferred.
- If a blanket must be used to keep a sleeping infant warm, it should be tucked in around the crib mattress so the infant’s face is less likely to become covered by bedding.
- Don’t use big bulky snowsuits if the baby is going into a car seat. Instead, dress the baby warmly, buckle them in safely, and put a blanket over the baby until they are in your heated car.
Be vigilant. Your baby will become frostbitten long before you will, partly because infants lose heat from their skin more quickly than adults do (infants have a higher percentage of skin surface compared to body weight).
If you’re carrying your baby, she’s not moving around enough to generate much body heat, either. And unless she’s old enough to talk, she can’t tell you about early symptoms, like a “pins and needles” sensation. So don’t keep her out in the cold for extended periods of time, and bundle her up for those short neighborhood walks or treks to and from the car. Avoid dressing her in clothing or boots that are too tight, because poor circulation can contribute to frostbite.
When you’re outdoors with your baby in cold weather, check her often for signs of frostnip — that telltale whitening of the skin. It usually appears first on the extremities and areas that are most exposed to wind and cold. Check her face, ears, fingers, and toes frequently, even if you think she’s wearing plenty of clothing.
Remove wet clothes (like the mittens she’s been chewing on) immediately, because moisture draws heat away from the skin. (You may want to carry an extra pair of mittens in the winter months. A pair of socks works just fine too!)
Be particularly cautious on cold, windy days: Wind makes the skin lose heat faster, which increases the risk of hypothermia and frostbite.
- Many pediatricians feel that bathing two or three times a week is enough for an infant. More frequent baths may dry out the skin, especially during the winter.
- Cold weather does not cause colds or flu. But the viruses that cause colds and flu tend to be more prevalent in the winter. Frequent hand-washing and teaching yourself and your child to sneeze or cough into their elbow and away from others may help reduce the risk of colds and flu.
- Babies and toddlers between the ages of 6 and 23 months are encouraged to get an influenza vaccine to reduce their risk of getting the flu.
- The big message is: DON’T. Don’t use cold medicines for little ones! Even though they are miserable, no research says that Pediacare, Tylenol Cold & Flu or any other OTC medicine will make it better. And with all the recalls lately, it’s better to do something else first.
- Try: Humidifier, saline drops, breastmilk.
Know that babies may have a hard time feeding when they have stuffy noses. Try the saline drops – even if you just get it near the nares (holes in the nose) and wipe it fast when the mucus is softer, your baby will feel better.
Enjoy the winter! Our little Vermonters love the outdoors, and they will enjoy snowshoeing, cross country skiing, sledding – and maybe a nice walk to get a cup of hot chocolate with you. (Well, you get the hot chocolate and walk – they just want you!)