From snow and sparkling lights to hot cocoa and cute, cozy onesies, winter is a magical time — especially with a newborn — but it can be stressful for new parents.
After all, keeping your baby safe in the cold is tricky. That said, it is not impossible. There are dozens of ways to protect your little one this winter.
Can I take my baby outside in the cold?
The short answer is yes: Babies can go outside in the winter. However, trips should be limited — in distance and duration — because babies aren’t able to regulate their body temperature yet.
Newborns, toddlers, and young children also lack body fat and have smaller body size, this means that they can lose heat more quickly than adults.
The tips here’s avoid temperatures below -15 degrees Fahrenheit. Always check the wind speed and wind chill. Keep outdoor trips limited to 15 minutes or less, and know the warning signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Keep an eye out for shaking, shivering, and/or red or grayish-colored skin.
On the other side, you should also check on your child regularly to make sure they are not too hot, as overheating can result in a rash, discomfort
What should babies wear in the winter?
What your baby should wear in the winter depends on where they are and what they will be doing. If, for example, your baby will be staying inside, a long sleeve sleeper should suffice. However, the general rule of thumb is that your baby should wear the same thing you would comfortably wear, plus one layer.
Clothes for the house
As mentioned, if your baby is staying inside and if the house is warm, one layer is, in most cases, sufficient, though you may want to add socks and/or cotton mittens to keep their extremities warm.
Consider the temperature inside your house and adjust their clothing as needed. If your heater is blasting, they may be happy in just a onesie or shirt. But if you’re wearing flannel pajamas and a warm blanket to stay toasty with the heater on low, they might do better with a thicker, footed pajama on top of a onesie.
Clothes for the snow and/or a stroller
If your baby will be in their stroller and/or the snow for a prolonged period of time, you want to make sure they are as comfortable as they can be.
Several, thin layers will keep them warm and dry. A hat can (and will) protect their head, and waterproof snowsuits and coats are a good option if your baby will be exposed to the elements. Gloves, socks, and booties are also recommended.
Stroller covers can also be purchased; however, you will want to be mindful of how insulted said cover is. If it keeps the stroller warm, you may want to remove some layers of clothing to avoid overheating.
Clothes for the car
Dressing your child for their car seat may seem tricky. It’s recommended to avoid snowsuits and winter coats when your baby is strapped in.
The reason for this is car seat safety. When the snowsuit or coat is worn in the seat, the straps cannot be fitted closely to your baby’s body. In the event of an accident the coat could compress, and your child could slip out of the looser straps, suffering serious injury.
Choose thin, close-fitting layers, like tights and/or leggings instead of that bulky coat. Add pants and a warmer top, like a sweater or fleece shirt, and don’t forget socks, hats, booties, and mittens.
Once the baby is secured in their seat, place a coat or blanket over the straps instead of between your baby and the straps. You can always adjust for comfort once your baby is safely buckled into the warm car.
Clothes for bedtime
When it comes to bedtime, erring on the side of caution is best. The truth is, babies sleep better when they’re cooler. It also reduces their risk of SIDS.
Footed pajamas are a good choice, as are bodysuits. Swaddles and sleep sacks can be used for younger babies if the room is on the cool side and/or if your baby prefers the comfort of a swaddle.
However, remember blankets should not be used before 12 months of age.
Important to watch out for warning signs
If your baby starts shivering, or his extremities—hands, feet and face—are cold and red, or have turned pale and hard, bring him inside right away. “You shouldn’t rub the cold area to rewarm it, as this could further damage the cold skin,” says Dr. Broder. Instead, use warm washcloths to gently reheat the skin, then put on warm and dry clothes. If he doesn’t improve in a few minutes, call your doctor. Other signs that your infant has gotten too cold and needs medical attention are lethargy, non-responsiveness, and blue lips or face.