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Take Care When Dressing Your Newborn For Cold Weather

Katlyn Joy |10, January 2015


Have you ever seen a parent with a baby in winter, head uncovered, no coat or blanket and wonder what they are thinking? Me, too! But overdressing a newborn is dangerous as well. So just how well should we bundle up baby in the winter months?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there is a very simple rule to follow. Simply dress your little one in one extra layer than you would yourself. Easy enough, isn't it?

Here is why. Babies don't have great thermostats, they just don't regulate their body temperature well. The best plan is to dress them in light layers, several of them when going outdoors so they can stay warm and dry. Also, keep their feet warm and heads covered. Mittens or gloves are a must as well.

At bedtime, you may want to snuggle baby up in blankets and covers to keep him warm. This is a SIDS risk. Instead, dress baby in a warm and toasty one piece blanket weight sleeper. Fight the urge to overdress baby, because this can increase the risk of SIDS, as well.

Should you take a newborn outdoors in winter weather? If you can avoid taking a newborn out when the temperatures dip below freezing, it's a good idea, especially in the first six weeks of life. If going out is a necessity, then take precautions such as several light layers and bundling baby up in a bunting. If you can, carry baby in a front carrier under your coat while going between vehicle and building. Just make certain baby has clearance in front of the face to breathe easily. And also, take off the extra layers once inside to avoid baby overheating.

After six weeks, and until 6 months of age, you can dress baby when going outside in a snowsuit. Skip the drawstring hood, as that is a choking hazard. Layers are ideally composed of cotton, the most breathable of fabrics.

To check and see how you are doing on keeping baby the right temp, when you come inside check baby's little toes. Are they cool but not cold? Perfect. Next, feel baby's tummy. If it's chilly, that's a sign baby is struggling to keep herself warm.

Newborn Skin in Winter

Heat rash may show up if baby gets overwarm in your bundling up efforts. This will look like little red bumps and usually appears in folds of skin like in the groin, neck folds, behind the ears and any high friction spots. To ease it, blot the areas with a teaspoon of baking soda mixed into a cup of cool water. Blot the skin with the mixture with a cotton ball or clean cloth.

Another big skin concern in winter is eczema. This is characterized as a red, dry skin rash that can be really itchy. To ease this, ask your pediatrician which lotion to apply after baths. Also, don't overbathe baby in winter. One or two a week may be enough for full tub cleansings. Spot clean, especially keeping the hands, face and diaper region clean as you go.

To help with dry skin, as well as nosebleeds, consider using a humidifier in baby's room and in the rest of the living areas. Some have cool features like sanitizers or such, so you need not worry about bacteria.

Also, keep baby's nails safely short so scratching itchy areas doesn't lead to an infection or nasty scratches on the skin.

Colds and Flu

According to the Mayo Clinic, an average baby has seven colds in the first year of life. Babies haven't built up any immunity to viruses, so it's a somewhat inevitable fact that coughs and sniffles come with the age.

However, a newborn needs to be watched more closely as they can develop a more serious illness more easily than older infants. Antibiotics can't help viruses, so you'll need to just keep baby as comfortable as possible. Suction mucus from the nose to keep breathing as easy as you can. Running that humidifier will help, too.

If baby runs a fever, consult your health care provider about what baby should take and the dose. Never give a baby or child aspirin as it can cause a serious illness. Also, never give baby more than the doctor recommends. Overdose of over the counter medications can have serious complications, such as with Tylenol and liver complications.

Related Articles

9 Clues - Allergies or the Common Cold?

Cold and Flu Survival Guide for Parents

Mom's 2014 Cold and Flu Survival Guide

Newborn Screening: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

Treating Baby's Cold or Flu at Home Safely


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