Even though the harsh winter cold is not due for another couple of months, the cold winds of October remind that it is about time to start preparing your child for winter.
Freezing temperatures and chilly breezes can affect your baby's health in numerous ways so it is essential to start thinking about prepping for the season as soon as possible.
In this article, we are concentrating more on toddlers and children below the age of 3 but that doesn't mean these tips wouldn't apply to older children – safety is number one priority for any family and therefore feel free to use these ideas even if your child is in middle school.
What should a baby wear in winter?
Babies don't regulate their body temperature like older kids and that's the main point you should be aware of – the younger they are, the more prone they are to health issues related to cold. The main golden rule here is: dress your baby in one layer more than you dress yourself.
Though toddlers body is not so good in regulating body temperature, it doesn't mean the regulation is non-existent, therefore you shouldn't go nuts with dressing your baby in 10 different warm sweaters. Actually, it is recommended that you should dress an infant with just one light layer of clothing more than you wear – so don't pile the sweaters.
Overdressing might seem harmless but it can actually cause several problems. The main issue is the body temperature being unable to escape the body due to the excessive material layers, hence the body temperature increases unnecessarily.
Understandably you'd like to bundle the baby with adorable scarves, sweaters, mittens, and jackets, but in reality, overdressing may lead to serious consequences.
Extra tip: If you are afraid the baby is overheated, undress them for a few minutes and take the temperature. A nice simple way to feel the temperature is to touch the belly or back as well since infants' head or feet are not the best indicators of the body temperature.
The main rule to follow is to keep the head and feet covered. Use a soft hat with a cap that covers ears completely. The best one is a hat that you can fasten under the chin so it won't fall off and will protect the head safely at all times.
Baby's skin protection
Baby's sensitive skin is prone to various skin problems during winter, including heat rash or eczema. The heat rash is once again a potential result of over bundling a baby with clothes but it can occur due to dry air and. Make sure your home is equipped with a humidifier so the air is not dry.
Don't forget to keep the baby's skin moisturized as well – there are plenty of creams that are meant specifically for the baby's skin. Soap and water, on the other hand, can cause extra dryness which together with the already harsh air outside can cause redness and other skin problems.
Use a mild soap and warm water, don't let the baby stay in the water too long – in winter, you'd need to make sure you are not overdoing. After a bath put some lotion on the skin and that's that!
Extra tip: Don't forget sunscreen – the wintery sun is actually even harsher than in summer so you'd want to make sure the baby's skin is out of the sun and the parts that are exposed like the cheeks have some sunscreen dabbed on.
How long can an infant stay outdoors during winter?
The answer to this question is somewhat personal since babies are different and the timeframe that might be good for some babies might not suit others.
However, don't avoid going for a walk even on colder days – fresh air is good for you and the baby, as long as you keep in mind some essential things:
- If you are playing outside and the child gets sweaty, make sure they don't cool down suddenly and sit outside in the cold for long, otherwise, they will get chilly.
- Read your baby's signs. If they are cold, they will probably start fussing and will let you know somehow they are not feeling good outside.
- If the child stayed out too long and it seems like they are feeling too chilly, don't rub the skin! Instead, put some warm water on the hands or just hold them in your arms for a while. However, if the skin looks frost-nipped: yellowish, waxy or in some other ways unusual, contact a doctor immediately!
- If you are outside with a stroller, make sure your winter stroller has strong covers that protect from snow and wind.
- When looking for winter clothes, use fabrics that are water repellent and good insulators: like lycra or silk. Cotton is not a good choice as it absorbs moisture and remains damp so if your child gets sweaty, the fabric will absorb the moisture and your child gets chilly outside.
If you keep in mind these few simple pointers, you should be fine and can enjoy winter safely. Pack your fridge with healthy vitamin-packed foods, ensure the air at your house is nicely humid, use skin protection products and don't overdress – you'll be good to go when winter comes!