When babies are distressed, hungry, wet or tired, they cry. If something isn’t right with their onesie, they can’t tell you about it. So you have to become something of a baby mind reader, or at least be able to decipher their cries. One of the things they might cry about is being too hot or too cold, and as the cooler weather approaches, this is something to be mindful of, whether in or out of the house.
Here are a few considerations when it comes to dressing baby for cooler weather: Babies move less than we do so their extremities (hands and feet) can be prone to being cold. Their circulation is different than that of an older child because of that lack of movement. At the same time, it doesn’t take much for their tiny bodies to become overheated.
Since they can’t tell you what’s going on with them, you need to be ready for all eventualities when it comes to dressing your baby during the cooler months.
Going out and enjoying the crisp, winter weather is fine for a baby. They can enjoy different sites and smells and the brisk air, like anyone else does. The key to ensuring that they remain comfortable, however, is to layer their clothing. By using layers, instead of one thick layer, you can easily adjust what they are wearing when you venture indoors, by removing a layer or too.
I suggest the following:
•A first layer, such as a long sleeve cotton onesie;
•A second layer designed for added warmth like fleece pants;
•A third layer for VERY cold temperatures;
•A waterproof or snowsuit layer. For infants, this could be a bunting bag in their stroller or a full snow suit for a child living in snowy territory, who might be ready to get down and sit in the white stuff!
Don’t forget, in very cold weather to layer socks as well. This is a better solution than putting heavy boots on a child who isn’t walking yet. They can be heavy and uncomfortable for the child and, ironically, if they’re too tight, can lead to cold feet. If they’re not walking, unstructured waterproof / windproof booties will do the trick nicely.
Now onto the accessories! Hats and mittens are the best, ideally with a wind protective outer shell.
TIP: For infants, get mitts without a thumb area: they are far easier to put on a wiggly baby!
Driving in winter
It’s important not to have your baby wearing coats or snowsuits in their car seat. They alters the effectiveness of the straps and in the event of an accident, might interfere with the baby’s protection. Instead, an extra blanket to put over them will help keep them toasty, or you can even buy car seat zip up covers to make sure that they’re not exposed to the elements. Just remember that as the car heats up, particularly for longer trips, you might need to adjust their coverings.
At home in winter
If your house feels cold or hot for you, it’s guaranteed that your baby will be feeling it even more. Here again, layers allow you the luxury of adding or removing clothes to suit the ambient temperature.
TIP: Give your baby one more layer than you would wear, at the same temperature.
Is baby too warm? Never check by feeling their hands and feet—remember what I said about extremities and lower circulation. Instead, feel the back of the neck. If it is sweaty, baby is too warm.
In bed in winter
To avoid the chance of your baby suffocating, baby should be put down on their back in a crib that contains no bumper pads, pillows or blankets. This, of course, is contrary to our instinct, which is to wrap up our wee bundles against the cooler night air, but alone in their crib, blankets and such can be a hazard. Over-heating the room could result in the baby getting too hot though, to say nothing of the effect on your heating bills.
According to a new update from the AAP: “Infants should sleep in the same bedroom as their parents – but on a separate surface, such as a crib or bassinet, and never on a couch, armchair or soft surface — to decrease the risks of sleep-related deaths…” So if you like your room cold, make sure you account for that when dressing baby for sleep.
How? Go back to the basic principle for dressing baby for cooler weather: Layering. I also recommend looking into getting a sleep sack. Sleep sacks are blankets that baby wears, like a little sleeping bag that is attached, like overalls. Your baby can’t slip down and suffocate and the sack creates warmth from baby’s body heat without putting them at risk from blankets.
This is one area that ends up being trial and error. Some children sleep better if they are a bit cooler. Others prefer to be as warm as they would be in a cocoon! You’ll have to try different layers and styles to see what keeps baby comfortable and still allows for overnights changes and feedings with a minimum of disruption.
Don’t hide inside all winter with baby! Dress for it! Questions about dressing your baby for the elements? Let me know!