It’s a magical time of year… yet still, also a season that sees even the most laid-back of new parents preoccupied with planning around the weather and others’ germs, among other relevant winter concerns.
A FEW BASIC BABY CARE TIPS FOR WINTER MONTHS:
First, resist the urge to overdress your baby as babies can overheat quite easily. If you have a newborn, it’s a good idea to cozy up indoors as you recover from pregnancy and birth. Keep your dwelling a moderate temperature that does not require socks and mittens.
Spending lots of skin-to-skin time together inside helps regulate baby’s temperature better than thick layers of fabric. If you suspect your baby is a little chilly, don’t rub his skin as this may hurt him; instead bundle up together skin-to-skin.
When bringing a baby outside, you can dress reasonably for the weather and have your baby match (add a layer for a newborn/young baby). For example, if a snow cap and pair of mittens is necessary for your comfort then baby gets them too. If you’re in Texas like me and it’s 73 degrees, there’s no need to wrap your baby in snowstorm-ready gear.
Remember, babies lose most of their heat through their heads, so adding a cap is a quick and easy way to make an icy baby feel toasty.
Remember, it’s normal for a baby’s hands and feet to feel cold even in the climate-controlled indoors. That said, mittens and booties may be in order for cold, wet conditions. Babies love to suck on their hands so be sure to pack an extra pair to keep him dry.
Be sure to remove extra layers when re-entering the indoors!
Bulky winter coats should NOT be worn in a carseat. This decreases the safety of the entire seat system. When baby is inside the car, remove his or her coat, buckle up, and tuck a blanket over his or her body until the car warms up, at which point it can be removed.
If your baby is older, remember daily outdoor time is important for him or her to thrive. Make a point to get fresh air and sunshine daily, even if excursions must be kept short.
Skip heavy blankets as these are a suffocation risk. Avoid piling thick clothes on baby at night as this can make him quite uncomfortable, can possibly result in fever dreams, and raises the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, also known as cot death). Breathable fabrics like cotton and muslin can protect from overheating. A snug-fitting outfit should be sufficient to keep baby warm.
Further prevent overheating by keeping baby’s sleep area away from heat sources like radiators, heaters, fireplaces, electric blankets, direct sunlight, and hot water bottles.
Babywearing is especially helpful when out in the elements.
Learn some basic infant massage techniques, which help with blood circulation. Use a pure massage oil (unscented or with infant-safe essential oils) and make sure the room is a comfortable temperature.
Avoid drying out baby’s skin with overuse of soaps and shampoos and too-frequent bathing (especially if you have hard water). A natural lotion or cream can be applied to baby’s skin to keep it healthy, moisturized, and protect against chapping.
If you’re breastfeeding, continue! Breast milk has antibodies to keep your little one’s immunity in optimal shape. Having the opportunity to cuddle up close will help your baby feel warm and relaxed. Winter is not ideal for weaning a young baby, so if you can delay it, do so.
Up your own daily vitamin dose of C and D as well as zinc to strengthen your immune system, as well as boost what’s passed along to your baby in breast milk. Take extra precautions to protect your family’s health this time of year if you aren’t already: avoid secondhand smoke, wash your hands frequently with soap and water, minimize stress, and don’t share toothbrushes.
Get familiar with the more common viruses in winter and how to spot them. Be able to recognize symptoms for illnesses like influenza, croup, respiratory viruses, and bronchiolitis.