Baby’s First Winter: Practical Tips for New Parents

Becoming a new parent at any time of the year comes with challenges, and the wintertime is no exception.  While some parents may prefer to cozy up for the cold winter months with their newborn, others may get a little bit stir crazy and want to get out of the house to be around others.  No matter which type of person you are, here are some practical tips for a baby’s first winter.

Tip #1: Thick winter coats are not safe in a car seat.

While you may be worried about your baby becoming cold when traveling in the car, it is not a good idea to strap them in with their coat on.  Winter coats can compress in a vehicle accident, creating lots of slack in the harness and reducing the safety of your car seat (Summer Winter.pdf (pa.gov)).  It would be better to dress your child in warm clothing and place a blanket over their car seat.  For older children, you can secure them into their car seat, and then turn the coat around to put on backwards with their arms in the sleeves and the back of the coat acting like a blanket.

Tip # 2: Consider baby wearing, and be careful with your stroller.

If you prefer to go on walks, consider dressing your baby in warm clothing and wearing them in a carrier to help them stay warm.  If the temperature is below freezing outside, it’s probably best to avoid long walks and to keep your trips outdoors very brief.  Your baby is unable to regulate his or her temperature in the same way that an older child can, so you want to make sure not to expose them to too cold of temperatures for an extended period.  When using a stroller, you should make sure to dress your baby in winter clothing (hats, gloves, etc.) and cover him or her with a blanket.  However, just make sure that you are allowing for proper air circulation for your baby, and avoid walking into the wind if possible.

Tip #3: Keep your indoor temperature just right.

You may be wondering if you should turn up your indoor heat to keep your baby warm.  However, indoor heating systems typically have low humidity, and the lack of moisture can dry out your baby’s soft and delicate skin.  A good temperature to keep your home at during the day is between 68-72 degrees, and you can lower that to 65-68 degrees at night.  You can use a wearable blanket for your baby while he or she sleeps to keep them warm.  Baby’s First Winter: How Protect Newborns in Cold Weather (parents.com)

Tip #4: Know the warning signs.

Unsure if your baby is too warm or too cold? If you’re worried that your baby is too warm, check to see if he or she is uncomfortable.  If your baby’s face is red, skin is warm, and they’re fussy-  they might be overheated.  You can take a layer off of your baby, offer breastmilk or a bottle, and sponge bathe them with warm water if needed.  If your baby still seems to be too warm, call your pediatrician.  On the other hand, if your baby is fussy and feels cool to the touch-  they are probably too cold.  You can bundle up your baby and keep them close.  If your baby does not seem to be warming up-  you can again call your pediatrician.

Tip #5: Preventing dry skin.

You might have noticed your own skin becoming dry in the colder temperatures, and this is no different for your baby.  In fact, a newborn’s skin barrier is thinner and weaker than older children’s, making them more susceptible to dry, itchy, and scaly skin.  It’s important to know that baby’s do not need baths every day, and that daily baths can actually dry out your baby’s skin.  Most experts suggest bathing your child every 3 days, and only keeping them in the water for 5 minutes. (Winter Care for Newborn Babies – Happiest Baby.)  Apply a good moisturizer after their bath, and reapply as often as you’d like!  There are lots of moisturizers to choose from, but finding one without fragrance and a lot of extra ingredients would be the best option for your baby.

Tip #6: Keeping your baby healthy.

The best thing that you can do to keep the winter germs away from your baby is to stay away from those who are sick. Baby’s immune systems are still developing, and it’s important to take extra precautions with infants under 3 months of age, as they are more likely to develop complications even from a common cold.  If your baby shows signs of being sick, it is recommended you call your pediatrician for medical advice.  Other precautions you can take would be:
– Wash your hands often and ask others to wash their hands before handling your baby.
– Breastfeed if possible, to help your baby receive antibodies from your milk.
– Avoid large crowds if possible.
– Create boundaries with others.  It’s ok to ask that others do not kiss your baby this time of year.

Don’t let your worries and fears keep you inside all winter.  Sunlight and fresh air are good for both you and your baby to enjoy when you can.  If you want to learn more about caring for your baby, contact us and ask about our parenting classes.  We would love to walk with you in your parenthood journey.

 

Written by: Shannon Martin