There’s an old song lyric that goes:
Button up your overcoat
When the wind is free
Take good care of yourself
You belong to me…
That’s some great advice, but it may not be enough for new parents to know just how to dress their babes and toddlers for the winter months ahead. Babies and toddler’s young bodies are not able to regulate temperatures as well as adults or older kids, and therefore they are more susceptible to cold.
There’s much more to protective baby dress in winter than simply throwing a baby jacket over a warm onesie and calling it a day. In fact, dressing a baby for the coldest temperatures requires extra planning and extra time, as well as special attention to cold hands, faces, and feet. But, take heart, as Scandinavian moms say, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.”
The key is layering. Layers provide excellent insulation and can be added to or removed in order to find the right comfort level. Babies should have at least as many layers as their parents. A thin onesie, then a few long-sleeved shirts and pants, then a sweater or a sweatshirt, and coat or a snowsuit is a good start, according to Dr. Alison Mitzner, a board-certified pediatrician. Don’t forget the feet — if footie pajamas are called for, socks under footie PJs are better.
“Always have gloves or mittens, hat, and boots,” advises Mitzner. “Every child — and adult — needs a hat in the winter weather. You lose a good percentage of your body heat from the head.” For babies, with their ginormous noggins, this is especially true.
When it’s time to travel, building in a little extra time into the schedule can keep the process from being overwhelming. Taking the time to warm up the car, if possible, helps keep kids warm. So does stashing the car seat carrier inside when not in use. But blankets are absolutely indispensable.
However, when traveling, “Keep the bulky snowsuits or big coats off and put them on after you reach your destination,” suggests Mitzner. “Keep a blanket with you to put over the buckle and harness if you need added layers — not underneath.” To be effective in a crash, the harness straps of a car seat need to fit snugly; a bulky garment such as a coat or a snowsuit can reduce the efficacy of the car seat, and in case there’s an accident on icy roads, that can mean serious injury — or worse. Hat, gloves, and boots can stay on.
Finally, on any winter outing, make sure to bring additional clothes, hats, mittens, and socks. Since wet cotton doesn’t insulate worth a damn, one poorly-fastened diaper or wet blowout can quickly turn all those layers into liabilities.
Do you have any other tips you would like to share on how to keep babies warm in winter weather? Please reply using the comments below.