For new mothers who have to consider a baby's first winter to protect infants from the cold. You'll probably be a little crazy with your little one.
But it's important that you get out whenever you can. "Babies and new parents need fresh air,” says NYC pediatrician Erika Landau, MD, co-author of The Essential Guide to Baby's First Year. "Unless it's dangerously cold, outdoors helping infants acclimate to the seasons and the day-and-night cycle, and it often calms fussiness."

Despite this, new parents are required to comply with security measures. Once the temperature drops below the freezing point, you should not take your baby out, except for quick trips to and from the car. Even beyond the freezing point, wind chill can make it dangerous. "Newborns and infants do not yet have the ability to regulate their core temperature by themselves,” says Janice Montague, MD, Tuxedo Pediatrics in Suffern, NY. She recommends limiting the exposure to the cold elements to a few minutes at a time and saving play in the snow for when kids are older. 

"Infants lose heat faster than adults, and the younger their age, the less able they are to cope with cold," adds Kate Puttgen, M.D., a pediatric
dermatologist practicing at Intermountain Healthcare in Taylorsville, Utah. "Small babies lack the ability to increase heat by shivering and don't have the body fat needed to warm back up once they get cold."

Here are some great ways to keep your baby warm and secure this winter.

Dress your baby in layers.

"If you are comfortable with a jacket on top of your clothes, you should have your baby in a jacket or snowsuit and a blanket," says Molly Broder, M.D., a pediatrician at the Children's Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York. Dressing your baby in layers allows you to adapt to its needs. "The bottom layer can be snugs, like leggings and a bodysuit. In addition to this, you can put on another layer of pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Finish off with a warm jacket, hat, mitts, and booties to keep hands and feet warm,” says Dr. Broder. Choose breathable fabrics like cotton and chiffon so you can take clothes on and off as needed.

Ditch the coat in the car.

Taking off your baby's coat in the car may seem counterintuitive. But the problem with that cute puffy coat is if there's too much material between the baby and the car seat straps, the material could compress during an accident, leaving space for your baby to become unsecured. "Coats are unsafe because you need to loosen the car seat harness in order to accommodate them, but in a crash they can compress, leaving a big gap between the harness and child, upping her chance of injury,” explains Rallie McAllister, M.D., of Lexington, Kentucky, coauthor of The Mommy M.D. Guide for the first year of your baby.

Instead, click your infant in the car seat first, and then diaper. "If you're using a car seat cover, you should buy one that doesn't come between the baby and the car seat—it should be over the lower part of the baby, like a blanket," says Dr. Broder. "Alternatively, you can use a blanket or coat (placed on top), and then remove it once the car warms up so the baby doesn't get overheated." You can also pre-warm the car to keep your baby cozy.

If the temperature or wind chill dips below freezing, or if nonfreezing temperatures are mixed with wind or rain, keep your little one inside except for brief excursions, like to and from the car. If it's not the Arctic in the open air, dress it up with a winter jacket, a hat that covers its ears, mittens, and a stroller or bunting blanket. "Check the signs of discomfort in your baby frequently. If its face becomes red, its skin is hot, and it is difficult, it is probably overheated. If it is difficult and has watery eyes, and its skin is cold to the touch, it is probably not sufficiently wrapped,” says Dr. McAllister.

Wear your baby for warmth.

Transporters are a great way to use your body heat to provide extra comfort to a baby in cold weather, but it probably doesn't need that extra sweater. Even so, "always keep the head and feet covered because that's how they lose heat," says Dr. Montague. As always when you're wearing your baby, make sure his face is not pressed against your chest or clothing (especially when you're donning a winter jacket) to keep his airway free. "And be careful of ice and slipping and falling yourself," adds Dr. Montague.

Photo by Kyle Nieber on Unsplash

Be careful when covering your baby's stroller.

In an abundance of prudence, you can throw a blanket over your baby's stroller, or protect it with these old-fashioned plastic blankets. But Dr. Montague warns that it could compromise the airflow towards your baby inside. "Many strollers are equipped with covers specially adapted to this brand to allow good air circulation," suggests Dr. Broder. "Otherwise, put your baby in a jacket, hat, mittens, and booties, and then tuck her under a blanket to chest level to keep her warm and snuggly in the stroller." If you can, try to walk against the wind.

Keep the indoor temperature right.

You may be concerned about the baby being too cold, but too much inner warmth can also be a problem. "Indoor heating has low humidity, and this lack of moisture in the air can dry your baby's delicate skin,” says Dr. Puttgen. "To avoid that, keep your indoor temperature as cool as you can tolerate during the day—anywhere between 68°F and 72°F." When your little one is sleeping, however, you should set the thermostat lower, to between 65°F and 68°F, which will not only benefit her skin but can reduce her risk of SIDS, research shows. Dress your baby in a sleeper and sleep sack— a wearable blanket—to keep her warm enough.

Watch out for warning signs.

If your baby starts to shiver, or if their extremities—hands, feet, and face—are cold and red, or have become pale and hard, bring them inside immediately. "You should not rub the cold area to reconnect it, as this could further damage the cold skin,” says Dr. Broder. Instead, use warm washcloths to gently warm your skin, then put on warm, dry clothes. If it fails to improve in a few minutes, call your doctor. Other signs that your baby has gotten too cold and requires medical care are lethargy, non-responsibility, and blue lips or face.

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