Congratulations on your new baby! As a new parent, we always want to make sure our baby is the safest. We want to ensure we are doing everything right. It is often overwhelming to know how to keep our baby warm, but not too warm – and how to know what’s the safest way to do this, especially when we hear about all the rules and recommendations around sleep, swaddles, blankets, car seats, snowsuits, temperatures, and safety!
If we aren’t supposed to use loose blankets at night and we aren’t supposed to put our baby in a car seat with a snowsuit, then how do we keep them warm?
This is a question I get asked a lot in my newborn care classes. So, here are a few tips to keep your baby warm this winter season:
The recommendation is that babies should not have loose blankets in bed with them to reduce the risk of airflow and suffocation concerns. So as parents, we need to think of other ways to ensure our baby is warm enough at night.
Remember the “one layer more than you” rule. It’s recommended that your baby is in one additional layer than an average adult. However, keep in mind that you are using a comforter to sleep under when you are considering the number of layers for your baby. Since we are encouraged not to use a loose blanket in bed with our little ones, we need to consider utilizing a safe swaddle blanket or sleep sack to help you add a layer to your baby for warmth. You can also consider using a flannel sheet for additional warmth.
When we are considering what to dress our baby in for the night, we can include a onesie undershirt if the room is cooler and a footed sleeper to help them stay warm as well. If you notice that your baby has cold feet when you change their diaper at night, despite the footed sleeper, you can add socks – this will also help them stay warmer. You might also want to consider using a little hat for your newborn in the first few weeks after birth. Babies lose their heat from their head, so keeping their head covered can help them stay warm as well.
The recommendation for room temperature is between 20 to 21 degrees Celcius to keep your baby as comfortable as possible. So, consider your space – do you have an older house that keeps cooler, especially in the winter months? If so, then you want to keep this in mind when planning for accommodations to ensure your baby’s warmth. Keeping them away from any draft or cooler air flow and utilizing the above tips will help you keep your baby warm.
An important note: If your baby has flushed cheeks, red ears or appears sweaty (especially on the nape of their neck) then you know that you have over dressed them. Although babies do not like to be cold, they also do not like to be too hot. So be sure to try and find just the right balance with all these options to get your baby to the perfect temperature at night.
When heading outside, first you (of course) want to consider the temperature outside. If it’s below freezing, consider the necessity of the activity, the length of your activity, and if your baby will be dressed warmly enough.
You will then want to consider the layers you need for your baby. Depending on the temperature outside, you’ll have to plan for the layers that will keep them warm. Adding a snowsuit, bunting bag or additional blankets can help them stay warm. Also, you will want to make sure that they have a warm hat and mitts.
Consider that your baby will become cold before you do. If you’re walking, you are moving and sweating. Meanwhile, they’re sitting in their stroller or car seat. They will become cold much sooner than you. Be sure to check their face, hands, and feet to make sure they are continuing to be warm enough for your adventure. A great way to help them stay warm is to wear them if possible. Utilizing a baby carrier and having them next to you can ensure that they’re able to use your body heat to help them stay warm, too.
When planning for how to keep your baby warm outside, be sure to also consider air flow quality. You do not want to cover their face with any heavy blankets. You should also not cover their stroller with any plastic cover that will restrict their air flow. Always use breathable materials to ensure their safety.
Using blankets made specifically for your car seat or stroller that attach away from the baby is also a great addition to help keep wind off the baby and allow them to stay warmer.
Important note: When placing your baby in a car seat, for safety reasons, it is essential that you do not layer them up in bulky clothing (coats, etc.) when securely fastened in the car seat. Doing so is unsafe because you must loosen the straps to accommodate these bulky layers, which will then make a space between your baby and the harness of the car seat. This increases the chance of injury in the case of an accident. Dress your baby warmly in safe, thin layers of clothing and then use specially designed, car seat-safe blankets on top of them once they are securely fastened into their car seat.
Rest assured, parents, that there are effective ways to keep your baby warm and safe both in your home and when you venture outside! Keep these tips in mind, and you can feel good about putting your baby to bed, traveling in the winter months, or even getting out in the fresh air for a good adventure.
Happy wintering, everyone!
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