Bundle Up because, Baby, it's Cold Outside!
Winter is leaving a footprint all over the country right now, with a polar vortex making things much colder than usual. It’s nice to go out into chilly, crisp weather for a variety of activities, but is it safe for babies? Newborn babies are more susceptible to developing hypothermia than other children, though all kids are vulnerable to icy temps. Little ones haven’t yet developed body temperature regulation. It’s fine to bring kids out into the cold, as long as safety measures are taken. The following are tips for keeping your baby safe outdoors in winter.
Dress your Baby in Layers
Adults are advised to wear three layers of loose clothing in cold weather, and the same advice applies to babies. The trick is to make sure your baby doesn’t become overheated. Since babies are prone to overheat, it’s good to have layers of warmth that can be peeled back, as needed.
Babies need to wear mittens and a hat and cover the parts most vulnerable to frostbite: Fingers, toes, ears, nose, and chin.
A disadvantage that newborns and small infants have is that they can’t shiver, and they don’t yet show obvious signs of being cold.
Note: Do not dress your baby in a winter coat when traveling in a vehicle. The straps can’t be tightened correctly with a coat, making the car seat unsafe in the event of a crash.
What to Watch For
Since babies can’t say when they’re getting too cold, parents need to keep an eye on their child. The primary dangers are that a baby might suffer from frostbite or hypothermia.
The following are signs that a baby or small child may have frostbite:
- Cold skin
- White, red, grayish-yellow, or bluish-white skin
- Stiff and clumsy
- Waxy or hard skin
Signs of hypothermia in a baby:
- Cold, bright red skin
- Loss of consciousness
- A weak pulse
- Slow, shallow breathing
- Very low energy
Hypothermia is a grave emergency. Call 9-1-1 immediately if you suspect that your child may have hypothermia.
Set a Time Limit for being Outdoors
Infants and toddlers don’t always show that they are feeling cold and uncomfortable. Rather than wait until a little one fusses and shows signs of being too cold, set a time for how long your child is outside. Since overexposure to cold temperatures is a genuine threat, it’s very important to monitor all aspects of venturing outdoors with a baby. If your little one actually does look miserable, don’t hesitate to bring him back inside, where it’s warmer.
Plan for Fun Indoor Interaction in Winter, Too
Many parents secretly dread long winters, when children need to be cooped up in the house seemingly forever. Occasional outdoor excursions do parents and kids good, with adequate protection from the cold. It will help stay-at-home parents deal with all the days of staying inside. Embrace the opportunity to read to and play with your children on cold, wintry days. Take comfort in knowing spring is not so very far around the corner.