When winter arrives, it's important that you make sure your baby stays warm and dry. However, the thought of dealing with a squirmy baby wrapped in blankets can be stressful. Here are some ways to make it easy to keep your baby healthy, warm and comfortable, whether you're going to the supermarket or tucking him in at night.
How can I keep my baby warm at night without him getting too hot?
While you want to keep your baby warm and cosy at night, it's important not to let him get too warm. Overheating your baby is linked to an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), otherwise known as cot death.
It's rare for a baby's room to need heating during the night, but make sure you keep the room at a comfortable temperature. The room should be between 16 degrees C and 20 degrees C, with 18 degrees C the ideal temperature. Use a room thermometer to keep your baby's room at a safe, comfortable temperature. It should feel about right for a lightly clothed adult.
To prevent your baby overheating, keep his sleeping place away from radiators, heaters, fires, or direct sunlight. Don't put a hot water bottle or an electric blanket in his bed either.
What helps to keep him at the right temperature?
Choose a fitted sheet and layers of cotton blankets for your baby's cot, not a duvet. Keep plenty of extras on hand for changes, too.
Soft, one-piece, footed cotton sleepsuits help your baby stay warm all night by keeping him toasty from head to toe. When it's very cold in your baby's room, you could put a vest underneath his sleepsuit. Your baby does not need to wear a hat indoors or while he's asleep.
Feel your baby's tummy to see if he is getting too hot or too cold and adjust his bedding accordingly. If your baby is too hot, remove one or more blankets as needed. If your baby is cold, add a layer. Other signs that your baby may be too hot include sweating, damp hair, and heat rash.
Don't feel your baby's hands or feet to work out if he is warm enough; it is normal for them to feel cold. However, if they look blotchy or blue, you could add mittens, socks, or booties.
Remember, if your baby has a fever; he'll need less, not more, bedding.
Many parents use a baby sleeping bag that has a zip or poppers so your baby can't kick it off. This means that he cannot bury himself under the covers and he is less likely to wake up because he's feeling chilly. As sleeping bags are also sleeveless, your baby can still move his arms around while the rest of his body stays covered. Sleeping bags come in different tog ratings. For most of the year, a 2.5 tog sleeping bag is suitable
If your baby's room is colder than 16 degrees C, you could consider using a 3.5 tog sleeping bag.
Find out more about baby bedding.
What should my baby wear when we leave the house?
There's no way around it, if you're planning to head outside with your baby in tow on winter mornings, then you need an early start. You have a lot to get together, and your baby may not be too cooperative once you start putting on his third layer of clothing!
A good rule of thumb is that a young baby needs one more layer of clothing than you do. Gather any extra clothing that you need in one place, so that you can dress your baby as quickly as possible before you head out.
When it's very cold outside, a snowsuit provides a great buffer against the cold and snow. Once your baby is dressed in his outfit for the day, you can simply slip him into the snowsuit just before you go out or get out of the car.
Snowsuits have form-fitting legs and arms, and most are equipped with hoods. Look for one with a good layer of insulation, such as fleece or flannel, and a water-repellent exterior fabric.
Babies can lose a lot of heat through their heads, so always put a hat on your baby when going outside in winter. If his hands are exposed, put some gloves on them. Carry a spare pair if he tends to suck on his fingers. Make sure your baby wears socks to keep his feet toasty, too.
On freezing days, you can wrap a blanket around your baby's snowsuit if he is still cold. In a pushchair or buggy, a sheepskin liner will provide extra warmth and is highly breathable.
Remember to always remove your baby's hat and any extra layers of clothing as soon as you come indoors after being outside, even if it means waking him. Take care to do this if you go inside any shops. Many shops are kept very warm, and your baby could easily overheat.
If you've covered your baby with a blanket in the car, you should take it off once the car warms up.
Safety tip: In order to work properly in an accident, car seat straps must be snug. Make sure your baby isn't wearing clothing that's too bulky for his car seat, and don't put blankets between your baby and the straps. If your baby is in a car with the heating on, he won't need to wear extra clothing. If the car is cold, you could add a blanket on top of the harness straps instead of underneath them.
How long can my baby stay out in the cold?
Whatever the weather, it's good for you and your baby to get some fresh air every day, whether it's in a pushchair, sling, or backpack. However, if the weather is particularly bitter, you may want to keep any outdoor trips short, to prevent your baby from becoming too cold.
Your baby is unlikely to be too cold in a sling if he's dressed well as he'll be close to you, but always check on his temperature.
Just keep in mind that while you're working up a sweat pushing your baby around, your baby may get chilly before you do. How will you know when your baby's had enough though? Be aware of his behaviour. If he's happy to be out at first but starts fussing after a while, he may be trying to tell you that he's cold. It's a good idea to check his tummy, ears, and face regularly, and go inside before he gets uncomfortable.
Safety tip: If your baby gets very cold, don't try to warm his skin by rubbing it. It could make him sore. Instead, hold his skin against yours. You can tuck his hands under your armpits to warm them.
How can I keep my baby's skin from getting chapped?
The chilly wind outside and the dry heat indoors can sap moisture from adult skin, so your baby's delicate skin is especially vulnerable.
Keep your baby's skin moisturised. Many lotions and creams are made especially for babies. If you're heading outside, you could put some baby moisturising lotion or emollient on him to help prevent dry, chapped skin.
Hard water can be drying to your baby's skin , so you don't need to bath your baby every day in the winter months. Also, your baby may not like to be bathed when the room is cold. Close any windows and make sure the room is warm before you decide to bath your baby.
When you do wash your baby, use a mild baby cleanser and warm, not hot, water. Use a bath emollient if your baby has eczema or dry skin. Don't let him soak in the tub for too long. Wrap him in a towel as soon as you take him out of the water and pat, don't rub, him dry quickly. Finish by putting a mild lotion or emollient on his skin.