How To Keep Babies Warm During The Winter
Keeping babies warm during the cold winter months can be tricky. Safety is the utmost priority with little ones who cannot yet regulate their body temperature. Learn how to keep your baby warm during days out in the crisp fresh air, or outings on cold winter nights, all while making sure your little one is safe and secure!
Babies love that warm, cozy feeling that reminds them of the mother's womb. Since infants cannot regulate their body temperature as well as kids and adults, parents might find it difficult to keep their baby warm during the cooler winter months. From protecting your baby's delicate skin, to making sure your house is at an optimum indoor temperature, to keeping track of safe sleep guidelines that reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), here is the ultimate guide for helping young babies stay warm this winter.
Babies, especially newborns, cannot regulate their body heat.
Babies cannot adjust to temperature changes as well as adults, making them prone to losing body heat rapidly - almost 4 times faster than an adult would! Premature or low birthweight infants also don't have as much body fat, making them more susceptible to difficult with temperature regulation.
When an infant gets too cold, he has to use energy and oxygen to stay warm. Keeping baby warm during cold weather can help them hold onto their energy reserves, keeping them healthy and comfortable.
How to keep your baby warm during crisp, chilly days:
One good rule for keeping babies warm during cooler months is to dress them in one extra layer compared to what you are wearing. For instance, if you're comfortable in a long sleeve shirt and pants, dress baby in a long sleeve shirt with a onesie underneath, or put a vest or jacket over the shirt. If you're wearing a pair of boots, dress baby in a pair of warm socks and booties or shoes. Most babies will be comfortable and warm by adding one extra layer to their outfits.
When it comes to staying warm, accessories matter. Babies can wear mittens, gloves, boots, booties, socks, hats, and jackets that help them stay warm. Be sure that none of these items are a suffocation or overheating risk. Babies should not wear a hat at night.
If your baby is in the stroller, bring a thick, bulky blanket to drape over their lap, bring warm clothes and a hat, and consider using a car seat cover to keep cold air from blowing in your baby's face.
Dry winter air can soak up the moisture from your baby's delicate skin, causing their skin to dry up fast or cause itching, chapping, or a bumpy rash. Protect your baby's skin by shielding them from harsh wind and cold, and also keeping them away from very warm air blowing directly at them.
The importance of babywearing during the winter:
Babywearing can be helpful during cooler weather, using baby carriers such as the KeaBabies Wrap Carrier, an adjustable cloth baby carrier that can help keep your little one safe and snug against your body. Your little one won't suffer from cold skin while they're snuggled up against you in this soft, breathable baby carrier suitable for newborns through toddlers. The baby wrap provides extra warmth and mimics the womb with its snug and cozy environment, allowing optimal developmental growth for your baby even during cold weather.
The KeaBabies Wrap Carrier comes in 21 colors and is a one-size-fits-all style, comfortable for small to plus-size parents. The wrap carrier gives the parent enough support to ease back pain, typical of holding babies for long periods. It also allows for hands-free bonding! The baby wrap carrier can be used for newborns over 7 pounds and toddlers up t0 35 pounds, making it a versatile parenting tool that can be used for years.
Sometimes, it's best to just switch to an indoor activity.
If you're out enjoying a winter day but notice your baby seems uncomfortably cold, it might be time to head inside. Babies can't regulate their body heat as well as adults, and although all those fun winter activities can be a great way to create families memories during this time of year, infants might not be able to comfortably enjoy these activities for long periods of time. Your baby's safety and comfort are a priority!
How to keep your baby warm on cold winter nights:
Infant sleep can fluctuate a lot during the first year, but it is important that babies sleep in a safe, comfortable environment. Winter can make for some colder nights that might interrupt your baby's restful sleep. Keeping babies warm at night can help them stay healthy and be less susceptible to illness.
Help keep your baby's core temperature at an optimal level by dressing them in warm pajamas (fleece is a nice war material for cold winter days), swaddling, or using a wearable blanket for babies that are too old to be swaddled. Keep your baby warm at night by using the heater, but make sure your little one doesn't overheat. Keep windows closed and fans off during the colder months. The baby's room should feel comfortable for a normally-dressed adult.
You can also help keep your baby warm at night by preheating the crib or bassinet before putting your baby to sleep. Use a heating pad or hot water bottle to warm the mattress before placing the baby (on their back) to sleep. Remove these items before putting the baby to bed to avoid overheating and burns.
How to keep your baby warm in the car:
Many parents don't realize that it is unsafe to put their baby in the car seat with bulky winter coats on. Although thin layers are acceptable to wear in the car to help stay warm, bulky jackets can move the car seat straps to an unsafe position against your baby's body and increase their risk of injury in a car accident.
Keeping your baby warm in the car during cold winter months can be tricky, but parents can try a few tricks to help keep their little one comfortable and safe. First, parents can store the infant car seat in the house when not in use, keeping it out of the freezing car until it is time to leave. Parents can dress their baby in thin layers (tights, leggings, bodysuits, sweaters, thermal shirts, long underwear) that aren't bulky. Babies can wear accessories such as hats, mittens, and socks in the car seat. Parents should always check the car seat straps to make sure they aren't too loose or too tight (do the "pinch test"). They can use a coat or blanket over the straps as an extra layer. Keep the windows rolled up to prevent wind chill. Parents might opt to spend a few minutes waiting as the car warms up before going out in the cold weather also.
How to keep your baby warm during sleep:
Following safe sleep guidelines for infants is a priority for parents. Besides wanting to ensure that your baby doesn't get uncomfortably cold during nighttime sleep, parents should also make safety a priority. Infants under the age of 1 are at risk for sudden infant death syndrome, and overheating might be a risk factor for SIDS.
Before worrying about your baby's temperature, always be sure to follow the basic guidelines for safe sleep. Infants should sleep in a crib or bassinet, on a firm mattress, with no loose blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, or other objects. Keep your baby's crib away from other furniture, wall fixtures, electrical cables, and space heaters. Keep your baby warm by using a sleep sack or warm clothes.
A sleep sack goes over the baby's outfit to keep them warm, but allows their arms to be free. Most sleep sacks have zip closures and are easy to use for middle-of-the-night diaper changes. A sleep sack can help trap your baby's body heat, without constricting them or becoming a suffocation hazard like loose blankets and sheets.
Instead of using extra blankets, keep your baby warm by using a quality infant sleeping bag or sleep sack like the KeaBabies Soothe Sleep Sack, a lightweight, temperature-regulating 0.5 TOG sleep sack that is gentle on all skin types. It features adjustable snaps that grow with your baby, a full zipper guard to protect baby's skin, and comes in three sizes (0-6 months, 6-18 months, 18-24 months). These sleep sacks are soft, breathable, and machine-washable, making them a must-have for all parents! Sleep sacks also give babies that secure feeling similar to swaddling.
Make sure your baby's sleep area is free from loose objects.
Although blankets might seem important for keeping your baby warm during the winter, they are not safe for infants sleep. New parents should be careful to keep the baby's sleep area free from all loose objects, including blankets (even lightweight ones), pillows, stuffed animals, and toys. Although it might be tempting to throw in an extra blanket, opt for a sleep sack instead.
Make sure that your baby's feet are covered.
You will probably often notice that your baby's extremities get cold easily. His little fingers and toes might seem like they're always freezing! One simple way to help keep your baby at a comfortable temperature is to keep their feet covered at night. Use footie pajamas, sleepers with fold-over cuffs at the feet, or put on socks at night during the winter months.
Invest in a room thermometer or monitor with a temperature gauge.
Keeping track of the temperature of your baby's nursery can be helpful as well. Many baby monitors have a temperature gauge, or parents can buy a room thermometer. The recommendation is for babies' rooms to be between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit at night. You don't want your baby to be too hot or too cold. Keeping the baby's room at an ideal temperature during the winter can help reduce the risk of SIDS.
Dress baby in an additional layer of clothing.
If you notice that your baby seems uncomfortably cold at night, dress them in an additional layer of clothing. Add a lightweight onesie underneath their pajamas, start using a sleep sack over the pajamas, or put on socks under the baby's pajamas. Choose breathable fabrics that keep your baby from getting cold, but prevent overheating.
Watch for warning signs of overheating.
Since babies cannot regulate their body temperature, they are more prone to overheating, which is a dangerous risk factor for SIDS. Be sure to watch out for these warning signs that your baby is too hot:
When the baby feels very warm to the touch
When the baby is irritable
When the baby looks unwell in general
When the baby looks flushed or red
When the baby seems overly tired or listless
When the baby's heart rate is fast
Keeping your baby warm should not come at the cost of putting them in an unsafe environment that causes them to become too warm.
Keeping your baby warm during the winter can be tricky, but your little one's safety and comfort are of utmost importance.
Since babies are just as prone to being too hot as they are being too cold, parents should be careful not to overdress their baby, even during cold weather. Simply adding an extra layer or two can help keep your infant warm during cooler months. Parents and their little ones can still enjoy a wide variety of activities this time of year, despite the colder weather.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Kaitlyn Torrez
I’m Kaitlyn Torrez, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I live with my husband and two children, Roman and Logan. I’m a former preschool teacher, currently enjoying being a stay at home mom. I love all things writing, coffee, and chocolate. In my free time, I enjoy reading, blogging, and working out.