Your baby can’t tell you when he’s cold or hot. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get outside in the winter. Use this expert advice to dress your little one for winter weather.
1. Dress baby in multiple thin layers.
Young babies and infants are more susceptible to changes in body temperature than children and teenagers, says James Feinstein, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Colorado and assistant professor of pediatrics at University of Colorado School of Medicine. Not only can they get too cold, they can also get too warm quickly. Multiple layers allow parents to easily add or remove clothes to fit the situation.
2. Start with a soft, moisture-wicking base layer.
“Wet skin is the enemy in the cold,” says Feinstein. Specialty synthetic or merino wool blend base layers are available for babies, but a cotton onesie should work just fine. “The most important aspect of the base layer is that it is breathable and allows moisture to escape,” says Feinstein. “Special wicking material is reasonable, but not necessary.”
3. Next layer: regular clothing.
For time around the house in the winter, add a layer of clothing over the base layer. This could be a simple fleece jumper or top and pants. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ rule of thumb is to dress baby in one more layer of clothing than you are wearing.
4. Add a heavier layer for the outdoors.
Everyone gets cabin fever in the winter, and with a baby you may feel even more stuck. But it’s OK to take baby outside. If the temperature drops below freezing, babies shouldn’t be out in the cold for long periods of time. Walking back and forth to the car is safe, but add a heavier layer, such as a bunting.
5. Keep extra blankets in the car.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that baby’s clothing layers should be close and tight fitting when riding in a car seat. A coat that is too big or puffy may interfere with the car seat’s ability to work properly. If you need to remove a bulky layer for the car, says Feinstein, add a blanket over baby after he’s buckled in. The same principle applies for riding in a stroller.
6. Be vigilant outside.
If it is one of those sunny Colorado winter days in the 40s or 50s, you are in good shape to get baby outside with you for outdoor activities. Use the layer system to dress baby and keep an eye on her comfort. “If you are out for a while, check on your baby every 15 minutes,” says Feinstein. If baby is shivering, pale, or irritable, these are signs she is too cold. Add a layer. If he is sweating, he is too warm, so remove one layer. Feinstein is a father of a two-year-old and a five-year-old, and his family likes to be active outside all year. “We have tested every type of layer out there,” he says. “My final piece of advice: Make sure layers are accessible and can be removed or replaced easily if you are out walking or at the park. Otherwise, it can be really difficult to change a diaper on the go.”