Winter Safety for Your Baby
Tuesday, December 17th, 2013
With the change of seasons comes new worries and fears about how to care for your baby in the cold weather. Even though this is my third baby I have raised in the winter months, I still found myself questioning the best way to keep him warm outside and inside. Here are some tips to keep your baby warm and safe while maintaining your sanity (mostly).
Because infants can overheat rather quickly, it's best to dress them in one more layer than you are wearing when bringing them outside. A bunting or snowsuit works best for outdoor explorations, but leave these off baby in the car seat. Be sure to use a hat, mittens, and footwear, as well.
Infants can get hypothermia if exposed to the cold elements for too long, because they have very little subcutaneous fat and a decreased ability to shiver. The rule of thumb is that if you are uncomfortable and cold outside, so are they. A baby has hypothermia when his or her body temperature falls below 95 degrees F. Signs of mild hypothermia include limpness, refusal to eat, unusual quietness, and cold skin. If you suspect your baby has hypothermia, get him or her to a warm place and warm your baby up with your body heat, blankets, and a warm drink, then seek medical attention immediately.
Frostbite occurs when the skin and outer tissues become frozen. It typically occurs in the fingers, toes, ears, and nose. Some fo the signs that your baby has frostbite are that your baby's skin looks pale, gray, and blistered. If you suspect your baby has frostbite, place him or her in warm water (not hot). Do not rub their frozen skin. Again, seek medical attention immediately. The best way to prevent hypothermia in your baby is to avoid extremely cold temperatures.
As a mom who is always on the go, keeping my baby warm and safe during my daily routines is important. The use of a winter coat, snowsuit, bunting, or infant sleeping bag is unsafe in a car seat. The bulkiness from these products interferes with how tightly your child is strapped into the car seat, protecting him or her from injury during a car accident. A safer option is to use a blanket over the car seat belt. If you live in an extremely cold climate, the car seat poncho is convenient and safe for the car seat. It's a must-have winter product for any busy mom with a baby.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding the use of soft blankets when putting your baby to bed, due to the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Instead, dress your baby in a one-piece pajama outfit and use a wearable blanket such as a sleep sack. Another way to keep baby warm at night is to use a flannel fitted sheet.
What's your best tip to keeping your baby warm on winter outings?