My first winter as a mother I had a 5 month old baby. I clearly remember fretting over whether baby was warm enough…. or was he too warm? We are an active family and I wanted to still enjoy the outdoors but always worried about how long outside was too long for my little guy? Did he need extra layers when I was wearing him close in a sling? What about when we were buggy walking, how many blankets was too many?
Well here we are now five years later and I’ll tell you, I still probably over think it as I dress my 2.5 yr old and her older brother to head outdoors. My daughter lives likes its the endless summer, I'm still trying to pack away flip flops and shorts that seem to keep reappearing! But as the leaves have turned colour and the nights longer, it is a serious subject that warrants some attention.
The baseline here is to know what is enough without being too much. Luckily it really is simpler than you think. By choosing to dress them in layers, you will be able to adjust as the day or activity progresses. It is common in first time mama literature to use the guide of dressing your baby in one layer more than what you are wearing. We often worry about baby being warm enough, but really being too warm can pose just as much of a health concern as being too cold.
When it comes tokeeping tabs on your baby’s temperature, experts recommend that the best way is to feel your baby’s belly, back, or underarm area. This will give you a more accurate read than touching their hands or feet, as their peripheral circulation is still under-development. The colour of their skin and obvious sweating are clear guides as well.
In your home, an easy way to ensure that babe stays cozy is to set the temperature just a couple of degrees higher than you would normally. This will help you avoid over bundling them, especially at night when we are not able to monitor their comfort and temperature as closely as we can through the day.
What type of clothing is best? Keeping little one’s head and feet covered will aid in regulating their body temperature, as will choosing long sleeve onesies, one piece outfits or sleep gowns. When you are choosing clothing it is best to keep with natural fibres, these will allow for breathability, wick away moisture if they are starting to overheat and are very durable. Merino wool has gained popularity with families in recent years and is a fantastic base layer for little ones.
However, we aren't going to hibernate away inside all winter. There are going to be times when venturing outside is a necessity, especially for mama’s sanity! Baby wearing is a great way to use your own natural heat to keep your babe cozy, just remember that you are doing just that, being a heat source for them! Keeping check on how warm they get while they are close will likely mean wearing less layers for baby then they do when they are in the stroller. By using the above layering advice you can choose a warmer base layer, then their “every day” items followed by an appropriate top layer. There are also many items on the market today that YOU wear in the winter while baby wearing, like fleece vests and specially designed baby wearing coats.
When baby is outdoors in their stroller, they will need the extra layer,s as opposed to when you are wearing them. This will likely need to be something that is either rain resistant and/or wind resistantlike a bunting bag, winter suit or wool one piece. By using a blanket to add the extra heat, you can keep them cozy and have the option to quickly remove it if they are too hot.
An important safety tip is to make sure that you can always see your baby. It’s a much better option to use a clear rain cover over the buggy to ward off wind and the elements than draping a blanket over top. For our climate here on Vancouver Island we don't really get into the freezing zone where you need any extra considerations. But even here, If you are outside playing or even just going for a walk, it's important to remember that baby’s tender skin is susceptible to the elements MUCH faster than our own.
Lastly I feel its critical to talk briefly about car seat safety in the winter. A major mistake that parents make is to have their baby (and toddlers) bundled in their winter coat in the car. Not only do these puffy layers create a false sense of what a snug car seat strap looks and feels like, they are also very slippery ifyou were to ever be in a high impact situation. Your baby should never have more than 2 layers between them and their buckles and straps. You can add the extra warmth after you have them fastened up by placing a blanket, their coat, or other warm layers on top. It might feel like a hassle, but ensuring your little ones safety is worth the extra minute it takes to take that outdoor layer on and off as you get in and out of your vehicle this winter.