Winter time is upon us and many new parents have questions about how to care for their baby during this season. Hopefully we can help answer a lot of the common questions:
1. How do I dress my baby for winter?
If going outside, layer clothing instead of dressing in bulky clothes for warmth. Make sure to have footwear, mittens (socks can be used as mittens if needed) and a hat. Do not use a bulky snowsuit in a car seat. Snowsuits are fine for spending time outdoors, but are unsafe for use in car seats. The thickness of snowsuits does not allow the straps of a car seat to be tight enough. Your baby may slip loose or fall out of the car seat if there is an accident. Instead use a blanket to go over the baby or a car seat cover to block the cold wind.
If you’re planning on staying indoors, have your baby wear one more layer than you are currently wearing inside. When your baby sleeps, don’t have extra blankets, pillows or bedding in the crib. If you need to have a blanket, there are specialty baby swaddlers or sleep sacks that a baby can sleep in. Be careful not to over-bundle your baby. Eliminating loose bedding and avoiding overheating your baby will decrease the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
2. Can my baby get frostbite or hypothermia?
Yes, a baby can get frostbite with prolonged cold exposure. Make sure to give your baby a break from the cold. If you are uncomfortable or cold, they are uncomfortable and cold as well. Frostbite happens when the skin and outer tissues become frozen, most commonly in fingers, toes, ears and nose. Keep an eye on your baby’s skin, it may look pale, gray, and blistered. Prevention is best, but if you suspect frostbite put frostbitten parts in warm (not hot) water. Do NOT rub frozen areas.
Hypothermia may occur when your baby’s body temperature falls below normal. It can occur more quickly in children than in adults. Your baby may become lethargic. Look for fatigue or unusual behavior. Get medical attention as soon as possible for either hypothermia or frostbite.
3. Can my baby get sick from the cold?
Your baby won’t catch a cold or the flu from being cold, but the viruses that tend to cause colds and flu are more common during the winter. People are more likely to stay indoors in close contact with other people. More germs are spread easily. Frequent hand washing is your best defense.
4. What else should I know?
Babies can have very dry skin during the winter. Try to limit baths to once every two or three days. Use soaps and lotions that are for sensitive skin and designed for babies. Remember that you can still get a sun burn in the winter. Limit sun exposure and use sunscreen that is specially made for babies.
For baby care, contact a local pediatrician.