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Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Dressing Your Baby for Winter

Figuring out the proper way to dress your newborn is certainly a learning process, but in the chilly winter months, you may be more concerned about the best accessories to keep your baby cozy and warm. Whether you’re venturing out into the cold with your infant in tow or just hanging out indoors on a snowy night, it’s important to make sure you’re taking the proper precautions to keep him or her at a comfortable temperature. Although babies have soft, newborn skin, even they are susceptible to dry skin during the dry, cold winter, so adding a humidifier or applying baby-safe lotion may be necessary at times as well. For some guidance on the best way to dress baby this winter, follow these tips.

Purchase Plenty of Warm Baby Caps
Though hats are often not necessary if your baby is staying inside, when heading out with your infant in tow, you’ll always want to keep his or her head covered. People have long believed the myth that we lose most of our body heat through our head, which is not exactly true, but researchers do agree that we can lose somewhere between seven to 10 percent of our body heat from our head. Because babies are not yet masters at regulating their own body temperature, they give off heat quicker than adults, making it extremely important to find a snug, warm cap for their head.

Invest in Mittens
Mittens are another must-have item when dressing your baby for winter. Both our hands and feet contain blood vessels that significantly impact how our bodies regulate our temperature. Losing heat from your hands and feet can greatly alter your internal body temperature, particularly for a newborn baby. Even if you’re only going from the house to the car, you should outfit your baby with a fuzzy pair of mittens to make sure he or she isn’t at risk of becoming too cold, especially if you live in a region where the temperatures can drop drastically in the winter.

Find Thick Socks and Shoes
As with mittens, socks and shoes help to protect those blood vessels in our feet that can quickly cool our body down if exposed to low temperatures. Keep your baby equipped with thick socks while indoors and outdoors to prevent his or her body temperature from dropping, and if you plan to travel, add shoes over the socks to help keep the body heat in. Babies are known to be fidgety, and you may be astonished to find that your child is constantly maneuvering their own socks off even with their limited range of mobility. If you’re concerned that your infant will be able to remove their socks while on an outdoor adventure, try purchasing wiggle-proof socks that are designed to prevent babies from squirming their toes out.

Wrap in a Soft Blanket
When your infant is first born, you should be stocked with plenty of warm blankets to wrap and swaddle your baby. Keeping him or her tucked in a soft but light blanket while inside can help maintain body temperature, but be careful not to overdress while staying in to avoid overheating. If you’re taking your baby out somewhere, always bring a blanket with you and wrap it around him or her in the car. First, you’ll want to remove any bulky outer layers, like jackets, to make sure the baby car seat is securely snug around their body and then wrap the blanket around them to keep in their body heat. You should purchase a variety of both flannel, cotton and fleece blankets as these materials are the best at capturing heat. Flannel and cotton provide a bit more breathability, so these blankets are ideal when covering baby up inside.

Dress in Layers
Dressing a baby for the winter weather is much like dressing yourself—layers are key. Start with a basic t-shirt or long-sleeved onesie and then add socks, footed pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Cover them with a sweater or an infant-sized jacket to ensure baby’s body heat stays at a normal level. Fleece is an excellent material to trap body heat and keep your baby cozy during your outdoor excursion or car ride. Parents magazine advises new parents to follow the advice of many experts, who claim that you should always try to dress your baby in one more layer than you would wear yourself.

Don’t Overdress While Inside
As mentioned, you should take special care to not overdress your infant when you’re planning to just stay indoors for the night. Many new parents are concerned that they’re not keeping the baby warm enough inside, but too many articles of clothing could lead to overheating and other dangerous conditions. Although researchers are still not completely sure what causes SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), the National Institute of Health warns that overheating could increase the chance of SIDS. Though it’s tempting to add blankets to your baby’s crib at night, avoid doing so to ensure that your baby’s body temperature remains at a normal level. In the winter months, your biggest concern should be how to dress baby when going outside because indoor heat is typically enough to keep him or her warm.

Keep Your Baby Warm With Your Own Body Heat
If you’re planning to take your baby somewhere that involves being outside or exposed to colder-than-usual temperatures, you can also provide him or her with extra heat by simply holding them with a body carrier. Whether you’re taking a walk around the neighborhood, attending an outdoor winter event or playing with your older children in the snow, a baby carrier is an excellent way to keep your infant warm. You can even safety pin a blanket around the sides to prevent body heat from escaping while you warm your baby with your own body.

Put Flannel Sheets in the Crib

At night, swapping out cotton sheets for flannel is a good way to ensure your newborn is warm enough at night without overdressing. Flannel captures and contains heat well, so it’s the perfect material for nighttime. You can purchase a matching sheet to wrap baby in for just a little extra warmth during the coldest period of the year, but it’s not recommended that you put your baby to sleep while wrapped in a blanket. Simply a flannel bed sheet, a long-sleeved onesie and a sleeping outfit should be enough to keep your newborn cozy and warm all night long.

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