One of the most common challenges faced by all mothers is to keep their little ones cozy and warm during the cold winter days. In the winter season, especially when it’s freezing outside, it becomes really difficult for babies to regulate their body temperature, which makes them more vulnerable to cough, cold and flu.
Thus, it’s very important for you to be knowledgeable about how you can help your baby maintain consistent body temperature during the wintertime, especially the nights. Read on to know what you should do to keep your infant warm and comfy in those frigid winter nights.
It’s safer not to use any loose or thick bedding in your baby’s crib, at least for the first year. That is because too much bedding, or the wrong kind of bedding, can cause accidental suffocation and overheat, which are believed to be a risk factor for sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS.
A skullcap and pyjamas with feet are good choices. In general, layered clothing for sleep is practical, in case you need to remove or add a layer. “Wearable blankets” or sleep sacks that won’t get tangled can also help keep your baby cozy.
Contrary to what you might think, babies don’t need more bundling up than adults. As a general guide, your baby will be comfortable using about the same amount of clothing and coverings that you would be comfortable using at the same room temperature. Ideal room temperature for your baby is around 70 to 72 degrees F.
You can use a space heater in a chilly room, but make sure it’s fireproof. And remember that once your baby starts to be more mobile — once she starts crawling, for example — a space heater can pose a burn risk. To warm cold sheets, place a hot water bottle or a heating pad in the bed for a while before bedtime. (The microwaveable type is useful because it doesn’t have to be plugged in.) Just be sure to remove it before putting your baby down!
Here are some simple ways to tell whether your baby is warm enough: If her skin is blotchy and her arms and legs are cool, and her cheek feels cool to the touch, add a layer or cover her head (with a hat) and feet. On the other hand, if your baby is damp or sweating, it’s a sign that she’s over-bundled and moisture is accumulating on her skin. Too much moisture can lead to prickly heat, even in the winter, so take a layer off or change your baby’s clothes so more air can flow over her skin.
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Keeping your baby warm at night
When putting a baby down to sleep, it is tempting to want to wrap them up, so they are snuggled deeply inside layers of blankets for a cosy night’s sleep. However, babies under nine months are not able to control their body temperature at all, and it is very important that they do not get too hot. Overheating is thought to be one of the major causes of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
There are key factors to bear in mind when keeping your baby warm at night:
A baby’s room should be between 16-20°, with 18° being the ideal temperature. This would feel comfortable to a lightly clothed adult, though a room thermometer is the best way to be sure.
A good option for dressing your baby is a cotton all-in-one with feet attached to keep toes warm. Some sleepsuits also have fold-over mittens which come in handy during colder nights. If your baby’s room is at the colder end of the scale, you could put a vest underneath. Look out for clothes which limit the amount of skin you have to expose during a nappy change and are easy to change if there’s a nappy disaster!
Use a fitted cotton sheet and layers of cotton blankets to keep your baby warm in bed. You can add or remove layers of blankets depending on if your baby is too hot or too cold. Alternatively, you may choose to buy a baby sleeping bag or sleep-sack. These have the benefit of keeping a baby covered up, no matter how wriggly or squirmy they might be in bed. They allow the baby’s arms to stick out, unrestricted, so are a good option for babies who don’t like being swaddled. Bags with a 2.5 tog rating should be plenty, but you can get thicker ones for very cold rooms. Some mothers prefer a sleep-sack because it removes the decision of how many blankets might be needed.
How to tell if your baby is too hot or cold
To check if your baby is too cold or too hot, feel their tummy. If the tummy is cold to touch, you could add a vest or if it is hot to touch, remove blankets as necessary. Avoid using hands or feet as a guide because babies’ circulation is not as good as adults’, and it is normal that fingers and toes feel much colder than other parts of their body. If hands and feet look blue or blotchy, you can add socks/mittens as an extra layer of warmth.
Is there anything I shouldn’t do?
The key here is to avoid overheating due to the risks associated with SIDS (cot death).
- Don’t put a hat on your baby in bed (or anywhere indoors): A baby loses excess heat through its head. Covering it up could lead to overheating.
- Avoid duvets: Duvets can suffocate infants under one year old as they can’t move them away from their faces. Duvets can also lead to overheating.
- Don’t use a hot water bottle or an electric blanket: As comforting as they may be to an adult on a cold winter’s night, remember that adults can regulate their temperature: children can’t do this until they are around two years old when their ability to sweat and shiver is fully developed.
- Don’t put your baby to sleep next to a fire/radiator/ any heat source: This could lead to a nasty burn and, again, this could cause overheating.
Baby, it’s cold outside…
Keeping your winter wardrobe up to date and in working order for trips out with the pram is tricky enough, so do you also need to go out and buy a whole set of baby winter clothes when the weather turns?
If you’re heading out for some crisp fresh air with your little one, then the rule of thumb is that babies need one more layer of clothing than you do. This means bracing yourself for a marathon ‘getting ready’ session before heading out in the morning. A great way to avoid too much of a grumble from your little one is to get them dressed in their winter outfit then slip them into a snowsuit just as you’re leaving. Aim for a suit with a good layer of insulation, with feet attached and possibly mittens too.
Unlike inside, a hat is key when venturing out in the cold. As well as framing their face for some adorable photos, it stops heat escaping from the top of the head – a major heat-loss zone for children.
Mittens or gloves will help to keep the chill off little fingers and, even if a snowsuit has feet attached, keep your baby’s socks on too.
Is my baby getting cold?
In some Scandanavian countries, children are left outside in their prams for their naps, wheel-deep in snow, to kill off winter bugs…so rest assured as long as your baby is properly dressed they will be fine outside for a while.
To make sure they do stay warm enough, take an extra blanket with you and a footmuff to keep the wind off. You may want to invest in a sheepskin liner in the pram for extra warmth. It’s certainly very cosy but is not essential unless you live somewhere particularly cold or are going to be outside for a very long time.
Remember that you are keeping warm by walking around, but if your baby is in a pram it will not be moving, so will get cold before you do. If you are carrying your baby in a sling, it will benefit from the heat coming off your body.
Is my baby over or underdressed?
Your baby is too hot if:
- Its face is flushed
- The back of its neck is hot and clammy
- It has a bumpy rash on its tummy or back
Your baby is too cold if:
- Its tummy Is cool to touch
- Its nose or fingertips are much paler
- Its lips and mouth area are going blue
- How to prevent chapping
The wind can be as cruel as the cold during the winter, so to try and avoid chapped faces you could rub a baby moisturiser or emollient cream into lips, cheeks and any other exposed parts before heading out. Shorter, tepid baths will also help to stop skin drying out.
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A few vital pointers for the colder weather
- As soon as you get in from a trip outside, take off your baby’s hat and outer layer of clothing, even if this means waking them up. They could very quickly get too hot otherwise.
- Shops tend to pump up their heating when it’s chilly, so even if you’re popping in for a pint of milk, take off your baby’s hat and any extra blankets.
- If you’re using a blanket in the car, you should take it off as soon as the car warms up enough for you to feel comfortable. Put the blanket over the top of car seat straps, as trying to tuck it under the straps may mean the straps aren’t safely tightened. Some baby sleeping bags are designed to work in a car seat, so if your car is very chilly, this could be a solution!
- If your baby does get too cold, as tempting as it is, don’t rub their skin to warm them up as this could hurt them. It’s better to hold them next to you and put their hands under your armpits. That way, they can benefit from the heat of your body.
Safe Ways To Keep Your Newborn Warm While They Sleep
Dress Your Baby Right
In the winter, the best way to keep your little one warm during sleep is by dressing him in ‘easy to put on and remove’ layers. Instead of overloading your baby with heavy or woollen clothes, wear him a few thin layers of warm clothes that you could easily remove during diaper changes. A good rule of thumb is to dress your baby in one more layer than you.
Set the Room Temperature Right
To make sure your newborn feels neither too hot nor too cold, try keeping his room at a comfortable temperature of between18 to 20 degree Celsius. Use a room thermometer to check whether or not your baby’s room stays at a safe, comfortable temperature. Ideally, the room temperature should feel cozy to a lightly clothed adult.
Swaddle or Use a Sleeping Bag
Sometimes, when the weather is too cold, dressing your infant in one-piece suits is not enough to keep him warm. To provide your baby with a comfortable, restful sleep in those freezing nights, you’re required to wrap him in a thick swaddling blanket. In case your little one kicks the blankets off very often, you can put him into a sleeping bag (also known as a wearable blanket) to sleep.
Keep the Wind off of Baby
The position of your baby’s crib in the room also affects how comfortable he will feel during sleep. Place the crib or bassinet several feet away from air vents, drafty windows, fans and outside walls. Also, close any windows and doors to prevent cold air from entering the room.
Use a Firm Mattress
To keep your baby’s crib warm from the underside, use a firm baby mattress covered with a well-fitting waterproof mattress protector sheet. Mattresses made of too soft material not only put your little one at the risk of a smothering hazard but also increase his chances of getting sick due to the cold air entered into the mattress. So it’s better to avoid them.
Cover Your Baby’s Head and Hands
As babies lose a lot of heat through their head and hands, it becomes really important to get hold of a soft baby cap and lightweight mittens to provide your little one with an extra layer of warmth. In case your baby is a thumb sucker by nature, you can have an extra pair of mittens ready. Furthermore, you can keep his feet toasty using a pair of socks.
Preheat the Crib Before Putting Your Baby Down
If you find there is too much cold in the house, you can consider preheating the crib to create a warm and cozy sleeping space for your child. In order to achieve the purpose, you need to place a hot water bottle or heating pad over the crib sheet at least 30 minutes before you put your little one to sleep in the crib. Most importantly, remove it before laying your baby down to avoid any overheating or burns.
It is dangerous for an infant to overheat at night. For example, the bedroom typically should be kept cool – sometimes recommended at around 18C (between 16 and 20 degrees Celsius, or between ) and parents should make sure that their baby is not overdressed or sweating. Parents also worry about their baby getting too cold. This can be assessed by touching the baby’s skin (for instance, on the head and hands). For an adult, it is easy to add a blanket in order to keep warm at night; however, this is not advisable for an infant, who could become tangled in the blankets with a related suffocation risk.
Instead of adding blankets, add a layer of clothing. For example, you may want to consider whether your baby may benefit from a wearing vest under his or her baby-grow or pyjamas. You may prefer to put your baby in a baby-grow/onesie with feet when it is cold, but without at warmer times of the year.
When infants are a little older (about six months or older) some parents like the use of baby sleeping bags (or, safe sleep sacks) which can fasten in a way to help avoid the baby slipping down at night. These come in different ‘togs’ (a unit of measurement used to calculate thermal resistance, or warmth)– and it is important to make sure that you select a sleeping bag/sleep sack that is appropriate given the ambient temperature and the temperature of your baby. It is best to use a reputable brand and always to check the safety information that comes with such products before using them with your child.
My Baby Nursery has a wide range of baby cot nursery blankets to choose from.
What helps to keep him at the right temperature?
Choose a fitted sheet and layers of cotton blankets for your baby’s cot, not a duvet. Keep plenty of extras on hand for changes, too.
Soft, one-piece, footed cotton sleepsuits help your baby stay warm all night by keeping him toasty from head to toe. When it’s very cold in your baby’s room, you could put a vest underneath his sleepsuit. Your baby does not need to wear a hat indoors or while he’s asleep.
Feel your baby’s tummy to see if he is getting too hot or too cold, and adjust his bedding accordingly. If your baby is too hot, remove one or more blankets as needed. If your baby is cold, add a layer. Other signs that your baby may be too hot include sweating, damp hair, and heat rash.
Don’t feel your baby’s hands or feet to work out if he is warm enough; it is normal for them to feel cold. However, if their palms look blotchy or bluish, you could add mittens, socks, or booties.
Remember, if your baby has a fever; he’ll need less, not more, bedding.
Many parents use a baby sleeping bag that has a zip or poppers so your baby can’t kick it off. This means that he cannot bury himself under the covers and he is less likely to wake up because he’s feeling chilly. As sleeping bags are also sleeveless, your baby can still move his arms around while the rest of his body stays covered. Sleeping bags come in different tog ratings. For most of the year, a 2.5 tog sleeping bag is suitable.