“What do you do with a newborn in the winter?” seems to be one of the most frequently Googled questions by new moms before the chilly wind hits the town. I asked the web the same question six years ago after delivering my twins. Back then, we used to live in Denver, where temperature can go as low as -15F during January.
For “regular” people, winter is the season of snowfall and hot chocolate with toasted marshmallows. But for parents, it’s all about an arduous attempt to ward off the nefarious cold and flu viruses. My mamma bear instincts didn’t let me rest until I made sure I had everything I needed to keep my babies warm and safe.
Below is a detailed low-down of important tips and hacks that helped my twinfants survive the snow like a pro:
Keep the Germs and Viruses at Bay
Babies have a weaker immune system than adults, which makes them extremely vulnerable to viral infections. The risk is even higher for premature babies. If you are not careful enough, a common cold can quickly escalate to something as dangerous such as RSV (Respiratory Syncytial), a form of respiratory infection.
Apart from taking the basic precautions such as washing hands, sterilizing the room, and avoiding large crowds, you should also get your kid vaccinated from time to time.
Stick to the vaccination schedule without fail to keep your baby safe and healthy all year round. In case you miss a date, call your doctor immediately and get the next date ASAP.
Choose the Right Winter Clothes for Outdoors
“Dress up your little one in layered clothes so that you can adjust them easily according to the temperature,” says Molly Broder, MD, Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center. Ideally, your child should wear one extra layer of cloth than what you are wearing.
Make sure to choose flexible and breathable fabrics such as cotton, which will allow him to move freely. Finish it off with a warm jacket, mittens, socks and gloves – and off you go. The goal is to keep your little bundle of joy warm without overdressing.
Create a Warm and Cozy Indoor Environment
Babies are multiple times more susceptible to temperature changes than adults. I can’t stress enough the importance of creating a warm indoor environment if you have a newborn in the house. If you have a thermostat or portable heater installed in the nursery, keep the temperature between 68-72F during the daytime. You can modify it a little if it’s still too cold.
However, refrain from overheating the room as it can rob the indoor air of essential moisture. This would result in dry air, which can lead to headaches, blocked nasal passages, irritated sinuses, itchiness, chapped lips – and the list goes on. Do your kid a favor and set up a cool-mist humidifier in his room. Cool mist humidifiers are safer for babies than warm mist models for two reasons:
One, they are safe to touch, whereas warm mist humidifiers can get scalding hot and cause burn injuries upon touching. Two, the soothing cool vapor released by a cool-mist humidifier – along with a room heater – will help to maintain the optimal room temperature. Keeping the indoor temperature right can protect your junior from myriad viral infections and skin problems.
Skin Care Essentials
The arid wind of frosty winters is no friend to our skin. A baby’s delicate skin is naturally very susceptible to damage in such conditions. While installing a humidifier indoors can do wonders for the skin, it’s not enough.
Choose a mild, chemical-free and fragrance-free lotion for the tender skin of your munchkin. I’d specifically suggest a petroleum jelly-based cream and lotion if your baby has extremely sensitive skin.
Massage It Up
You don’t have to wait ’til winter to give your newborn or toddler a good oil massage. Massaging keeps the blood flowing in the right places, strengthens the muscles, boosts immunity and, most importantly, babies love it! Increased blood flow will naturally warm up the body from the inside, which makes it a must-have winter ritual for the youngest member of your home.
Keep Those Heavy Blankets Away
Anybody would be tempted to wrap their baby with layers of heavy blankets when it’s freezing outside. While it will definitely keep your baby warm, it’s not safe at all. Heavy blankets can constrict a baby’s body movement, which could make the baby pull the blanket up on his face. This could pose a high risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
To be on the safe side, snuggle him up in light and breathable clothing, put a light blanket on top and adjust the room temperature.
Keep Safe and Warm in the Car
Puffy coats and thick blankets are a big no-no for babies in a car seat. All those additional layers can seriously affect the grasp of the seat harness, leaving the baby dreadfully unsecured. Therefore, make sure to take her coat off while strapping your child into the car seat. If needed, put on a blanket on top of the strap and remove it once the inside of the car gets warm enough.
Surviving Baby’s First Winter
At times, even doing things to the best of your ability isn’t enough. Children fall sick all the time. If they catch a cold, use the prescribed medicines, keep them warm, well-fed and hydrated. See a doctor if their symptoms persist longer than usual.
I know it can be unnerving to watch your little one feeling unwell, but it will be okay. Don’t panic.
Amidst all these tips, don’t forget to spend quality time with your little one, and give them all the love in the world. It’s your first winter together – make it count!
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Sujana Wilson is a dynamic mother, always on the lookout for fun activities with her precious daughter and fun-loving techie husband. She is keen to share everything that she has learned on her site smilyparents.com