Keeping Your Baby Through the Winter
Adapted from the BabyCenter article ''How to Keep Your Baby Warm All Winter" and JOHNSON'S® Skin Maturation Study.
There's no way around it - if you're planning to head out the door on winter mornings with your baby in tow, you'll need an early start. You have a lot to assemble, and your baby may not be the most cooperative once you start putting on that third layer. Here are some things you can use to speed up the process and make it easier for both of you.
Easy-on, easy-off outer layers. A snowsuit or bunting provides a great buffer against the cold and snow. Once your baby is dressed in his outfit for the day, you can simply slip him into the snowsuit or bunting just before you head out the door or get out of the car. Snowsuits have form-fitting legs and arms, and most are equipped with hoods, while buntings are more like little sleeping bags, with a seam between the legs to make stroller snap-ins easier. Look for gear with a good layer of insulation and a water-repellent exterior fabric such as fleece, flannel, or fiberfill.
Didn't your mother always tell you that most body heat escapes through the head? It's true. So always put a hat on your baby before going outdoors in the winter. If his hands are exposed, pull some mittens on them. (If he sucks on his hands, though, keep an extra pair or two handy - once they get wet they'll make him colder rather than warmer.) Make sure your baby has very warm socks or booties on, too.
On frigid days, you can wrap a blanket around the bunting or snowsuit. Don't use a slippery blanket, though, or he may just slide out of your arms. Also handy to have are blankets designed to attach to a stroller or car seat with VELCRO® fasteners so they can't slip off.
Another option is to dress your baby in warm, layered clothing and then wrap him in a cotton receiving blanket. Top it off with another, heavier blanket (one made of wool or fleece will work well). A good rule of thumb is that your baby needs one more layer of clothing than you do.
Once you're indoors - even if it's just for a stop at the supermarket - take at least one layer off your baby so he won't perspire. Otherwise, the dampness will make him colder when you get back out in the winter air. And if you've covered your baby with a blanket in the car, you'll want to take it off once the car warms up.
Safety tip: In order to work properly in a crash, car seat straps must be snug - so make sure your baby isn't wearing clothing that's too bulky in the car seat, and don't put blankets between your baby and the straps. Instead, dress him in clothes that allow the straps to go between his legs, adjust the straps to allow for the thickness of his clothes, and pile blankets or other bulky layers on top of the harness straps instead of under them.
How to Keep Your Baby's Skin From Getting Too Dry
Especially in cold-winter areas, the chill wind outside and dry heat indoors can sap moisture from the hardiest of skins - and your baby's delicate skin is especially vulnerable. New fundamental research on baby skin has found that baby skin is immature so it absorbs and loses moisture at a faster rate. To keep your baby's skin moisturized, use a gentle lotion designed specifically for your baby's delicate skin, such as JOHNSON'S® Baby Lotion. It helps lock in moisture and protects your baby's skin from dryness, which is especially important during the winter months. Make it a habit to apply moisturizing lotion often during the colder months, and especially before you're heading outdoors with your baby. If you're finding that your own skin is getting a bit dry, try using a mild, allergy tested lotion on yourself.
Use a gentle, soap-free, dye-free, hypoallergenic baby cleanser, such as JOHNSON'S® HEAD-TO-TOE® Baby Wash, when bathing your baby at home. Do not use regular soap, as soap can be drying to your baby's skin. As your baby grows, you can also try JOHNSON'S® Moisture Care Baby Wash, enriched with baby lotion. It's formulated to moisturize your baby's skin while it cleanses. When you wash your baby, use warm, never hot, water. Don't let him soak in the tub too long and try not to overdo the number of baths you give him in the wintertime. Wrap him in a hooded baby towel as soon as you take him out of the water and pat (don't rub) him dry quickly. Put a mild baby lotion, such as JOHNSON'S® Baby Lotion, on his skin, and then bundle him up and give him a good cuddle.
Tip: If the house is very dry, you might consider putting a cool-mist humidifier in the room where your baby sleeps to help keep his nasal passages moist.
How Long Can My Baby Stay Out in the Cold
As long as the weather isn't too unfriendly, it's good for your baby to get some fresh air every day, whether it's in a stroller, carrier, or backpack. Just keep in mind that while you're working up a sweat exercising, your baby is just sitting in the cold - and he'll get chilly well before you do. But how will you know when he's had enough?
Be sensitive to your baby's nonverbal signals. If he's happy to be out at first but starts fussing after a while, he may be trying to tell you that he's cold. It's a good idea to check his little fingers, toes, ears, and face regularly, and to head inside before he gets uncomfortable.
Safety tip: Even the winter sun can damage skin. If your baby is under six months old, try to keep him out of the direct sun. Follow your pediatrician's advice about applying sunscreen to your baby. And when choosing a product, choose one that's designed especially for babies. Sunglasses are a good idea, too.
For more information on wintertime and your baby,visit babycenter.com.