It can be so hard knowing what to dress your new bundle of joy in for that first winter. The weather, especially in New Zealand can be so changeable - they don’t say there can be four seasons in a day for no reason! So, what do we dress our little ones in to keep them cosy without over heating them. What temperature should their room be? How many blankets are really needed? What weight/material should the blankets be?
An easy way to think of clothing is to just add an extra layer more than you are wearing. During winter a baby will often be in a vest/singlet and then have a top, trousers and a jumper/cardigan on, plus socks and booties to keep those little toes warm. You can check their temperature by feeling the back of their neck, but if you have particularly cold hands perhaps get your partner/friend to do it, otherwise bub’s may be a bit grumpy!
If going out a baby will need a hat on as they tend not to have much hair and also will not be moving around like we will. Most heat loss comes from your head. They will also need a warm jacket (you can get all-in-ones – snow suits) and mittens, but lots of jackets come with built in mittens.
Going out in the car
It is very important that when you take your baby out in the car, that you remove their coat/snow suit before you put them in their capsule or car seat (this includes older children). Seat belts do not work properly if you are wearing a padded jacket and therefore your child will not be protected if the car is involved in an accident. So how do you keep baby warm? Put them in the car seat, strap them in, once inserted correctly into the car you can place a blanket on baby’s lap. Please ensure it is tucked in though, so they can't pull it over their face.
Be aware of what you are wearing in the car and ensure baby is similar so that they don’t overheat.
Out in the pushchair
We have already spoken a little about taking our baby outside. In a pushchair we may just want to think about their feet and hands. They can get very cold very quickly as babies’ circulatory system isn’t as good. This means hands and feet, fingers and toes can get cold. Make sure you put socks on your baby even if they are wearing an all in one with feet attached. I would also recommend putting on soft booties to ensure they’re cosy – I’m sure your mum or grandma will be more than happy to help you out J Put mittens on your babies’ hands again regardless to whether the jacket or all in one has built in covers. You can just use a pair of socks to go over their hands as well. Layers are beneficial, so it doesn’t necessarily have to be thick.
I would then put a blanket over baby to keep them warm. However, if it’s a particularly windy day or there’s an icy breeze put the rain cover over the pram to keep the wind off the baby. It is however important to remember that this will turn their pram into a little cocoon and so it is of paramount importance that you keep checking on your baby to make sure they don’t get too hot – it can act a bit like a sauna! Also remember that if you go into shops or a mall, you will need to take a layer off them - perhaps just their hat and blanket but keep checking to make sure they are okay.
Putting to bed
Baby will need to wear a vest and pyjamas (all-in-one baby grow is the best in winter to keep toes warm). Sleeping bags/sacks are very convenient for ensuring that baby is not going to wriggle out from under blankets. You can get sleeping bags with different tog ratings, but if you want to be economical buy a standard weight one and just add an extra blanket or two if needed. It is hard to know how many blankets baby needs, and it really is a case of checking. I recommend starting with less and increase if baby is cold – check the back of their neck. Remember it is safer for baby to be slightly cooler than too hot. Do not put baby to bed with anything covering their head and always ensure blankets are tightly tucked in so that baby can’t pull them over their face. Also follow the rule ‘feet to the foot of the cot’ so that they don’t wriggle under the blankets. Ideal room temperature is 18 degrees centigrade, but as long as the room is between 16 – 22 it should be fine.
All parents tend to worry about getting the temperature right, but none of us are perfect and it’s a bit of trial and error initially.
· It’s important to remember it is safer to keep a baby slightly cooler than hotter. A hot baby will be grumpy and unsettled but is more likely to be at risk from SUDI (Sudden Unexplained Infant Death).
· Babies should be in one more layer than you as a general rule of thumb.
· Put a hat on them when going out and take some layers off when going into shops (this may just be their blanket).
· Unless baby is asleep they are generally going to let you know if they are uncomfortable.
Stay warm peeps and let’s hope it’s not too harsh a winter.