This is a guest post by Jennifer Taylor of MomTricks.
I can distinctly remember how worried I was during our first winter with our son Alex.
I’m not typically a worrier, but I did have a lot of irrational fears about taking care of him properly. I often found myself wondering how to get through the cold months without him getting sick, and about how we were going to deal with the super-cold days we were sure to face.
At one point I considered hibernating like squirrels all winter, but that’s not exactly realistic. And I don’t like nuts that much.
And we couldn’t exactly pack everything up and head to South America for the winter!
The truth of the matter is that winter with an infant doesn’t have to be a big deal…as long as you’re properly prepared for it. I unfortunately wasn’t, but that’s why I’m here: so you can learn from what I learned along the way.
This way you can be better prepared for winter with an infant than I was!
Layers, layers, layers.
The most obvious issue in the winter is keeping warm.
Teeny tiny babies are so much more sensitive to the cold than we are, and therefore we have to pay much more close attention to keeping them bundled up and warm. Everyone knows that layers are the key to staying warm in winter, and that also applies to babies!
The general rule of thumb is this: Give them one more layer than you have on yourself. If you’re wearing 3 layers—a shirt, a sweater and a coat—do the same for them, but add another layer in there somewhere. Maybe a onesie underneath it all.
Layers help trap the heat in, making things much more cozy and warm during those cold winter outings.
Also, have as little exposed skin as possible: frost bite comes quickly on tiny fingers and toes.
Keeping cozy during bedtime.
Night time is another story. We’re not supposed to use blankets in cribs—not only are they a suffocation hazard, but overheating is also known to be a factor in SIDS.
Because of this, you need to layer up more to compensate for not being able to use a blanket. I personally like onesie pajamas that cover the whole body and feet. Sleep sacks are also an idea that work well.
Again, layers are the easiest way, because you can easily add or remove them according to the temperature in the room.
Dealing with the dry winter air.
The one thing I believe most parents miss out on when setting up their nursery is a humidifier.
Why, you ask?
Well, the winter air can be extremely dry, and that makes it not only uncomfortable and itchy, but it also means that it’s easier to catch a nasty bug and get sick.
A humidifier is the way to combat this, and they’re something all nurseries should have. Plus, they’re not very expensive: you can get a pretty decent one for about $50.
Get a cool mist humidifier, not a warm mist model. The reason for this is that warm mist humidifiers can be hot to the touch, and that’s an obvious hazard when there’s a little one in the room.
Head and shoulders, tummy and toes.
Want to find out if your little one is dressed properly? Use what I like to call the “tummy and toes trick.”
What you do is this:
When you come inside from the cold, touch your child’s toes and tummy. From the way they feel, you can get a good idea of whether or not they’re too cold or hot.
If their toes feel cold, they probably need more clothing. They should be cool, but not cold. Conversely, their tummy should be warm. If it’s not, they likely need another layer of clothing.
© Maksim Bukovski/Dollar Photo Club
Comfy and cozy car cruises.
You really need to be careful when you go for a drive with your little one in the winter. All of those extra layers and bulky clothes can be dangerous when they’re strapped into a car seat, and if you’re using a blanket, it should be outside of the straps, not inside. Remember, safety first!
Keeping lips in tip top shape.
There’s nothing worse than dry, chapped lips, and young children are very susceptible to them. When you combine the ever-running noses and drool, you have a recipe for chapped lips.
The easy way to deal with chapped lips is to get them a good, baby-safe lip balm. Look for one that moisturizes, to not only repair the damage that has been done, but also to protect against them getting even more chapped.
When the winter takes its toll on skin.
If you notice that your little one’s face is getting red when out in the cold, it’s a common thing that happens due to the friction from the wind, drool and clothing rubbing up against the skin.
But it’s something that can be avoided with a moisturizer—just apply it gently and lightly to any areas that are exposed. The cheeks are usually the most affected part, and a thin layer there will work wonders.
You might also notice it showing up in areas like the inner elbow. Again, a little application of moisturizer there will do the trick.
Sunscreen in the winter?
Sun protection is just as important in the winter as it is in the summer! This might come as a surprise to you, but it’s true. The sun is damaging no matter what time of the year it is, and sunburns can happen even when it’s below freezing.
Get a good baby-safe sunscreen and apply it to areas that will be exposed to the sun. Children that get five or more sunburns increase their chances of developing melanoma by up to 80%, so this is nothing to take lightly.
Sorting out the sniffles.
Oh boy, colds are the worst. It’s so gut-wrenchingly heartbreaking to watch your little one struggle with a cold, being all stuffed up and unable to do anything about it.
Think about how miserable you feel when you have a cold, and imagine how they must feel.
However, there’s an amazing way to get their little sinuses cleared out: Nosefrida the Snotsucker (affiliate link). Yes, it sounds gross, but it works really, really well.
It’s basically a long plastic tube with a filter in the middle. You place one end in your child’s nose, and you put the other end in your mouth, and suck. It gets rid of all of the boogies, and no, they don’t go in your mouth – they’re caught in the filter, which can be washed in the sink.
You can also use saline drops to help clear them up. You can find them at any drugstore, and you just use a drop or two in the nostrils, which helps clear out the dried-up mucus, letting them breathe much more easily.
Be sure to keep an eye on their temperature to make sure they’re not actually sick. Get yourself a good thermometer and check their temperature often. If they have a fever, go to the doctor immediately.
Summing it up.
I really hope that this guide makes winter much easier on you and your little ones! Please let me know if you have any questions or comments!
What’s your biggest winter struggle with your kids?
Jennifer Taylor is a coffee-addict, part-time blogger and full-time mama of two wonderful kids. You can find her blog at MomTricks, where she would love for you to stop by and say hello!
3 responses to “How to Survive Winter With an Infant”
no no no no no never ever ever ever ever add anything to the car seat that was not approved by the manufacturer (which is nothing except what comes with the seat). ESPECIALLY when it comes to putting more room between your baby and the seat belts.
TIPS for keeping warm in the seat: putting blankets, as you said, OVER the top. putting on a coat BACKWARDS (this includes for older children as well) again OVER the seat belts.
But i repeat NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER add material to the car seat. ever. ever. ever.
heres a list that has some really safe options. and reasons why putting a liner under baby is a bad idea.
and some more links
Thank you, Ericka! I agree with you and have updated the post accordingly.
Such a great post and list. It’s really tough to protect our babies during the winter.