I had a June baby in the HOT Midwest! But when we moved to Western New York a few months later and her first winter set in, I had no idea how warm to keep her.
My body thermostat runs pretty cold; anything less than 72 degrees and I’m chilly! So I figured I had to bundle her up! Our pediatrician said to dress her like I was dressed, just add an additional layer. Uh…I’m wearing 3 layers already! Pediatricians are the perfect resource to help understand the risks of overheating our little ones.
Honestly our tendency is to over dress our babies, so here are a few pointers for keeping your new baby comfortable this winter.
In the house
The average indoor temperature of 68-72 degrees is comfortable for baby and putting on one more layer than you’re wearing (unless you’re wearing 3 layers) is a good rule to follow. In the winter, my daughter was usually dressed in a long sleeve onesie, a one-piece sleeper, and maybe some socks or booties if her feet felt cold.
Don’t gage your baby’s body temperature by her hands or feet. You can put on socks or mittens, but don’t be tempted to over dress. Your baby’s back or tummy should be warm, but not sweaty.
Fresh air is good for everyone, so if the weather is above freezing and not windy, don’t be afraid to venture outside for a walk. We even took our 6 month old snow shoeing her first winter! She was so bundled up inside her snow suit, she barely fit in the carrier, but she had a ball!
Continue to follow the “one more layer than you” rule and add a hat and mittens. In the stroller you can add a foot muff and blanket for extra warmth.
Follow this advice from Rallie McAllister, M.D., coauthor of The Mommy M.D. Guide to Your Baby's First Year,
"Check your baby often for signs of discomfort. If his face gets red, his skin is warm, and he's fussy, he's probably overheated. If he's fussy and teary-eyed, and his skin is cold to the touch, he's probably not bundled up enough."
Cooler temperatures make for better sleeping—we kept her bedroom around 66 – 68 degrees. Dress your baby in a one piece sleeper like this one that has easy access for middle of the night changing.
Instead of covering your baby with a blanket, swaddles like this one or this one are great for safe and cozy sleeping.
Follow the same cues for a comfortable body temperature. I often found myself checking my daughter’s neck before I went to bed in the early days. As long as she wasn’t sweaty, I knew she was fine.
In the car
Bulky coats or snowsuits should not be worn in the car seat because the straps are not able to be tightened enough to keep baby safe. Keep them dressed in the same indoor layers in addition to a hat and mittens and tuck a blanket around your baby after they have been securely strapped in. (For more information on car seat safety, see How Sure Are You That Your Children Are Traveling Safely in Their Car Seat?)
Enjoy the cozy winter months snuggled up inside and take pleasure in being outside on those crisp, sunny days. Be tuned in to the signals your baby is sending and don’t let the cold stop you from enjoying life.
Annie Wiesman is the co-author of “Education Begins at Birth: A Parent’s Guide to Preparing Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers for Kindergarten.” She is a former kindergarten teacher turned stay-at-home mom who enjoys traveling, hiking in the mountains, and creating memories together with her husband and little girl.