Q: As the colder weather approaches, do you have any suggestions on how to keep my baby warm?A:
This is a topic that comes up often in my office, largely due to differing opinions among caregivers – the discrepancy is most often between parents and grandparents. Certainly, it is important that our children stay warm and cozy even when the weather is cold. This contributes to a sense of well-being and security. That said, more is sometimes less.
Every family keeps their home at a different temperature. Some people keep their homes at 62-64 degrees during winter, others turn the heat up as high as it will go. Thus, if you are one of the former, you may want to dress your child warmly even for time spent inside, and vice versa. A good rule of thumb, inside or outside, is to have your baby wearing one more layer than whatever it takes to make you comfortable (this may not apply in midst of summer heat). Your baby’s position will determine their clothing needs as well. When your infant will be in a stroller, they will require more added warmth than if you are wearing them in a sling or other infant-carrier where they benefit from your body warmth.
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Common advice from parents of previous generations (now the grandparents) is to suggest over-bundling of children (picture Randy being prepared to walk to school in “A Christmas Story”). In fact, when it’s cold, usually a simple coat, as well as hat, in addition to their outfit, should suffice. Socks can help keep their feet warm. Gloves can be a challenge, as many infants will use their mouth to remove these–some infant outfits do have the option to fold in and thus close at the wrist to keep hands warm in a baby-proofed way.
When you place your child in their car seat, remember to remove any bulky jackets prior to strapping them in, as the straps can be too loose and thus less safe if the coat is too large. If your child is likely to be cold in the car, you can place a blanket over the straps of their car seat to help them stay cozy.
Hopefully, this winter is not too cold – but if it is, your little one will hopefully stay warm!
Brian Eichner is a general pediatrician and assistant professor of Pediatrics at Duke Children's Primary Care-Roxboro Street in Durham. He enjoys providing care for children who are healthy as well as those with complex medical conditions. Dr. Eichner also serves as the medical director of the Duke Pediatric Diagnostic Clinic. He and his wife have lived in the Triangle since 2006.