Baby shoes and clothes

Keeping your baby warm this winter

If you’re a new parent, you’ve probably found yourself asking a never-ending list of questions. Like, is my baby hungry? Or have they slept enough? One of these questions might be, is my baby warm enough? Ternity Group’s Nourish Baby Health Writer, Jane Barry gives us some tips for keeping your baby safe and warm this winter.

 

How do I know if my baby is cold?

Because your baby can’t tell you how they’re feeling, you might be worried that your baby isn’t warm enough. The best way to know is to feel the skin on their back or tummy, which should feel comfortably warm (not hold or cold). It’s normal for babies’ hands and feet to feel cold, so don’t worry if they’re a bit colder to the touch.

 

Do babies get colder than adults?

For some reason we tend to think that babies are likely to become cold sooner than adults. But a human’s body temperature is the same no matter what age they are (around 37 degrees Celsius). Although a young baby’s temperature-regulating abilities are immature, you don’t need to worry about that when dressing them.

 

Do I need to control the temperature in my baby’s room?

In Australia it’s not usually necessary to monitor the temperature in your baby’s room (despite what certain products on the market might be telling you!). Unless you have issues with knowing when a room is too cold (or too hot) yourself, then you can trust that you’ll know what’s right for your baby.

Likewise, it’s not usually necessary to leave the heating (or cooling) on all night to maintain a specific room temperature and Red Nose does not recommend a specific room temperature. Using common sense and dressing your baby appropriately are enough.

 

How should I dress my baby during winter?

While some people say a good strategy is to dress your baby in as many layers as you have plus an extra one, this doesn’t allow for warmer days when another layer could be too much to feel comfortable. Being too hot can be problematic for your baby, so dress your baby as you would dress yourself and use layers to be comfortable. Babies control their temperature mostly through their face and head, so it’s important that these are uncovered when you’re in a warm place.

When it comes to dressing your baby, remember to:

  • Dress them as you dress yourself – if you’re cold then chances are they are too.
  • Use layers so you can easily remove them when you’re inside.
  • Take their hat off as soon as they’re in a warm place – babies can easily overheat if their head is covered.
  • Put socks on their feet or use a onesie with feet and after washing them, remember to stretch the socks/onesie so their toes have enough room to wriggle. Also check for any loose threads or hair which could wrap around little toes or fingers.
  • Avoid overdressing your baby just to look cute – what’s important is that your baby is comfortable and dressed appropriately for the weather.
  • Make sure they don’t look flushed or sweaty – it’s better to err on the side of less clothing rather than too much. If they do look flushed or have clammy skin, remove some layers and offer them fluids.
  • Think about your baby’s comfort when they’re in a sling or pouch – while close physical contact is great for bonding, babies can become extra warm when they’re snuggled up close.
  • Never strap your baby into their car seat swaddled or with a thick coat on – harnesses work best close to their body without a gap.

 

What about when they’re sleeping?

When it comes to sleep, all parents and carers want the sleep gods to be kind! To keep your baby comfortable and safe while they’re sleeping (during the day and night), remember to:

  • Always lay them on their back, with their head and face uncovered to protect them from overheating.
  • Dress them in a safe baby sleeping bag (one with fitted armholes, a fitted neck and no hood). Using the manufacturer’s guide, choose the TOG that matches the temperature in warmer weather, and higher-rated bags in colder weather.
  • Use layers of lightweight blankets (cotton or muslin) if you opt to use bedclothes instead of a sleeping bag, and remove a layer or two if you feel they’re too warm. Tuck the blankets firmly underneath the cot mattress so they can’t become loose and cover your baby’s head and face. Your baby should be at the foot of the cot and the blanket should only be able to reach as far as their chest.
  • Use lightweight fabrics if you’re swaddling your baby and don’t overdress them underneath. Remember these extra layers will provide their own warmth.
  • Don’t leave a hat (or bib) on your baby as it can cover their face and lead to overheating.
  • Never use electric blankets, wheat bags, heat packs, hot water bottles, doonas, bumpers, sheepskins or soft toys in your baby’s cot.
  • Don’t share a bed with your baby even if you think they need warming up. This can increase the risk of fatal sleeping accidents.

 

What about the warmer months?

Before you know it, spring and summer will roll around again. In the warmer months it’s important to:

  • Dress your baby in looser, light clothing – often a nappy and singlet are enough for them to be comfortable
  • Choose baby clothes that are made of natural fibres (like cotton, linen or bamboo) because artificial fibres don’t breathe like natural fibres
  • Change your baby’s clothes regularly so they feel cool and fresh
  • Make sure their nappy is the right size for their age and weight, so that they’re comfortable and don’t feel restricted
  • Bath your baby to cool them down – if they’re hot and miserable then a bath and feed can often help to calm them
  • Be mindful when using a sun cover or canopy over a pram or stroller as it can lead to an increase in heat
  • Avoid going out in the middle of the day where possible.

 

Remember, no parent knows with 100% certainly that their baby is dressed in the right amount of clothing – sometimes it can be a challenge just to work out how we’re feeling! The best thing to do to make sure your baby is comfortable, is to look for and follow their cues.

 

 

 


Ternity Group supports Teachers Health members through the New Families Program.

 


Nourish Baby Health Writer Jane Barry has qualifications in general, paediatric, immunisation, midwifery and child health nursing. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Applied Science (Nursing) and has almost 35 years specialist experience in child health nursing.