How to Dress Baby for Colder Weather

Tips and advice for dressing your baby for fall and winter weather – including ways to ensure he or she doesn't get too warm.

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Fall is right around the corner and with that comes the shift in weather here in southeast Michigan. Cool, crisp temperatures mean that it’s time to grab a sweatshirt or light jacket on the way out of the house and for kids to wear a hat at the bus stop. But what about the babies in your bunch? If you’re wondering how to dress baby for colder weather, we’re here to help.

Here, Michelle Enerson, the NICU Parenting Program coordinator at Beaumont Health System in Royal Oak, offers tips for making sure babies stay warm indoors and on the road.

Staying indoors

When you’re in the house, Enerson recommends parents of infants keep the temperature between 70 and 75 degrees in the cooler months.

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Indoor dress should consist of layers – like you’d do for yourself – but remember not to over-layer your littlest one’s outfit.

“I always say a good rule of thumb for dressing a baby is one more layer than you or I would wear to be comfortable,” Enerson says.

And, since babies can’t tell their parents whether they are hot or cold, there are several ways to make sure they are warm enough. Enerson says to feel the baby’s chest and stomach and make sure both areas are warm. Feeling hands and feet can be deceiving. When in doubt, parents can take the baby’s temperature. If it’s normal, then the baby is dressed appropriately.

“If you notice that your baby is becoming overheated – their hair is sweaty or if you pick them up that their back is sweaty – take a layer off,” Enerson says.

On the road

Socks, mittens and a hat – don’t leave home without these basics, especially as we head into those Michigan winters.

When it comes to keeping their tiny toes warm, Enerson says that babies don’t need shoes until they start to walk, but their feet need to be covered with socks. Outfits with footies can be paired with socks to keep the baby’s feet even warmer when it’s cool.

Some parents also prefer to use mitts on their babies’ hands to keep their fingers warm, especially if the babies frequently sucks on their fingers.

When it comes to coats in the car, take caution.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, thick and bulky coats can “compress in a crash and lead to increased risk of injury.” Instead, the AAP recommends parents remove the coats before placing children in a car seat.

“If you have them in a car seat, they shouldn’t have anything heavier than fleece under the straps of the car seat,” Enerson says. She says a blanket can be used on top of the baby after he or she is is strapped in the carseat to keep him or her warm.

To keep babies warm in the car seat, Enerson recommends covers that stretch around the outside of the car seat that safely keep baby warm. She prefers the covers with a cutout that actually allows parents to see the baby.

Bedtime warmth

At night, Enerson recommends using a T-shirt or onesie underneath a sleeper, then covering baby in a sleep sack or swaddle.

Baby Center suggests choosing a flannel fitted sheet for your baby’s crib as another way to provide warm, cozy sleep enivornment for your little one.

While it’s important to keep babies warm, Enerson says to make sure they do not overheat. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, babies who become overheated while sleeping or use thick blankets are at a higher rate for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

So, if you notice your child is sweating, breathing rapidly or has flushed cheeks, remove the swaddle or even a layer of clothing to cool him or her off a bit and reduce the risk of injury.

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