If It's Freezing Out, Here's How Many Layers Your Baby Actually Needs

The one thing I hate most about winter is the bundling, whether it’s for me or my kids, layering can be a painstaking process. My kids will tell me how hot or cold they are, regardless if I ask them, but if you are the parent of a tinier tot, you won’t have the luxury (I use that word loosely) of them communicating their comfort level. With all the cold weather coming your way, you may be wondering, how many layers should your baby wear in freezing temperatures?It's a tricky subject — too many layers can make them overheat, and too few layers may make them feel cold.

The answer really lies in what you’ll be doing with your baby in those freezing temps, and how long you will be outside. If you are going from the house straight to a warm car, the amount of layering you will need may be less than if you’re going for a long walk in the cold. According to Parents, as a rule of thumb, generally parents should dress their babies in one layer more than they are wearing themselves.

In an interview with Romper, pediatrician Jarret Patton says that when you go outside, your baby will certainly be more sensitive to cold than you will be, and that the frigid air can be harsh on their exposed skin, causing chapping and eczema on their cheeks and face, so it’s a good idea to keep them properly covered. Patton says one of the most important layers for a baby in the cold weather is one that covers their head, like a hat or hood. “Remember that the baby loses most of their heat through their head,” says Patton, “so make sure that it remains covered.”

If you are just going from your house to the car, you may need to reconsider the amount of layers you add. Patton says that keeping your baby’s temperature regulated in freezing weather can be difficult, especially when you are in and out of cars. “You need to bundle the baby in clothes appropriate for the outside weather,” explains Patton, “however if the car ride is long, the baby may overheat.” It is not uncommon for babies to develop heat rash, adds Patton, from being over-bundled in a car seat for too long. He suggests warming up your car in advance to reduce the amount of layers your baby needs, and keeping extra blankets in the car just in case.

If you are going out in freezing temperatures, and are going to put your baby in a car seat in the car, there are a few general rules on layers you should know. Jessica Zablan, founder of the Birth and Baby Company, and Certified Child Passenger Technician tells Romper that the safest way to dress your baby for a car seat is in one warm layer, like a pair of footed fleece pajamas. Once your baby is buckled into the car seat, Zablan says you can wrap a warm blanket around them for added warmth. “Never put a child in a puffy jacket while they are in the car seat,” warns Zablan, “because the puffy material will compress in an accident and the straps will not be tight enough.”

If you are going to be outside with your baby for a long period of time, without riding in the car, you can easily add warm layers like a coat or baby bunting. If you are wearing a thermal, sweater, and coat, you can layer your baby in a long sleeved onesie, fleece footed pajamas, a coat or bunting. For the extra layer you can cover them with a warm blanket, just make sure their head and face is not exposed to the cold air, and don’t keep them out for too long.

Patton says that cold air and temperatures are safe for babies in short bursts, as long as babies are properly bundled in layers for warmth. If the exposure to freezing temperatures is for an extended amount of time, it could become unsafe. “Cold air to the point of lowering the body temperature can cause a dangerous condition called hypothermia," warns Patton. Parents suggested looking to your baby for signs of hypothermia. If their eyes begin tearing, they are fussy or crying, they are shivering, have blue lips, or look pale, you should get out of the cold into someplace warm. When it comes to taking babies out in freezing temperatures, it’s a good idea to keep your outings short and sweet.

Winter can be a hard season to navigate with a little one. The short days indoors can give you cabin fever, and a small brisk walk or a trip to the mall can really help get you out of a funk and feeling brighter. Just remember to layer your baby properly and safely, so you can get out and enjoy life.

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