I adore cold weather. I thrive in it. I love everything that goes with it, but it can admittedly be a pain. There's always a balance between too much and not enough when it comes to clothing, skin care, and the ever present battle over the thermostat. (Yes, husband, I did want it set to 75, thank you very much.) When it comes to protecting your baby, you want to make sure you get it right and dangers from the cold like windburn are real and preventable. How to keep your baby's face from being windburned is important knowledge to have handy when the mercury drops and the winter winds start whipping.
Windburn is tricky because it's often difficult to distinguish between the pink of cold cheeks and the red of a burn. However, there are steps you can take to prevent your child from feeling the bite. Keeping your baby's skin moisturized and hydrated is the first step, according to Canadian Health Services. Also, bundle up with hats, mittens, earmuffs, and scarves. In the case of small babies who need to be watched more closely for suffocation, liberally apply a moisturizer that also has SPF in it. While the sun is not at its strongest point in the sky, it reflects off the snow, making it harsher and stronger.
I am terrible at preventing windburn on myself. You see, I suffer from terrible claustrophobia that's tied to my OCD, and the idea of putting a scarf around my face or a knit mask over my mouth as I walk around town? Well, you might as well just make it out of plastic wrap, because I will freak out like it's going to suffocate me anyways. Therefore, about once or twice a year, I find that after a day of traipsing about Brooklyn or Manhattan that my face feels like it's been set on fire and then rubbed with salt. It's really painful, and makes me look like someone's just walked by and challenged me to a duel by slapping the hell out of my face with some leather fencing gloves.
I'm way better at caring for my kids' skin, though. I have no desire to see their cute little faces and necks marred by the bite of wind that spears between buildings in the city, with a straight trajectory to any exposed bits of skin. They're used to me yanking them from their baths, cocoa butter lotion in hand, to slather them head to foot in the chocolate-smelling moisturizer. They're also quite accustomed to being wrapped up like Randy in A Christmas Story. Sure, they might fall in the snow with no hopes of getting up because they can't put their arms down, but you know what they aren't? Windburned.
I spoke with an expert on cold weather, Minnesotan nurse practitioner Ally Johnson, and asked her how to keep baby's face from being windburned. She tells Romper, "Windburn usually isn't serious, but it is uncomfortable." She's obviously never seen me after I get windburned — it's definitely serious. Seriously hideous. "If your baby is over 6 months old and you can't keep them in the stroller, protected from the wind by shields, smear them in sunscreen and try to keep as much wind off their skin as possible with their hat, scarf, hood, gloves, etc. Make sure their skin is really moist, because the wind sucks all the hydration from it that it can. Reapply as needed and take frequent breaks away from the wind."
When you're out and about having a good time, that last bit of advice can be easily forgotten, but it's the part that makes the most sense. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and all that, right? Maybe this year, I won't only worry about my kids, I'll also keep my own face safe and sound as well.
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