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How To Layer Your Baby Without Overheating Them

Even with a wardrobe of mostly onesies and diapers, dressing a newborn can be nerve wrecking. On the one hand, you want to make sure they're warm enough for when temperatures take a frigid dip. But you also want to make sure they're not overheated. Both scenarios carry very serious medical risks that you'll want to avoid. Thankfully there is a general rule that will help you decide how to layer your baby without overheating them.

According to What To Expect, your baby should be wearing the same number layers of clothes, plus one. Often the plus one layer can be a blanket, snowsuit, or stroller weather cover. The same site warned that you have to be careful to not overdo it especially if you're at home, out at a restaurant or the mall, or in a warm car. Babies that have too many layers on (in the form of clothes or blankets) are at risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The best way to gauge whether or not a baby is overdressed or not is by touching a baby's toes, Mark Windome, professor of pediatrics at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine told CNN. If the toes are a little cool, but not cold and the baby's belly is warm the baby is dressed warmly enough. But if the belly and the toes are both warm, the baby could be overdressed.

My first child was born in January and I often went back and forth trying to nail down the perfect combination of clothes for inside the house, outside stroller walks, playing in the snow, and traveling in a car. The obvious issue with all of these different environments is that one way of dressing a baby does not fit all indoor and outdoor conditions. Here are six tips for dressing your baby for the different indoor and outdoor activities they'll encounter in the winter.

1. Wrap Them In Blankets When Traveling

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It's very dangerous for babies to travel in car seats with winter jackets on, according to Healthy Children, especially the puffy, fluffy ones. Even if you think the straps and harnesses feel tight around your child with a jacket on, the truth is they're not as tight as they could be because all of that extra material. The harness should be snug up against the child's chest with only one finger between the straps and your child's body. The solution to that is layering your child with warm and fitting clothes like sweatshirts, fleeces, and even some thinner jackets. Furthermore, you can use blankets, hats, and mittens as accessories that you can remove once it's a warm enough temperature in the car.

Car seat covers have become extremely popular as well in recent years. Just because they're sold, doesn't mean they're entirely safe. The same Healthy Children article stressed that you can use a car seat cover only if it does not have a layer under the baby. There should be nothing underneath the child's body or between the harness straps. Also, this may be a no brainer, but the baby's face needs to be uncovered to avoid re-breathing risks, or breathing in the same air they let out.

2. Add Accessories For Stroller Walks

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Those hats, mittens, gloves, and booties will come in handy for a brisk stroller walk during the fall or winter. My pediatrician encouraged me to get my baby outside everyday, even on cold days, for some much needed Vitamin D and fresh air.

You should layer your baby for a walk when it's cold outside with the same general rule: as many layers as you, plus one, according to Parents magazine. Topping the layers off with mittens, a hat,and booties is a good way to cover a baby with accessories that can also be removed if needed. These accessories don't count as the plus one, so the site suggested parents also use a blanket, stroller cover, or bunting product.

3. Wear Waterproof Clothes When Playing In The Snow

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Driving in snow and shoveling it are two of winter's greatest annoyances. But, playing in snow - that's pure pleasure for adults and kids alike. You use the same rules as above with layering for cold weather, but with an emphasis on waterproof clothing explained Parents magazine. The main goal is to stay as dry as possible and that can happen using waterproof jackets, hats, gloves, and boots or a full body waterproof snowsuit.

4. Chill On The Layers For Indoor Play

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Venturing out in the cold can be a hassle, so opting for a lot of indoor play during the winter months might make more sense. Again, the plus one layer rule can apply here according to Parents magazine. It's important to keep monitoring your baby during winter indoor play. If a baby is getting too hot is they may be sweating, super fussy, or lethargic. You can check the temperature of their toes and belly again if you're unsure if your baby is overheating indoors.

5. Use Sleepers and Sacks At Night

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You shouldn't use blankets in a baby' crib, but there are other ways of keeping them warm. The Baby Center suggested parents used a flannel fitted sheet, a one piece fitted sleeper, and if you think more warmth is necessary you can use a sleeveless sleep sack. The site also suggested warming up the crib with a heating pad initially, but remember to remove it before the baby goes to bed.

6. Limit Layers When Co-Sleeping

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If you're co-sleeping with your baby they will be getting some of your body heat. The Baby Center explained that using cotton sheets and cotton sleepers are best for co-sleeping babies. The site also suggested that co-sleeping parents go as minimal as possible and resist the urge to layer.

It's best to be ready and prepared for cold temperatures and build in extra time to dress your baby appropriately. The beauty of layers as a general rule of thumb is that you can shed or add them if needed as you go from indoors to outdoors and vice versa.