Summertime is great, especially if you have a baby. You don’t need to worry about bundling up with socks and sweaters, and you and your baby get to enjoy the outdoors with no hassle at all. But if you enjoy going out and enjoying the great outdoors with your baby, winter time may seem intimidating. You can bundle up all you want, but with the cooler temperatures and windier days, it's impossible your baby won't feel some of the temp dip. Many old wives' tales argue that this is really beneficial, but is cold air actually good for babies?
Your family and friends may give you conflicting advice, so Romper asked an expert. Pennsylvania pediatrician, Dr. Jarret Patton, tells Romper that cold air is not necessarily either good or bad for your baby, but it all depends on the circumstance in which you are taking your baby outside. So factors like temperature, proper bundling, and length of exposure need to be considered.
Patton says that if you are only taking your baby out for a small amount of time, there shouldn’t be any problem. “Cold air in short bursts, with proper clothing to ensure warmth, can be fine for the baby,” says Patton. Along with warm layers of clothing, like sweaters and socks, you should always remember to cover your baby's head. Patton explains that babies lose most of their heat through their head, so when exposed to cold air and temperatures, their head should remain covered.
For longer periods of time in the cold, there are a few a things you should take into account. Temperatures that are too cold, like below freezing, should be really limited to only necessary exposure. Patton warns that any temperature that will alter your baby’s body temperature can be risky. “Cold air, to the point of lowering the body temperature, can cause a dangerous condition called hypothermia,” says Patton. According to Parents, children under the age of 2, especially babies under 6 months, are more vulnerable when it comes to to getting hypothermia or frostbite. The article explained that because younger infants have not yet developed a good ability to regulate their body temperature, exposure to colder air can cause them to lose heat rapidly, lowering their body temperatures.
Another important factor to consider is your baby’s skin. We all know how it feels to have chapped skin during the dry, cold winter months, and your baby’s skin is even more sensitive when it comes to cold air. Patton explains that colder air can be harsh on your baby’s exposed skin, including their face. He says that their cheeks are especially vulnerable, and can get chapped or even develop eczema during the winter months. Parents suggested using a moisturizer, like Aquaphor, Eucerin, or Vaseline, to protect your baby’s cheeks from chapping before you trek outside in the cold.
There has been a lot of coverage in the news recently about certain countries in Europe, including Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland, where it is common practice to leave babies sleeping in their strollers outside in the cold for hours at a time. The parents in these countries believe that the cold, fresh air is good for their babies, and that it keeps them healthy and makes their immune system stronger. There is no evidence or data that supports these theories, so if you were inspired by these European traditions, you should take into consideration all of the risks associated, and discuss it with your pediatrician first. Not to mention, in the United States, you could get arrested for leaving your child outside alone, so there’s that too.
For the most part, as long as it’s not too cold, and your baby is wearing appropriately warm clothing, especially a warm hat, taking your baby out for a stroll shouldn’t be too bad. But if it’s really cold and windy, just keep their exposure limited. When they’re old enough, they will get to enjoy all the excitement winter has to offer, snow angels and all.
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