No matter the temperature, my grandma is likely to see a baby's bare feet and comment on their perceived body temperature. "Why is she not wearing a coat?" she would say if she saw the number of times my daughter runs outside without shoes, let alone a jacket. Of course, she's not wrong. After all, when you are dressing your child, you do have to think about what's required depending on the temperature. But when you are first learning to evaluate the various elements, you may still wonder: When is it too cold to take a baby outside?
“It is important to use good judgement regarding this matter. If you feel cold, it is likely that your baby is cold too,” Dr. Eboni Hollier, who is board-certified in both general and developmental and behavioral pediatrics, tells Romper in an email interview. “If it is uncomfortably cold or excessively windy, it is likely best to keep baby indoors with the exception of quick trips to and from the car. Remember that young babies, especially those less than 6 months old, are not able to regulate their temperature well and may lose heat causing them to become too cold."
Of course, it's not always easy to identify signs that your baby is cold, but a good indicator is that their hands, feet, and/or trunk are cold, according to SwaddleDesigns. Instead, a baby's hands and feet should be pink and warm. Your baby may also fuss or cry for seemingly no apparent reason. SwaddleDesigns cautioned that symptoms of a baby that is too cold should not be ignored. Babies cannot shiver like adults and will instead become very quiet and still when their bodies are chilled, risking neonatal cold syndrome. In addition to symptoms already mentioned, signs of hypothermia in infants can include a weak cry, poor feeding, and heart arrhythmias.
Of course, you will also want to be careful of overheating your baby, which can happen at any time of year. That means you'll want to be careful of excessive blankets and clothing that is too warm when heading outside. If your baby feels feverish but isn't sweating, has a rapid heartbeat, vomits, and/or seems dizzy or confused, then they may be too hot. Baby Center pointed out that, "as a rule of thumb, an infant needs one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear at the same temperature."
You should also consider wearing your baby in order to keep them warm. Not only will they benefit from your body heat, but you will feel toastier with them on the front of you, too. On one unexpectedly cold trip to NYC last year, I wore my daughter and tucked my glove-less hands in the carrier. It was a lifesaver.
Make sure that when you do put a coat on your child, you remove it before putting your child in the car seat, too. "If there's too much material between the baby and the car seat's straps, the material could compress during an accident, leaving space for your baby to become unsecured," according to Fit Pregnancy. Just bring a blanket to keep them cozy during the drive.
That doesn't mean you can't still stuff your child in those adorable one piece snowsuits and watch them waddle around as they experience their first snowfall. Some of my favorite memories from last winter include my daughter's rosy face peeking out from the small opening of her hooded snowsuit, complete with teddy bear ears on top. I had her so bundled up that there was no chance that she would be cold or, quite frankly, able to move most of her limbs. But, man, she was cute.
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