How to Keep a Baby Dressed Warmly

I find it amusing that by each springtime I’m feeling well and truly bored with cooked winter veggies and really looking forward to some crisp salads. Then by fall I am feeling well and truly over summer salads, and looking forward to lots of warm cooked veggies again.

Certainly, keeping young babies warm during winter is a critically important topic, for the repercussions of a hypothermic baby can be serious – and seeing an underdressed baby is a notoriously common sight. However, a baby’s age also impacts on the strategies of warmth required. Babies really fall into three categories:

NEONATE (Newborn, say 0-6 weeks old)

Regarding air temperature and newborns, my best advice is to think of a baby as thermally-challenged, because although newborns have a little natural protection against the cold, they are really pretty handicapped to protect themselves against the side effects of inhaling low air temperatures. What newborns need is a consistently warm room temperature, termed a Thermally Neutral Zone, of 25°-27°C for the first month or so, until Bub’s body has started to fill out with improved levels of insulating fat.

NON-MOTILE BABY (Non-crawler, say 1-9 months old)

The golden rule with non-mobile babies, is always one extra layer than an adult. So, if say you have a t-shirt, jersey and jacket – then your baby needs a singlet, t-shirt, jersey and jacket; or if say your bed needs one blanket, then your baby needs two. Also, non-crawlers in cool air consistently need a hat; and in cold air they need a hat covering their ears, booties and perhaps mittens.

MOTILE BABY (Crawling baby, say 8-12 months)

The use of skeletal muscle for the actions of crawling, metabolically creates body heat, so these infants can be dressed very similarly to an adult, with the added precaution of a hat to maintain heat – unless they have a big mop of hair and the temperature isn’t cold.

For cold chilly air temperatures, a great investment for all infants are thermal singlets, available as a vest or body-suit, and short-sleeve or long-sleeve. These are great at keeping an infant’s torso (and vital organs) cozy warm.

When out and about in winter using the pram, then great warmth extras include a sheepskin liner, carseat-pram snuggler-bag, and of course a storm rain cover.

A final special word of caution to expectant Mums:

It is vital to be very vigilant regarding air temperatures if transferring after childbirth from a delivery hospital to postnatal care facility, or transferring from the birth facility straight home. Hours-old babies are extremely vulnerable to rapid heat loss, even if dressed well – and signs of a hypothermic baby include rosy cheeks and sleepiness which is easily mistaken as a contented baby. Please ensure a brand new baby spends the entire ride in a car that has been pre-warmed with its heater to the optimum air temperature of 25°-27°C.

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