Have you noticed that the sun rises a little later and the evenings are getting chillier? Winter is coming and it’s time to prepare for it, says Yashmitha Padayachee.
Babies lose heat more rapidly than adults, and they can’t regulate their temperatures like we can. They depend on external factors, such as their clothing, to warm them up.
In order to keep your little one safe there are a number of aspects to consider. These include baby’s age, your location and the intensity of winter in your area. Here are a few things to keep in mind when getting ready for winter.
Layers of love
Layered clothing helps to trap warm air, helping to keep your little one warm. The rule of thumb should be that baby has at least one layer more than you.
Be mindful to not use material that is itchy, or which will cause sweating or skin irritation. Use a vest or long-sleeved spencer as an under-layer, preferably in a soft cotton material. Layered, light, breathable clothing is ideal.
Must-wear items include socks, gloves and a beanie. You lose heat via your feet and head, and the same goes for babies – except they do so even faster and more easily.
Babywearing can be a great way to use your body heat to keep baby warm, or if your baby is in a stroller, drape a light receiver over the canopy to create a ‘curtain’ that will protect them from cold air flowing directly onto their face. Also try to walk to not walk into the wind.
Keep checking to see that your baby doesn’t overheat or that they need another light blanket. Be careful of overheating your baby: heat rash is common during winter.
Keep in mind your location. Winter in the Western Cape is considerably harsher than in KwaZulu-Natal. Bear that in mind when purchasing winter clothing. Layers can be removed or added to adjust to weather changes.
Any good routine includes a moisturiser. Keep an eye on your little one’s delicate and sensitive skin. Colder weather causes baby’s skin to dry out, so use baby oils and extra moisturising creams to keep their sensitive skin well moisturised.
Dry skin can be itchy and cause discomfort for baby. Remember fragrance-free is always best, as it is less likely to create an allergic reaction.
Limit the number of baths, duration of baths and be sure to use warm and not very hot water as all these factors can contribute to drying out baby’s skin.
Don’t get cabin fever.
Shutting yourselves away will make both a new mom and baby a little crazy. Time outdoors for some fresh air and socialising is important for both baby and you. During milder winter days, make time for a trip to the park.
When indoors, don’t be tempted to raise the temperature needlessly. Too much heat is as harmful to baby as too little, and will contribute to drying out the air and exposing your little one. To combat the drying out and keep air moist, use a humidifier.
Some humidifier brands allow the use of essential oils that can help should your little one develop a stuffy nose. Please consult your paediatrician before use, as some oils may be harmful.
Once baby is a little more active you will find that they often kick off their blanket at night. Use a sleep suit or sleep sack to keep them fully covered and warm.
Along with the decrease in temperature, winter brings with it an increase of viral and bacterial flus and colds. Our babies and toddlers are still busy building up immunity, so getting ill can turn nasty quickly. Consult your physician with regards to baby safe immune boosters for the season.
Avoid packed malls or shopping centres with baby. Outings should take place where there is plenty of fresh clean air. There’s no shame in asking sick family members to distance themselves from baby while they recover.
Don’t neglect yourself during this period – take care of your own health too. Colds often spread from one family member to the next, so the entire family should take precautions and increase their immune booster intake. Make sure you are all eating well and drinking plenty of water.
If you don’t already have an emergency kit in your car, it’s time to pack one. A change of clothes, wet wipes and an extra blanket should suffice at first. You can amend the kit whenever necessary. (Irrespective of the fact that you’re probably carrying around half the house in a nappy bag).
When you’re a new parent, winter takes on a new meaning and can be daunting. Don’t be afraid: mother knows best, so keep calm, trust your gut and pay attention to how baby reacts. If nothing else, the best part of winter is a viable excuse (not that one is needed) to keep baby closer to you.
There is nothing more comforting or rewarding than snuggles with your little one. It’s the ideal time to bond as a family. Trust me, I’m a winter baby too.