From cosy head to toasty toes, we explore what kit you’ll need to get your baby through their first chilly season.
It might take a ridiculously long time to get ready. And your bundle of joy might kick up all manner of fuss as you try to add just one more layer. But my goodness, there is nothing cuter than your baby all wrapped up for their first winter. Here are our tips for keeping warm in the cold.
1. A multi-layered approach
Literally. Full-on snowsuits are handy for long periods in freezing cold temperatures, but most of the time, adding and removing layers is the way to go. Particularly if you’re going to be nipping in and out of houses, shops or cafes.
It’s a good idea to check what you’re wearing and put them in one more layer (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2016). So, if you’re in a shirt, sweater and jacket, your baby might need a vest, sleepsuit, jumper and coat (plus hat and gloves as needed). With your local NCT Nearly New Sale you won’t need to spend a fortune on winter woollies either. Cosy.
"Your baby will be as glad to cool down in a toasty, warm house or café as they were to stay warm in the frosty weather."
NHS advice is to take off a baby’s hat and extra clothing just as soon as you come back indoors or get into a warm car, bus or train. Even if it means waking your baby (NHS Sheffield, n.d.). We know this seems like the last thing you’ll want to do but it is important to ensure they don’t overheat (NHS Sheffield, n.d.).
2. Heads and hands
Ok, now for the really cute bit. It’s especially important to keep your baby’s head warm in winter, so be sure to dress them in a woolly or insulated hat (CUH NHS Foundation Trust, 2018). The ones that cover their ears and cheeks are a great idea for maximum warmth and adorability.
Mittens for hands are good too, though it can be tricky to keep them on (to say the least). It’s worth persevering, but remember, little hands can also be tucked under blankets. The most important thing is that your baby’s body and head are wrapped up well to keep the warmth from escaping.
3. Going ‘au naturel’
No, not starkers – that really wouldn’t be a good idea. Baby clothes with natural fibres, like cotton and wool are great for winter and help to maintain body heat (NHS Choices, 2017). They’re comfy, warm, gentle on the skin and let the skin breathe.
4. Getting about
Whatever the weather, it’s always a good idea for you and your baby to get out for the fresh air and change of scenery – even if it’s just for a short walk. In fact, babies sleep better at night if they’ve had some fresh air during the day (Harrison, 2004).
While walking is helping keep you warm, your baby isn’t getting the same benefit. The good news is that most buggies and strollers have snuggly bags available for these winter months – what a way to travel.
And remember, if you’re using a sling or carrier, your baby will have that wonderful extra source of warmth – your body. Just be sure to check regularly to make sure they’re not too hot.
Sleeping in the fresh air
The benefits of a baby napping outside in the fresh air have been widely reported recently – a Scandinavian method catching on in the UK (Telegraph, 2018). We’re not suggesting you wheel your baby out in a blizzard. But, you both getting out for a walk and them napping al fresco could be of real benefit to them as long as they’re suitably wrapped up (Telegraph, 2018).
5. Keeping comfy
You might be tempted to buy the cutest little woollen coat but remember to think comfort over adorability. Try to choose clothes that allow your baby to move their arms and legs as easily as possible. And watch for potentially annoying zips right up by their neck. They might prefer a couple of soft, lined cardigans rather than a big stiff coat.
6. Staying dry
Rain covers for buggies and strollers are invaluable in winter – not only do they keep your baby nice and dry, but they also provide extra warmth. If you’re using a sling or carrier, a good-sized umbrella will do the trick nicely too.
If your baby’s at the crawling stage, it can be wonderful to let them explore the snow for the first time. This is where snowsuits or puddle-suits come into their own – just be sure to check your baby isn’t over-dressed underneath so they don’t overheat.
7. Where to go?
That’s right, you’ve just added several new layers to the joys of baby-changing. The last thing you want is to have to struggle through them on a cramped toilet floor. Be sure to check out our award-winning Babychange App to help you find your closest changing facilities.
Make friends with other new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening near you. You’ll soon get to know which cafes, shops and restaurants will give you, your new friends and your buggies (and babies) a warm welcome.
8. Cars in the cold
Keep the layers to a minimum when out in the car – this is really important. If there is too much padding between your baby and their car seat straps, the seat will not be as safe.
Cars can be icy cold to get into in the wintertime but they soon warm up. And if you’re still worried that your baby’s cold, lay a blanket over them after they’re safely strapped in. But check regularly to make sure they’re not overheating either.
9. If in doubt, check
Just like adults, a lot of your baby’s wintertime is spent adjusting to the different temperatures indoors and outside. To check you’ve got the number of layers just right, check their tummy as it’s a much better indicator than their hands (NHS Sheffield, n.d.).
Tiny hands and feet will inevitably feel cold in cold weather – this is perfectly normal. If they look blue or blotchy, pop on some gloves or extra socks (CUH NHS Foundation Trust, 2018). And if you’re worried, you can always make them nice and toasty again by holding them close.
10. Winter nights
We all like to throw an extra blanket on when the nights get colder. Yet it’s a good idea to err on the side of a cooler, not warmer, bedroom for your baby. Babies can overheat because their room is too hot or because there is too much bedding or clothing (NHS Sheffield, n.d.). The ideal temperature is between 16℃ and 20℃ (NHS Choices, 2017).
Most of the time, it’s OK to dress your baby in their usual sleep suit. If you’re using a sleeping bag, check the manufacturer’s recommendation for winter tog thickness. You can add a blanket if necessary, but always remember to put them to sleep at the bottom of their cots. That way they don’t wriggle down underneath them.
Of course, if you’re co-sleeping, bear in mind they’ll have the extra warmth from your body too.
This page was last reviewed in November 2018
Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.
We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about birth, labour and life with a new baby.
Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby. To find out when an NCT nearly new sale is happening near you, search here.
To read more about safe sleep for babies in winter months this leaflet is useful.
American Academy of Pediatrics. (2016) Tips for dressing your baby. Available from: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/diapers-clothing/Pages/Dressing-Your-Newborn.aspx [Accessed 5th November 2018]
CUH NHS Foundation Trust (Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust) (2018) Temperature Control. Available from: https://www.cuh.nhs.uk/neonatal-services/community-support/temperature-control [Accessed 19th Oct 2018]
Harrison,. Y. 2004. ‘The relationship between daytime exposure to light and night-time sleep in 6-12 week old infants’, Journal of Sleep Research. 13(4):345-52. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1365-2869.2004.00435.x [Accessed 1st November 2018]
NHS Choices. (2017) Keep warm, keep well. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/keep-warm-keep-well/ [Accessed 19th October 2018]
NHS Sheffield. (n.d.). Safe sleep for your baby. Available from: https://www.sth.nhs.uk/clientfiles/File/Sleep%20Safe%20inners%20[web].pdf [Accessed 19th October 2018]
Telegraph. (2018) Return to old habits as babies encouraged to sleep outside in fresh air. Available from: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/03/return-old-habits-babies-encouraged-sleep-outside-fresh-air/ [Accessed 31st October 2018]