Winter sleep – keeping your baby safe and warm

By Kate, 14th November 2019

Now that winter is here no one wants to be stuck indoors. I am a real advocate for napping in the cot when possible, but getting out and about everyday so your mind stays healthy is so important for you and your baby.  From a sleep perspective getting outdoors actually helps your baby acclimatise to a day and night schedule. So, it actually helps babies sleep at night. Winter months can be cold, so keeping your baby safely at the right temperature is so important.

Why is a baby’s temperature so important?

Infants lose heat faster than adults, and the younger their age, the less able they are to cope with cold. Small babies lack the ability to increase heat by shivering and don’t have the body fat needed to warm back up once they get cold. It is therefore important to try and maintain their core temperature in a safe way. 

Avoiding a winter coat in the car

Taking off your baby’s coat in the car may seem counterintuitive. But the problem with that a coat provides too much material between the baby and the straps. Coats can be unsafe because you need to loosen the car seat harness in order to accommodate them. Best option is to use a coat or blanket to keep the baby warm on the lower half of their body after the strap is securely fastened.

Winter layering up

If the temperature or wind chill dips below freezing, or if non-freezing temperatures are mixed with wind or rain, keep your little one inside except for brief excursions, like to and from the car. If it’s not freezing outdoors, dress your baby in layers. Watch out for your baby showing signs of discomfort. If his face gets red, his skin is warm, and he’s fussy, he’s possibly overheated. If he’s fussy and teary-eyed, and his skin is cold to the touch, he’s probably not layered up enough. Choosing breathable fabrics such as cotton are helpful. You can take the layers on and off as needed. 

Be careful when covering your baby’s pram

Many prams and pushchairs have covers especially fitted to that brand to allow appropriate air circulation. So don’t be tempted to make your own version work as the air might not circulate as well as the brand fitted one. 

Keep the indoor temperature right

A room temperature of 16–20C is ideal for your baby, when growing up in the UK. This feels quite cold to a lot of people, so using a room thermometer can help check the temperature. If you are using light bedding such as sheets and blankets, they should be tucked in carefully with no loose ends that could obstruct your baby’s breathing. Similarly, baby sleeping bags should be well fitted, especially around the neck and arms, but comfortable, so your baby cannot wriggle down inside. Lullaby trust offers some great advice on safe sleeping.

Prevent dry skin

Cold temperatures, and central heating can all contribute dry itchy skin. Ironically, water can dry out skin, and most babies don’t really need to be washed daily in the winter anyway. Use warm water (not hot) and don’t let your baby soak too long. Limit time in the tub to 10 minutes or less for a newborn. After the bath apply a simple baby friendly moisturiser. If your baby’s skin turns red or irritated during the cold months make sure you see the doctor. 

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