Just how warm should your baby be?

Whether you’re hanging around the house, out and about running errands or taking your baby out for a winter walk, dressing your baby for the colder months can be a challenge. It is typically recommended that you dress your infant in one or more layers than what feels comfortable to you, says Nancy Chandley Adams, RN, BSN IBCLC, a health education instructor from the Women & Infants Health Education Department. “If mom and dad feel comfortable in a t-shirt and sweater, then the infant should have a t-shirt, long sleeve pants and a long sleeve shirt on with a blanket over them.”

Remember to keep your little one safe and avoid dressing them in a big bulky coat while you are driving around this winter. It’s more than too warm for them, and it can be unsafe because the car seat won’t work properly. ConsumerReports.org says: “Even with good intentions, a bulky coat and a car seat are a dangerous combination.” The report goes on to explain that, “There are ways to safely transport children in the cold weather while still keeping them warm.” If you are uncertain about how thick and/or safe your baby’s coat is to wear while riding in the car seat, here are some recommendations from ConsumerReport.org.

  • Put the coat on your child, sit them in the child seat and fasten the harness. Tighten the harness until you can no longer pinch any of the harness webbing with your thumb and forefinger.
  • Without loosening the harness, remove your child from the child seat.
  • Take the coat off, and put your child back in the child seat and buckle the harness straps, which are still adjusted as they were when he or she was wearing the coat.
  • If you can now pinch the webbing between your thumb and forefinger, then the coat is too bulky to be worn under the harness.

“There are many car seat covers that fit over the seat itself and can be used to keep the infant warm when outdoors or in a car. The baby can be dressed for indoors with a blanket and this cover over them and this is usually enough to keep them warm. But always remember to have baby wear a hat to keep the head warm,” Chandley Adams explains. So, how can you tell if your baby is overheating?

  • Their face may look red.
  • They may be fussy or crying.
  • Their skin may feel warm to the touch or they may have a sweaty back.
  • Take the baby’s temperature.

If your baby is too warm, remove a layer and check to see if he or she seems more comfortable, Chandley Adams suggests. For more information or to take a health education class at Women & Infants, please visit Women & Infants Health Education information.