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It's cold outside: How to keep your baby healthy, safe and warm this winter

January 15, 2018
By Jen Zbozny - For Mirror Moms , Mirror Moms

It's exciting to anticipate firsts for our babies -- first smiles, first tooth, first steps. When it comes to baby's first winter, careful consideration goes a long way toward keeping little ones comfortable and healthy.

Following are some questions and answers.

1. Should you avoid taking your new baby outside in winter?

Dr. Rakesh Chopra, M.D., FAAP, of Chopra Pediatrics says "Fresh air is essential. It's important all year long. Unless it's dangerously cold. Don't fear taking your baby out in the cold weather."

Dr. Sathya Aswathappa, M.D., FAAP, of Pediatric Alliance in Altoona adds, "as far as activities outdoors, babies need the fresh cold air. It's OK to take them out, as long as it's not exceedingly cold."

2. What to wear?

"Layer them up," says Aswathappa, "and make sure they have a hat to keep their head warm." Chopra provided a helpful framework saying, "put baby in one more layer than what you are wearing, and work from that."

There's a caveat. Both doctors related the importance of taking baby's coat off to put them in the car seat. "Remove heavy stuff so the closure is safe," advises Chopra.

Sunshine is a factor too. Since "the sun still has radiation in winter it can create problems," says Chopra. "It's best not to use sunscreen on babies under 6 months." As Aswathappa puts it, "sunblock for everyone but shade for newborns."

Chopra adds, "it's a good idea for newborns to avoid the sun between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm." He goes on, saying that new babies do need Vitamin D though, and recommends vitamin D supplements for breastfed babies. For formula fed babies, there is already Vitamin D in the formula.

3. What about dryness, and the cold and flu season?

Chopra says, "the dry air in winter can contribute to dryness of the skin, nose and mouth." He encourages moisturizing appropriately and recommends after bath time as the best time to apply scent-free, hypoallergenic lotion for your baby. Aswathappa reminds mom to stay hydrated due to dryness, and adds that babies who are on solids can add water too.

Both doctors stated the importance of using humidifiers to keep moisture in the air and avoid congestion.

Chopra prefers cool mist humidifiers since heat can encourage germs and bacteria, and reminds parents to clean humidifiers regularly to avoid mold and buildup. Chopra says, "babies' nasal passages are so small so it's easier for them to be susceptible to congestion."

He recommends a sterile solution of saline drops for newborns to help rinse away dust, help moisturize, and relieve swelling.

The doctors warned parents to be careful about respiratory viruses. Aswathappa recommends, "avoid crowded indoor places with your newborn, especially malls during shopping season since that coincides with when flu season starts too." Chopra adds, "avoid close contact with people you know are sick, and avoid close crowded spaces in the first few months of life."

4. How warm should we keep it inside?

Chopra advocates that the home temperature for sleeping "should be no higher than 70 degrees depending on what's comfortable for the family" adding that not keeping sleeping temperatures too warm helps keep more moisture in the air and can help baby sleep more comfortably. He's careful to remind parents of crib safety too, warning against loose blankets or extra toys due to the risk of choking. Chopra says, "for sleeping dress baby in a sleeper or a sleep sack."

5. About vaccines

Both doctors are firm about vaccinations. Chopra says, "follow your baby's vaccination schedule as recommended." He adds, "include a flu vaccine for baby starting at 6 months, as well as flu vaccines for the whole family too."

6. One last thing

For many, the winter season is the season of added gifts and decorations throughout the home. As Aswathappa says, "be extra careful of choking hazards, or anything that babies can pull down and choke on or injure themselves with."

Keeping these factors in mind, you'll be perfectly prepared for baby's first snowman.



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