Precautions for taking a newborn baby out in winter

My baby is so small, can I take him/her out for a walk? How should I dress him/her? Is he/she properly covered up? Won't he/she be cold? When you have a newborn baby and the temperature starts to drop, we as parents are bombarded with questions. We always want to do the right thing and are scared of making mistakes! 

Firstly, remember that a baby born in winter, at term and of a good weight, is no more fragile than if they had been born in March, June or September!  However, it's true that you need to take a few precautions the first time you take them out.

Not in all weathers. 

Our grandmothers thought that a child had to have fresh air every day. Today, in fact, paediatricians do not necessarily recommend this. So don't turn daily outings into an obligation, especially in winter! The midwives will tell you when you leave hospital that above all, a newborn baby needs to feel secure at home and discover their environment. When temperatures drop to around -10° degrees (which is rare in most of France) it's better not to go out at all. Babies cope better with dry cold than wet cold so when it's foggy, it's best to stay at home!

Not for too long.

In the first few weeks, little 20-minute outings will be enough. Gradually you can increase the length to around an hour. Keep an eye on your baby's behaviour and you will soon see when it's time to go home: they will become agitated, whiny or will cry, as they know very well how to express their discomfort. It's their way of telling you "Stop, I'm cold, I want to go home." Don't forget that babies get cold much quicker than you are as they are static.

Not just anywhere.

A little outing to the park or the square is more beneficial than a trip to the shopping centre. Do you have shopping to do? Delegate it (easier said than done, of course...) but don't take your baby to a place that is full of people, noisy and with a multitude of germs and draughts. Give Granny a call, or your best friend, an old aunt perhaps... More seriously, going in and out of shops causes repeated changes between hot and cold. The variations in temperature between the outside and the inside demand a huge effort to adapt by the baby's body, as they are not yet able to regulate their own temperature. If you forget to uncover your baby when you enter an over-heated shop or café for example, they could quickly suffer from hyperthermia.

Preferably in a pram

When it's cold, babies are more sheltered inside a pram, especially if it's windy. Plus they are facing you and you can observe their reactions and identify very quickly whether they are suffering from hypothermia. In a baby sling, they benefit from your body heat, but their legs are really exposed to the cold. Pushchairs, meanwhile, are not adequate for a baby in winter as they are not comfortable or protective.

Covered up but easy to uncover

It's not a good idea to bundle them up in too many ultra-tight layers. They need to have air circulating between their clothes. The ideal solution is warm, covering underwear and good socks, as the first layer of clothing is vital. However, due to their thermal immaturity, it is recommended that babies wear thicker clothes than adults. The simplest is a hooded bunting bag or a snowsuit covering them from the head to the toes, which you can easily open when you feel that your baby is too hot, under which they can wear a simple indoor outfit. Beanie hats are essential as babies lose heat through their heads (80% of heat exchange occurs through the head). Finally, mittens should also be a part of their protection against the cold. As with adults, their extremities - hands or feet - get cold very quickly, even more so if they are not moving much.

Cream for their fragile skin.

Babies' fragile skin must be protected from the cold and wind. It gets dry and red very quickly. In addition to daily creams, use a paediatric moisturiser on the face and hands before you go out. Don't hesitate to take the tube of cream with you in case you feel your baby needs more!

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