A daily dose of fresh air is good for you and your little one’s health, and can even help your baby to sleep soundly at night. This is great news for all new parents! But just the idea of going for a walk when it’s freezing cold can be daunting enough to put you off, especially if you’re a first time parent.
What you need to keep your baby warm in the stroller
Babies are particularly susceptible to feeling the cold weather, as they are unable to regulate their temperature immediately. Therefore, it is important that you stay vigilant and ensure they are just right – not too hot, and not too cold! If you go out for a walk unprepared, concerns over your baby’s warmth and struggling with bulky and ineffectual winter accessories can turn a relaxing stroll into a stressful rush home, but thankfully there are plenty of products designed to help you out.
1. Stroller liner
A stroller liner is a must-buy piece of equipment. Available in a range of styles to fit all brands of stroller, a liner sits in the body of the stroller to keep baby’s underneath nice and cosy, which is otherwise tricky to do. Look for a fabric which is breathable to reduce overheating, and washable in case of accidents. Cleverly-placed slits in the liner will mean the harness straps of your stroller are easily accessible at all times.
2. Stroller footmuff
These are designed specifically for the type of stroller you have, so make sure you only look at compatible options. A footmuff will fit securely into place over your stroller and has a zip fastening to get baby in and out, and adjust the amount of cover they get. Footmuffs tend to be more insulating than blankets alone, thanks to being fastened all around the stroller to make a little cocoon for your baby to lie in. They may also have a fluffy insulating inner, so are a great option if you are a keen walker and want to keep baby warm for longer periods.
Stroller footmuffs are available in a range of sizes, so think ahead about how long you will be using the same stroller, and whether you would like to keep the same footmuff too. Be aware – if you do decide to get a bigger footmuff to begin with, you might need to use extra blankets inside the footmuff to pad out the gaps and keep them cosy when they’re newborn. Consider choosing a footmuff with a wipeable foot section, which will be handy when they are up on their own two feet, so you don’t have to worry about the inside of the footmuff getting dirty.
If you live in an area which is relatively cool all year round, you might want to look into getting a type of footmuff which is made up of various layers, so you can add and take away layers as the seasons go by.
For use on their own, or in conjunction with a footmuff, blankets are your number one friend! All parents will need a multitude of blankets of different thicknesses for use all year round, so make sure there is always one tucked away in the bottom of your stroller or nappy bag, ready to use when you’re out. When baby is little, you can use one blanket to swaddle them to keep their hands tucked in and cosy, and another to go over the top for added warmth.
Top tip: Blankets laid over the top of your stroller are prone to falling off. No matter how well you think you’ve tucked it in, babies are wriggly! Luckily, blanket clips are readily available, so if you choose blankets over a footmuff, make sure you buy a set, to keep your baby’s blanket in place!
4. A stroller cover
Usually a fairly low-cost purchase, waterproof plastic stroller covers shield your baby from bitter winds, cold rain and snow, keeping them snug as a bug inside. The same stroller cover will often fit multiple stroller types and will fasten using poppers or Velcro tabs.
5. A snowsuit
If you live in an area where long, cold, winters are the norm, a snowsuit could be a wise investment. Dress your tot in their outfit for the day, and have their snowsuit on hand to put on over the top at the last minute. Look for a washable style that has a hood, an internal insulation layer such as fleece or faux fur, and a waterproof outer and your little one will be plenty cosy enough for your outdoor adventure.
6. A cosy coat
If your winters are relatively short, a good coat may be all you need to keep baby warm in their stroller. Avoid styles with zips up to the neck, as this can irritate their delicate skin, and choose a size that will comfortably fit over multiple layers, but not so big they can’t easily move their arms.
No baby wants to feel constricted in their clothing, and they will let you know if they’re not happy, so making sure you get the right size will make your life much easier! Bear this in mind when you’re budgeting for their Winter wardrobe, as you may even need to buy several throughout a long, cold season while they are growing so quickly.
Remember: If you’re travelling away from home to go for a winter walk, bulky items such as a snowsuit or padded coat shouldn’t be worn in the car seat – the extra padding will mean the straps would be too loose to properly protect your baby should an accident occur. Instead, lay a blanket over the car seat for the journey, with baby strapped in tight underneath, and put your baby into the snowsuit or coat once you arrive at your destination.
7. A warm hat
A lot of heat can be lost through your baby’s bare head, so always ensure it is covered, right down over the ears if possible. A cosy, insulating material, such as fleece or wool is ideal to keep their little head warm and sometimes opting for a bigger size will help keep it on. Hats can be tricky things to keep in place though, so luckily, there is now an alternative…
8. Baby balaclava
Yep, baby balaclavas may be a Godsend if your little one is particularly prone to tugging their hat off – some babies just don’t like them! Not set to style your baby on a bank-robber, baby balaclavas are actually quite cute – and are usually made of super-cosy fleece, covering their whole head, ears and neck.
9. Gloves or mittens
Similar to a hat, gloves or mittens can be tricky, but important, to keep on your baby. Try a style of coat or snowsuit with mittens attached, or if this isn’t available, put the gloves on first, then the coat, so the coat sleeves help keep them in place. If your baby is prone to sucking their hands, keep a spare set or two handy, as once wet, gloves will make your baby’s hands colder, not warmer.
Top tip: Before you go out, warm up your stroller liner using a hot water bottle or hairdryer, so when you place baby in, they are warm and cosy straight away!
10. Don’t forget the baby booties
Last but by no means least, remember socks or booties! Even inside a footmuff or blanket, these are important items. Socks made of breathable fabrics such as cotton or wool are preferable to keep little toes warm but reduce sweating, and booties with adjustable ankle fastenings will help keep them on those little feet.
How do you know if your baby is warm enough?
With all of this in mind, you will know if something is not right when it comes to your baby – whether it’s being hungry, needing a change, or being the wrong temperature. If your baby is too cold, it’s likely they will be fussier than usual, won’t settle independently and may not be so keen on feeding.
Equally as important, is for your baby to not overheat, so any extra layers you put on them to go outdoors, remember to take off again once back inside. This rule applies for a quick trip into the warmth of shops, or a short journey in the car, as well as once you get back home.
Now you’re all set for cold weather, remember:
Babies don’t have the same ability as older children to shiver when they are cold, so you need to physically check their temperature whilst you are out and about. Do this on their tummy or back to give a true indication of their body temperature; as hands, feet and ears are always likely to be slightly colder.
As a general rule of thumb, most young babies will need to wear one extra layer than you do to feel warm. So if you’re wearing a vest top, jumper and coat, your baby is likely to need a vest onesie, long sleeve top, jumper and coat – as well as outer accessories.
While you’re out shopping, remember yourself!
If your hands or fingers are numb with cold, you won’t be able to help your baby as much as if you were warmer yourself. Consider stroller accessories such as insulated mittens that attach to the stroller handle, so you can remove your hands from them easily to help your baby. Stroller cup holders mean you can enjoy a warm coffee or tea whilst taking your baby for a walk and you may want to try out some special tyres for your stroller to make it easier to handle over snowy or icy ground.
Although it will take more time to get ready than in the warmer months, if you follow these tips and get prepared, there’s no reason why exploring the great outdoors with your baby in the Winter shouldn’t be an enjoyable experience for both of you.