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How to deal with kids in winter

Now it is getting cooler we need to talk about how best to deal with kids and winter. I do get a lot of questions around how to dress your baby for the colder months and what is the best room temperature for your child to sleep in.

In my experience, it is easier to warm a room and a baby rather than cool them down and I do think most babies prefer to sleep in a cooler temperature and be rugged up rather than the opposite. That said, it is important to not let your child get cold overnight, as this can cause them to wake, which can usually happen when the temperature drops around the 4 and 5am in the morning.

As well as dressing your baby appropriately, I suggest warming the room if it is particularly cold. You can do this with a heater, either switched on before the baby goes to bed, or kept at a steady temperature overnight. I prefer the room to be about 20 to 22 degrees, but down to 18 degrees is fine. If this isn’t possible then you will need to dress your baby more warmly, so the best option is having them in a singlet (because my grandmother taught me that you should always wear a singlet winter!), then an all-in -one sleep suit with long arms and long legs and feet covered, and a sleeping bag or swaddle bag that is a winter weight (usually a 2.5 or 3 TOG is enough). If you still feel this isn’t warm enough then add another layer to the baby, so a jumper or cardigan over the sleep suit can work.

Some people like to use a blanket as well, which is okay as long as they baby can’t get stuck underneath it, so usually a lose blanket is a better idea if your baby is moving around, but ideally it is better to just dress your baby more warmly and not use the blanket. For very young babies who are not moving then a sheet and a blanket is lovely tucked in tightly.

It is also important to know that young babies lose heat faster than adults and the younger they are, the less able they are to regulate their temperature and cope with the cold. So if you are venturing out into the cold, make sure your baby is layered up. Don’t overdo it though! Some people really overdress their babies and this can be an issue too. So, the rule of thumb is dress them as you would dress yourself, then add one layer. Hats/beanies are also a good idea for the outdoors when they are little.

Winter is also a time for colds and germs so try to keep them away from other children who have colds. Also make sure everyone’s immunisations are up to date and wash, wash, WASH hands particularly if you have an older child at childcare or school.

Babies’ skin can get very red and dry in the winter months, particularly the cheeks and lips. This is due to the cold, dry air. You can help by applying a gentle moisturiser every day to these areas, and some baby-safe lip balm to help with the dry lips. You also don’t need to bath your baby every day if they have particularly dry skin, and when you do, make sure you use a cream cleanser rather than a soap the wash them with. You can also use a humidifier in their bedroom at night, to help soften the air and relieve the dryness.

Article by Wattle Health resident expert, Paediatric Nurse, Jo Ryan.