Out and about with baby in winter
Your newborn’s little body is vulnerable to the cold and you will need to take all the necessary precautions to protect him when you are both going out and about.
Out for winter walks with baby
It's impossible to go out in this weather, you think to yourself. It is true that winter isn’t really ideal for long strolls with the pushchair. However, walks in the fresh air are good for baby; they help her to strengthen her natural defences (the same goes for you too!). Babies should be taken out of the house every day to get some fresh air. This will help them to sleep better, give them a good appetite, improve mood and better prepare them for braving the cold.
However, babies weighing less than 4kg should remain indoors when the temperature outside is lower than 15°C. The same goes for when it rains, it’s windy or snowing, or if the baby has a fever - in other words, the main causes of congestion due to cold, humid air. It’s better to go for walks when the air is dry.
- Rainy days: When your baby has been kept indoors for several days because of a particularly bad spot of weather, bring her close to a window so she can enjoy some fresh air for a few minutes (the ideal in this case is a porch or deck).
- The ideal length of time for a walk: It's recommended not to exceed 30 minutes during the first days. However, for babies weighing more than 4.5kg, walks can last a little longer.
- The right time of the day: In winter, the most recommended time for going out for a walk is just before or after lunch, when outside temperatures are at their highest. Don’t worry if your baby falls asleep during the walk, he still benefits from the fresh air.
- Always in the pushchair: Besides dressing your baby correctly, always take her for a walk in her pushchair (or in her baby sling, close to your warm body). If you stop for a while, pull down the pushchair hood or put on the weather protection guard so that she doesn’t get cold.
- The ideal mode of transport: If you have the choice, go for a pram (more comfortable for you and for baby). If it’s just a quick stroll and the weather is OK, you could use your baby sling or baby carrier (they have the advantage of keeping baby nice and close to you). Some models, specifically for newborns, support and protect baby’s head and avoid his feeling every little jolt; when baby is bigger (and his head is well supported by the neck muscles), you can choose another baby carrier, which will offer him a better field of vision.
- Dressing for winter walks: When you go out for a walk, don’t forget to put baby’s hat and gloves on: the head is one of the areas from which heat escapes the most. As your baby grows, she may increasingly want to take her hat off; opt for a balaclava in this instance. And sew her gloves to her coat sleeves to avoid her losing them all the time!
Watch out for winter viruses
Baby’s immune system is still immature; the cold reduces her body’s defences and viruses are more present and stronger than ever. This combination of factors tends to make baby particularly vulnerable.
The biggest risk in cold weather is respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) which can cause bronchiolitis. This infection occurs especially in under-two year olds. Contamination arises from runny noses, saliva droplets from coughing and sometimes hands of staff in collective establishments (nurseries and hospitals, etc.).
Symptoms include faster breathing, the thorax sucking in when breathing in, wheezing when breathing out and sometimes an accelerated heartbeat. Fever generally remains moderate. The infection is most serious in babies under 3 months old if premature. Apart from serious cases, treatment can be given at home. Bronchodilators are sometimes prescribed, but antibiotics are most often prescribed. A baby can have 2 to 3 respiratory tract infections a year, but they usually recover in a few days. These infections do not leave after effects.
Breast-feeding – and especially the breast milk produced in the first few days, called colostrum – is the best ‘vaccine’ you can give your baby. Prolong breast-feeding until the warmer weather if you are able to.
Sleep is also a very important element at this age: try and ensure that your baby sleeps at least 14 to 15 hours a day.
But, nothing can rival love and affection to protect a baby from viruses in the environment. Numerous studies have demonstrated that children covered with hugs, kisses and affection from mum and dad are the ones that get ill the least often.
Copyright © 2010 Doctissimo
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