Forget the old wives' tale about catching cold just being outside in cold weather. Your baby is more susceptible to getting sick from being cooped up indoors all winter with people who are coughing and spreading cold and flu germs. While there are some risks, for the most part, you can take your baby outside for a little bit to get some fresh air in moderately cold weather, as long as he has on the proper protective clothing and safety precautions are taken.
Consider just how cold it is before thinking about taking your baby outside. Babies cannot regulate their body temperature the way adults can, so they need more protection from the cold weather. Newborns up to 6 weeks of age should be kept indoors when the temperature reaches freezing, or when non-freezing cold weather is combined with rain or wind, according to Mark Widome, a pediatrics professor at Penn State College of Medicine, on CNN.com. The National Safety Council doesn't recommend that anyone, child or parent, spend much time outdoors in temperatures 20 degrees and lower. Keep any outings for babies in extremely cold temperatures to no more than a brief walk to and from the car.
Winter Baby Gear
Dress your baby in layers when preparing to take him out in cold weather. The general rule of thumb is to dress them in one more layer than you would yourself. For young babies, a snug winter jacket combined with a warm blanket for her legs is ideal as an outer layer, according to expert pediatrician and author Dr. William Sears. Polyester snowsuits with hoods are ideal for older, walking babies, especially for playing in snow. Your baby should also be wearing a fleece hat that covers his ears and mittens to protect his hands. Avoid any hats or hoods with drawstrings, which can cause strangulation in infants. Be careful of thick socks with winter shoes, as the socks can make the shoes too tight and restrict blood flow, making toes colder quicker. Select shoes one size bigger when baby will be wearing thick socks. Remove outer layers as soon as you return indoors to avoid your baby getting overheated.
Winter Weather Safety
If you plan on taking your baby out in her stroller around the block, ensure the route is clear before you go. Consider branches heavy with snow that could snap and fall. Look out for patches of ice on the sidewalk. Keep the canopy of the stroller at least partially covering your baby to protect her from the elements. If the sun is shining, your baby's skin can be at risk for sunburn, despite the cold weather. Sun glare on snow and ice can also hurt your baby's eyes. Keep your baby shaded by the stroller canopy and put a pair of cute baby sunglasses on her. Sunscreen is okay for babies 6 months and older, according to the Mayo Clinic. Rub a small amount of children's sunscreen on her face and any other exposed skin. Follow that with a baby-safe creamy moisturizer, or ointment like petroleum jelly on her cheeks for added wind protection.
Baby Outdoor Activities
Once you've taken care of warmth and safety issues, make the most of your time outdoors with your baby. Aside from taking a brisk stroller ride around the block, if there is snow on the ground, you can guarantee your little one will be fascinated with it. Let her touch the snow with her gloved hands. Walking babies can jump around and throw snow in the air, or attempt to make snow angels, copying an older sibling or yourself. Point out winter sights like pine trees, winter birds and holly bushes. Check your baby's face, fingers and ears regularly for signs of cold and head inside before she gets too uncomfortable.