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Ask the Pediatrician

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Keep baby warm when outdoors in winter

By Dr. Rhonda Patt
Dr. Rhonda Patt
Dr. Rhonda Patt is a pediatrician with Charlotte Pediatric Clinic and past president of the Charlotte Pediatric Society.
COLD 2_2
DIEDRA LAIRD - Observer file photo

Q. Do you have any tips for how to dress our baby in cold weather?

A. Dressing infants for cold weather can be a little tricky. Because infants cannot retain body heat as easily as adults, they are at a greater risk of hypothermia in cold weather. For this reason, it is important to dress them appropriately when temperatures fall.

Layers

One of the keys to dressing a baby in winter is to layer clothing. Layers allow for easy transitions between indoor and outdoor temperatures. During winter weather, infants should be dressed in a onesie T-shirt under long sleeves, pants and socks. When going outside, add a fleece bunting, hat and gloves. Add blankets depending on the wind, temperature and amount of time spent outside.

Limit time spent outdoors

When temperatures fall below freezing, infants younger than 6 weeks should be kept indoors when possible. Older infants may be taken out, but parents should limit the time outdoors to a few minutes. When possible, warm up the car in advance so you don’t have to bundle your child in the car seat.

Monitor baby’s temperature

The baby’s skin should feel warm but not hot. Hands may feel cool but should not appear red. To assess a baby’s temperature, feel her abdomen, which should feel warm. A hot flushed face is a sign of overheating. A cool abdomen is a sign of low body temperature.

If a baby gets too cold, go inside. Put a hat on her and swaddle her. Hold her close to your own body to warm her, and call her pediatrician.

Rhonda Patt is a pediatrician with Charlotte Pediatric Clinic. Email living@charlotteobserver.com; put “pediatrician” in the subject line.
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