Monday, November 21, 2011

Winter baby tips

As the snow started to fall, I was reminded of a desperate mom's message board post last winter about going out with her young baby. She lived in Alberta & was worried that her child would get too cold if she went out. She was also worried about her sanity if she had to stay indoors the whole winter because she couldn't drive.

So I thought I'd post a few tips I learned from other savvy moms or figured out on my own last winter as a new mama living mostly car-free.

1. Baby in the Bubble
The rain cover on your stroller also helps keep babe warm on cold windy days. The little bubble created by the plastic cover helps keep the heat in & cut down on wind chill, so even if it's not raining or snowing, it's still useful.

2. Be Safe, Be Seen
Now that the sun's going down so early, you'll probably be out in the dark more than you think. Get a small LED bike light to put on your stroller or carrier for the days that you come home after 4pm. I like the turtle lights from MEC, which are just $3.75. They have a solid or flashing setting, an elastic loop to attach to nearly anything, come in four different colours & have an easy-to-find replaceable battery.

Sprout & me zipped into my big old goretex jacket
3. Wear your Baby
If it's really cold when you go outside, like colder than it ever gets in Vancouver, the safest, warmest place for your babe is up against your body. Little babies can't regulate their own body temperature very well, so even if you bundle them up in the stroller, they might not be warm enough. If you use a carrier (I love the Beco Gemini), there's nothing in between you & your baby (well, except your clothing), so your body heat can keep them warm. Just layer on a fleece & jacket over both of you to keep toasty. If your winter wear is too fitted to do this, try borrowing a bigger one from your partner or a friend. I did this with an old jacket last year--Sprout stayed nice & warm everywhere we went. I got a few funny looks when people saw two heads popping out of the jacket last year.
Also, most strollers don't do that well in snow, so it just ends up being an exercise in frustration trying to get anywhere with one. Wearing baby in a carrier you are much more nimble getting around all the lumpy snowbanks & slush puddles that seem to be constantly in the way of strollers. Just be extra careful if it's icy--you don't want to fall. Obviously you're worried about hurting baby, but if you're injured, all those diaper changes, baby-lifting, laundry, etc that you need to do is going to be a lot harder.

Just unwrapped from his bunting
4. The Maggie Suit
What to wear? Those little duffel coats are so cute, or the little toques. Baby mittens are adorable too. But does your baby think so? Is s/he the kind to rip off mittens & hats as soon as they're on? Plus, when they get scrunched up in the stroller seat or the carrier, are there gaps where the jacket's ridden up & baby belly is poking out in the cold? Keep it simple by dressing baby like Maggie Simpson.
To keep Sprout warm last winter, we usually dressed him in a one-piece fleece suit, the Ursus Bunting from MEC. At $42, they're not cheap, but we used it every day for months, so I feel like we got our money's worth. The bunting is great because rather than having separate booties & mittens that snap on, there are integrated mitts & boots that simply fold over. I also found the hood to be a good fit & helped keep hats on him if it was extra cold. When Sprout's legs outgrew the 6-month size, we just unfolded the bootie parts & he got a bit more wear out of it.

5. Get out!
All this seems like a lot of work but you neeeeeed to get out when every day is grey & the weather's awful. If you stay at home too many days in a row, the cabin fever will drive you crazy.

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