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Winter health tips for baby and family

Keep your baby healthy, warm and comfortable into the winter months


Posted: 22 November 2010
by Maria Muennich

With winter right around the corner, if you have young babies and children it's particularly important to be prepared for chilly days. Whether you're not sure where to start with keeping your newborn at a safe temperature or you could do with some help keeping bugs at bay, here are some pointers for keeping your family safe and well through the winter.

Baby clothes

As temperatures drop you'll need to have the right winter clothing for your baby. While the shops are usually full of cute and thickly padded snowsuits these often aren't the most appropriate, or even convenient, outerwear for your baby, unless you're really heading out into the snow. Layering clothing / covers gives you more options and lets you adjust your baby's temperature more quickly and easily.

Newborns need special attention as they can't yet regulate their temperature on their own and may not be able to let you know that they are uncomfortable. Just as important as wrapping up is unwrapping when you come in to warm environments as babies can quickly overheat. You'll need to frequently check your baby's temperature (by placing the back of your hand on his chest or the back of his neck, not hands and feet) and adjust when necessary by adding or removing layers.

A toddler will usually let you know when she's uncomfortable by fussing and complaining. Removing clothing herself doesn't necessarily mean that she's too warm though, hats, gloves and coats are particularly tempting for a toddler to practice her undressing skills with - whatever the temperature.

Indoors

Whatever the temperature outside, the safe and comfortable room temperature for babies stays the same, within two degrees of 18°C. If you're not sure how warm it is in your home then you can get a thermometer quite cheaply - it may give you peace of mind.

Unfortunately, keeping your home comfortably warm through the winter can have a few undesirable side-effects, such as drying-out the air, making your home stuffy and providing a breeding ground for germs. Luckily there's plenty that you can do about this without suffering a chilly home, we've got plenty of advice in this article on keeping a healthy home in winter. Particularly important is to be aware of possible carbon-monoxide poisoning in the home by fitting a special alarm and keeping your gas appliances well-maintained.

Changes in temperature from outdoors to in and the drying effect of heating can wreak havoc on the skin, even more so for children and babies than adults, so it's wise to look out for signs of dryness and irritation and take preventative action where you can. Pick up some tips on on winter skin care for your baby.

Colds and staying healthy

While you'll be naturally most concerned with the health of your children, winter health is a matter for the whole family, as soon as one person is sick the rest are more likely to become ill or to simply have a tougher or more miserably time of it than usual.

While we can't guarantee you'll be kept free of the wintry bugs and blues by following these winter health tips, they should help to cut down your family's chances of succumbing to illness, and help keep up your spirits until spring.

Of course, however hard you try, your baby and/or toddler is likely to suffer from coughs and colds in winter, and some babies are susceptible to episodes of croup, with it's alarming barking cough. When you're going through the tough experience of nursing your baby through her first (or sixth!) cold, remember that, while you don't want your baby coming in contact with every bug in town, going through these early illnesses has a positive aspect in helping to develop her immune system.

And before you head for the doldrums at the thought of all that cold and wet looming, don't forget that it's not all bad. Besides those (admittedly occasional) gloriously sunny wintry afternoons, what could be more perfect than coming in from the bitter cold to a cosy home, a nice warm drink and some apple crumble.


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