When we weathered our first winter with a baby, we googled a lot: how to dress baby in the winter, how to dress baby for sleep, how to protect baby from the cold, how to keep baby warm in the car seat, when will this winter end, etc. etc. Here's what we learned: our best tips to help you take on cold winter weather with a baby - whether you're bundling baby for a winter walk or trudging through the snow with the car seat.
This post contains affiliate links which means that if you make a purchase, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. That said, even though I love a pretty snowfall and a chunky baby in a snowsuit, my #1 tip is actually to avoid all of the links in this post and move somewhere warm. If, like me, you'll still spend the winter scraping ice off your windshield dreaming of days when you can pop outside with your babe in nothing but a onesie, these other suggestions may help.
1. Layer baby in cute little outfits.
2. Add a cozy, weatherproof layer for outdoor adventures.
3. For the car seat, choose thin layers, skip the jacket, and use a blanket over the car seat straps.
4. For night sleep, a swaddle or a sleep sack over pajamas works great.
1. Tips for Dressing Baby
Start with thin layers that baby can wear if you are warming up indoors or loading into the car.
Pack an extra hat in your diaper bag or stroller just in case you forget.
2. Tips For Outdoor Adventures
Weatherproof accessories are great for keeping baby warm and dry.
WTFTM Share: I appreciated weatherproof accessories *only after* I bundled L up in a cozy outfit and blanket to take him on his first snowy walk of the season...and, like a true FTM, came home with a far-less-cozy, very wet and heavy bundle.
For the stroller: a stroller footmuff or cover can add weatherproof layer.
For a budget option, try a stroller cover or weather-shield.
Reminder: If you choose a product advertised for use in stroller seats and car seats, review car seat safety tips (below) to make sure your little one is buckled safely.
For baby-wearing: try a baby carrier cover (or bundle baby in your jacket).
Check out accessories made for your baby carrier (ErgoBaby Winter Weather Cover).
Try multi-use cover (7AM Enfant Baby Carrier Cover).
For playing in the snow:
Some waterproof snow boots come in small toddler sizes; while we generally opted for soft-soled shoes or booties for early or "pre" walkers, we liked something waterproof for snow adventures.
3. Tips for Staying Warm and Safe in the Car Seat
In case bundling and unbundling and layering and un-layering and changing a blowout in the midst of it all doesn't make winter weather hard enough, here are some gentle Winter Car Seat Safety reminders from the AAP:
"Bulky clothing, including winter coats and snowsuits, should not be worn underneath the harness of a car seat" (source: AAP).
"Use a car seat cover ONLY if it does not have a layer under the baby. Nothing should ever go underneath your child's body or between her body and the harness straps" (source: AAP). Even if a product is marketed for use in the car seat, if any part of the car seat harness (shoulder straps or crotch buckle) must route through the product, it should not be used in the car seat.
So, with safety in mind, here are some tips to keep baby warm in the car seat:
Dress your little one in thin layers:
Add a blanket for a baby in a car seat over the safely-buckled straps:
Add a car seat "cover" that is safe for car seats:
Carseat covers or cocoons fit over the infant car seat and are great for keeping wind and snow off baby when walking outside (7AM Enfant Car Seat Cocoon).
Multi-use covers (7AM Enfant Baby Carrier Cover) can be used over baby carriers, in strollers, and as a blanket over the car seat straps.
Remember, the cover should not go under the car seat harness in any way.
This post by Safe in the Seat has a great list of specific products approved by car seat experts, which you can also find in her Winter Guide on Amazon. The Car Seat Lady has more detailed recommendations for keeping babies and kids warm and safe - check them out here.
4. Tips For Sleep
Even in cold weather, avoid cranking up the heat or overdressing baby to reduce the risk of SIDS and help babies sleep better (source: Mayo Clinic). Swaddles and sleep sacks over pajamas are great for keeping babies warm while following the AAP's safe sleep guidelines.
Experts recommend keeping the room at a temperature that is comfortable for adults in normal (light) clothing. 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit is often a suggested temperature range (source: VeryWell Family). Ask your pediatrician if it makes you feel more comfortable.
From the AAP: "In general, infants should be dressed appropriately for the environment, with no greater than 1 layer more than an adult would wear to be comfortable in that environment... Over-bundling and covering of the face and head should be avoided" (source: AAP).
If you are swaddling baby (or using the Snoo), baby will usually be comfortable in just footie pajamas and a swaddle. For an extra layer, add a onesie under the footie pajamas.
Feel baby's neck, chest, and/or tummy if you feel they may be too cold (or too warm) and add (or remove) a layer. Of course, call your pediatrician if your baby seems unwell.
WTFTM Share: As a new mom, I was overwhelmed by all of the guidelines, all of the WARNINGS, all.of.the.time. These car seat and sleep tips are not at all meant to scare you or to scold you. We just want to help you feel informed and confident when you are droppin' $$ on a chic "footmuff" even though you didn't know that was a word until last week and you'll still be trudging through winter in boots from high school.