Keeping Your Little One Safe Through Fall and Winter
Texas weather is about to change again and one of the biggest concerns every parent has is how to keep their sweet children safe from the elements.
You may be worried that you’re not doing all the right things – you probably are. If you’re reading this, it means you are concerned about how to keep your baby or toddler safe in cold weather, so take a deep breath, and know you are doing the best for your kids!
There are many ways to care for and warm your little ones and protect them from colds, viruses, and the like as the temperature gets chilly. Bundling up your “mini-me” is the most obvious option, with parkas and warm blankets, especially if you plan to be in the outside cold for more than a few minutes.
Ways to Protect your Child during Cold Weather
If you and your baby need to go out into colder temperatures, the following tips will help:
Mittens and Gloves
Much like we do as adults, your baby will lose the most heat through their hands, feet, and head. Be sure that your baby or toddler has mittens or gloves, warm socks, and a hat to get them through the chilly days. From there, it’s all about jackets and layers, and making sure your child’s temperature is kept consistent even as the thermometer does its ever-changing work.
Layer, layer, layer! Several thin layers allow you to adjust your child’s body temperature to unexpected changes in external temperatures. Keeping the first layer – the one closest to your baby’s skin – slightly loose allows their own body heat to keep them warm, much like a blanket when they are snuggled in bed.
Vaccinate Your Child
Ensure your child is up to date on all vaccinations. Many preventable diseases can be spread during the fall and winter, and vaccines, and regular care, and checkups from your pediatrician are the most important lines of defense against your baby catching something very harmful. Simple coughs and colds are hard enough for small ones to endure, but there are many other diseases that are far worse to treat, and that can be prevented with vaccines.
Monitor Home Temperatures
Keeping the temperature in your home consistent will go a long way in ensuring your little one can adjust to the changing seasons. Their tiny bodies are more sensitive to temperature than those of adults or older children, so it’s important to reduce any drastic changes in heating or cooling when they are indoors.
Interior heating and cooling can also affect the humidity levels within your home, and if you have central air and/or air conditioning, it may become too dry for your baby – and that can result in coughs and cranky nights. During a cold snap, keeping a good-quality humidifier in the house can help maintain enough moisture in the air to help your little ones breathe and sleep peacefully. Be sure to check ratings on humidifiers, and follow all cleaning and usage instructions closely.
Keep Your Child Close to Your Body
The recently popular practice of baby-wearing can be extremely helpful in cold temperatures, because your child can benefit from not only your comforting cuddle, but your body heat as well. Parents and small children both gain from the experience of a snuggly sling as everyone goes about their days.
As an added bonus, your child will enjoy and be soothed by the sound of Mommy or Daddy’s heartbeat and immediate closeness, and will also benefit from being a part of your daily activities in a simple, hands-free, welcoming and integrative way that encourages parent/child bonding.
Don’t Leave Your Child Unsupervised
Never leave toddlers unsupervised in cold temperatures. While outdoor play is extremely beneficial for children, especially at an age when socializing with others is important for development, it’s very important to monitor them and limit outdoor playtime in frigid temperatures.
Always Keep Your Home Clean and Sanitized
Keep your home as clean as possible and sanitize the surfaces where your baby plays. Although it is nearly impossible to ensure a sterile environment – and, in fact, some exposure to germs and bacteria can be helpful to build your child’s immunity – viruses and bacteria can spread easily throughout your home, especially across floors, cabinets, and door handles. Be sure to wash your baby’s hands after play, and before meals.
Wash Your Baby’s Toys
Wash your child’s toys, if and when possible. Plastic toys can be wiped and gently washed with soap and hot water, and dried thoroughly, to help keep them free from germs and viruses. Be careful about chemicals that sanitize, as they can be very harmful and even fatal if your little one ingests them. If you use hand sanitizer, be sure that your hands are completely dry before handling toys and food items that your child may put into his or her mouth. Non-chemical and baby-safe alternatives for sanitizing include white vinegar, steam/hot water, and lemon juice. Regular laundering of stuffed toys, blankets, and bedding can also help keep your little one safe and reduce allergens.
Monitor Your Baby’s Interactions with Others
If you have school-aged children, be careful about their interactions with your baby or toddler. Schools are the primary locations for viruses to be transferred between young ones, and although that is a natural occurrence in childhood, your baby will be less able to handle illness than older children. Make sure your school-aged children follow proper hygiene protocols, not only when sick, but also when they come home from school. Make sure they wash their hands before handling their sweet baby sibling, cover their sneezes, and don’t share toys or food when they’re not feeling well.
How to Ease Your Baby’s Pain from Cold Weather
If your baby catches a cold, cough, or other respiratory virus, there are ways to help ease the pain. Elevating baby’s head at night slightly with a small pillow or blanket will help with sinus drainage. Extra fluids including breast milk, formula, or water for babies, and water/juice or pediatric formulas such as Pedialyte for toddlers, will help with thin mucus and keep your child’s body temperature regulated while preventing dehydration. A gentle suction bulb, available at your local pharmacy, will help clear out the sinuses of small ones too young to know how to blow their noses. Ask your pharmacist or your nearest emergency room physician about proper use and sanitization processes.
Symptoms to Watch For
Unfortunately, even the best efforts by the best parents cannot always prevent emergencies. And that is okay! Your child may still catch a virus, particularly during the fall or winter. Be aware, however, of symptoms like:
- high fever
- excessive sweating
- a flushed face
- rapid breathing or other trouble breathing
- signs of internal pain or ear pain
- a cough that gets worse
- refusal to eat
Anything that would indicate your baby’s condition has progressed beyond a simple virus is cause for concern. The above symptoms are indicators that your little one needs prompt medical attention, as they could point to serious conditions such as pneumonia, flu, or similar illnesses. Take extra care with babies younger than three months old, as they are at a fragile and vulnerable age, and will have the hardest time communicating what hurts – watch closely for things like extra rubbing of their ears and/or nose, or greenish discharge from their nose or mouth. You know your baby best, so be sure to note and tell your doctor about any unusual behavior.
24-Hour Emergency Rooms Can Help
If your baby does become ill, your local SignatureCare Emergency Center’s 24-hour emergency room in Bellaire is available to help. In many locations throughout Texas, SignatureCare ERs can offer you and your tiny one the best and most immediate care.
SignatureCare Emergency Center provides board-certified emergency physicians to give exceptional care to your whole family, with the convenience of a walk-in clinic that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
They also offer an on-site testing laboratory, an average wait time of only ten minutes, state-of-the art diagnostic equipment, and patient-care specialists to help you through the process. SignatureCare’s comforting and comfortable environment makes medical emergencies easier on the whole family, with warm blankets and warm hearts for babies, children, and adults – providing peace of mind whether your baby or your whole family is sick.
Even better, SignatureCare Emergency Center ER physicians and staff work to make sure your visit and follow-ups with your regular physician are simple, easy, and seamless, so you and your doctor will have all the records you need from your visit.
With a little extra caution and a careful eye for potential dangers, your dear baby will be just fine during the upcoming fall and winter seasons – and if he or she does start to feel unwell, it may be hard to not blame yourself through that frustrating process. But, give yourself a pat on the back for doing your best, because this setback is something that will more than likely pass in no time!
Getting sick sometimes is an unfortunate fact of everyone’s life, from babyhood through adulthood. Lots of love, warmth, and tender care, as well as close communication and follow-ups with your pediatrician and other trusted professionals, will help your child feel better and be back to his or her smiling, giggly,
wide-eyed self again soon.