Is It Bad to Take a Baby on a Walk in Winter?
The cold, snowy weather might make you want to hunker down and stay inside where it's toasty and warm, but it's a good idea to get some fresh air, even during those long winter months. Your baby is susceptible to certain dangers when she's exposed to cold weather, but with the right amount of bundling and a few simple precautions, it's perfectly safe to take your baby for a walk during the winter.
Bundling your baby against the cold weather is the first step in going outside for a refreshing winter walk. Dress your baby in long sleeves and long pants, and include a pair of socks. Two or three thin layers can help shield your baby from the chilly temperatures, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. A good rule is to dress your baby in one layer more than you're wearing. Put a warm, heavy winter coat over the clothing and add mittens, a warm hat and boots, if needed.
Length of Time
The length of your walk is dependent on several factors. Watch your baby for signs of being too cold, such as red cheeks or fussiness. If your baby looks like she's uncomfortable, head back home. The outside temperature is another factor. If the temperature is below freezing, you might just want to take a quick walk around the block, and if the temperature plunges below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, it's probably better to save the walk for a warmer day. Check the wind chill, too. It can make the air feel much colder than the temperature, which can make it too cold for a long walk. If the temperature is in the warmer 35- to 40-degree range, your walk can last a bit longer.
If your baby is bundled up and you don't stay out too long, it's safe to be outside. There are dangers associated with cold weather if you don't take those necessary precautions, though. Babies who aren't dressed properly for the weather are susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia occurs if your baby isn't dressed appropriately, and it causes lethargy, confusion and severe shivering. Frostbite occurs if your baby's skin is exposed to very cold temperatures. It causes the skin to become discolored, hard to the touch and painful. Sunburn might not cross your mind during the winter months, but it's another concern that's entirely plausible, no matter how cold it is outside. In fact, snow can reflect up to 85 percent of the sun's rays, according to the KidsHealth.org. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen for babies older than 6 months. If your baby is under 6 months old, ask your pediatrician about sun safety.
Additional Tips and Considerations
If you're worried about your baby getting cold, tuck one or two thin blankets around her once she's strapped into the stroller. The blankets add extra warmth if needed and can be easily removed if your baby gets too warm. If it's the exercise you're longing for, consider taking your baby to the mall or a museum. You can walk as much as you want while you and your baby stay warm and dry. Most babies don't care where you walk, as long as there is plenty to look at.