One of the biggest challenges of changing seasons is deciding how to dress your newborn or baby for the weather. The first thing to keep in mind is that babies generally require one layer of clothing more than adults. Dressing your baby in layers is a good first step to being prepared for almost any change in weather throughout the day or night. A onesie or undershirt is a good start to layering clothing. Add a light jacket or sweatshirt and a pair of pants or shorts and you have the perfect opportunity to adjust for the weather as you need. Hats and booties or footed clothes are good options to keep the head and feet warm. In addition to layering clothing, newborns generally require being covered with a blanket.
Keep the season in mind, as well. In the summertime, try to keep babies younger than 6 months out of the sun. If there is minimal shade, the best defense against sunburn is to cover up. Lightweight long pants and long-sleeved shirts are best, but they aren’t always comfortable or practical in extreme heat so aim for a T-shirt and long shorts. If necessary, apply sunscreen only to small areas, such as the infant’s face and back of hands and keep the rest of the body covered with clothing. Wide-brimmed hats help provide shade for the face and neck. Sunglasses can also be a fun added accessory that provide protection for the eyes. Check to make sure they have 97 to 100 percent UVA and UVB ray protection.
In the winter, several thin layers of clothing provide extra warmth. Warm boots, gloves or mittens, and a hat are a must in the wintertime. Be prepared by having an extra blanket or two handy.
Dressing for sleep can be difficult, too, due to recommendations of avoiding blankets in the crib or sleep area. Sleep clothing, like one-piece sleepers or a wearable blanket such as "sleep sacks," are preferred. If a blanket must be used to keep a sleeping infant warm, it should be tucked around the crib mattress, reaching only as far as your baby’s chest, so the infant’s face is less likely to be covered by bedding material.
This article was written by Kim Wyman, RN, a pediatric nurse on the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Answer Line.