How many layers?
As a rule of thumb, no matter what the season, your baby will probably be at her most comfortable wearing just one layer more than you are. So if you’re going out in just a dress and thin cardigan, she’ll feel comfy in a vest, stretchsuit and lightweight cardi or jacket.
Clothing is best worn in several thin layers rather than one thick, wodgy one – and this applies to adults as well as babies and children. The reason layers are better is that warm air becomes trapped between them, insulating you much more effectively. It also means you can make more subtle adjustments to body temperature by varying the number of layers rather than just pulling off one heavy garment – and thin layers are much less bulky than heavy jumpers or sweatshirts when worn underneath coats and jackets, too.
Here’s how to check your baby is at a comfortable temperature:
- Place the back of your hand on her chest, tummy or the nape of her neck. (Feeling her hands or feet is not a good gauge of temperature, however, as newborns’ extremities often feel cool or even cold.)
- If she’s perspiring or her skin feels more than just warm to the touch, take a layer of clothing off then check again in a few minutes’ time.
- If she feels cool, add a thin layer at a time until she feels comfortable to your touch. Making regular checks is a vital practice as babies’ cooling systems are not as effective as adults’, which is why they are prone to overheating – and overheating is one of the great dangers to babies’ health and wellbeing.
There’s no need to buy a lot of extra clothing accessories for your baby, but there are a few standbys that are definitely a good idea.
In winter, add:
- a couple of pairs of socks worn together or a pair of tights with socks over. This combination will be just as warm as pram shoes (which are usually more expensive). Tip: Don’t be afraid to dress your baby boy in tights: they’ll keep him cosy, won’t show under his stretch suit and can be more practical for outdoor trips than socks, which can fall off and get lost.
- a pair of fleecy or cotton-knit mittens.
- a fleecy or cotton-knit hat: as most of her heat is lost through her head, this is essential, even under a hood if it’s not close-fitting. a cosy coat for cold weather and a snowsuit for extreme conditions (look for a snowsuit with detachable mitts and feet so it will last longer).
In summer, add:
- a cotton sunhat which covers the nape of her neck – this, along with an adjustable pram parasol, is a must for sun protection (see also Sunny Days, below).
- a lightweight cardigan for sudden drops in temperature, especially as the sun goes down.
For spring and autumn:
- a lightweight, preferably shower-proof, hooded jacket will probably come in useful.
- for walking babies, a set of waterproof trousers plus wellies are a must
Clever mums will…?
- pack two extra sets of clothes in her changing bag: one that’s the same weight as she’s wearing, and one that’s either cooler or warmer, depending on the season.
- keep a cellular blanket in the back of the pram or pushchair, even in warm weather. If the sun goes behind a cloud or you find yourself outdoors later than you had planned, this can be an invaluable piece of kit!
If you’re going to spend lengthy periods of time outdoors in very cold weather – perhaps on a skiing holiday – your baby will definitely need special clothing to keep her warm and dry.
Some gear, such as snowsuits and boots (for walking babies) can be hired in your resort if you’re having a snowy holiday, and this can be a lot more cost-effective than buying gear that will be quickly grown out of. Ask ahead of time about what is and isn’t available to hire.
You can find a limited, but affordable range of skiwear at Vertbaudet (www.vertbaudet.co.uk), a larger, discounted range at www.skiwear4less.com
and a comprehensive but pricier range at www.kidski.co.uk, amongst other retailers.
A thermal hat, gloves or mittens, and warm boots - all waterproof and well-fitting – are essential, as are a couple of layers of thermal long-sleeved vests and longjohns to go underneath.
A one-piece snowsuit is the best choice as it will keep water, snow and
mud splashes out very effectively. It’s less practical for general cold-weather conditions at home, though, as you may want to take it off whenever you take your baby inside a shop or on transport, and this can be a struggle.
In this case, a thermal, waterproof jacket with a hood – plus waterproof trousers for walking babies – is probably the better option.