Keeping Newborns Warm in Winter Weather

New parents will see a myriad of different snowsuits and jackets for newborns, and if you’re like we were, you might already have one. As new parents, we weren’t aware that some of the things we were doing to keep our newborn safe were actually presenting more of a danger than not, one of which would be those adorable little bear suits.bear suit

Car seats and winter coats (or anything that requires the straps be loosened to fit on baby) are a big no-no! The cute little suits are great for walking about and what not, but definitely not safe for the car! Thankfully, we never had to learn this the hard way. To make sure baby is safe (this goes for ANY age child), put your child in the car seat and buckle them in (with the jacket/suit in question on them). Make sure to tighten straps to whatever you normally would, place chest clip level with armpits, etc. Now, undo the buckles and take baby/child out without loosening the straps. Remove baby/child from jacket/suit and place them back in the car seat and buckle them up. If the straps are too loose, the item they were wearing is NOT safe. However loose those straps are at that moment are how loose they would be if your little one was in the car seat wearing that item if you got in a crash. The padding compresses and your little one could slip right out.

So what can you do to keep baby warm during those cold months? Here are a few things we’ve done since learning about the proper car seat safety for jackets:

car blanket

  • Warm the car up
  • Keep a blanket in the car
  • Poncho
  • Hats!!!
  • Mittens / flip-sleeves
  • Keep a jacket/hoodie (weather dependent) in the car
  • Have a designated ‘transfer’ blanket
  • Have fleece items
  • Babywear

As a general rule, we keep a blanket in the trunk at all times. You never know when you might break down and need a blanket. We now keep two simple fleece throws in the car as well. With a newborn (or very young infant), however, I’d stick to the small stroller-sized blankets. A nice, plush blanket covering from chest clip down will keep them nice and toasty.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnother way to keep your little one warm is a car poncho. A friend of mine custom-made us a poncho for my oldest and it has been a great help for cold days. It is a double-layered fleece poncho (reversible) and it does a fantastic job keeping him warm. Since my husband got confused on how to put him in his seat with it yesterday, I thought I’d include a little insight into how they work. Once your little one is sitting in the seat, lift the backside of the poncho over the back of the seat so it’s not between your little one and the seat. Just reach under the front of the poncho and put the straps over arms and buckle up.

Hats are any new parent’s best friend! We had a variety of hats that we used until our little one was 5 months old. We kept some in the diaper bag, in the car, and at home, and almost always on him as well. As your little one grows, you will find hats that will cover their ears, too. I love these because they don’t slip and expose ears to wind, or cover your little one’s eyes and make them upset.hat picture

Keeping mittens on hand (even the thin ones) will help keep your little one’s fingers warm, and possibly prevent them from scratching themselves up, too. Also look for shirts, onesies, jackets, or other such items that have the flip-sleeves on them that will flip over your newborn’s hands to enclose them within the sleeve. They are fabulous, especially since you can’t lose it.

For milder weather or windy weather, we keep a hoodie in the car for everyone. A lightly lined zip-up hoodie can easily be put on baby to help keep them warm when you get to your destination. The same goes for jackets, though we grab those and put those in the car as we are leaving since we don’t tend to have more than one winter jacket.

Fleece items (pants, shirts, thin fleece jackets, etc.) are great for keeping children warm and are generally carseat safe. They are also relatively inexpensive, so might be a good investment to have a few items as a back up in the diaper bag since newborns love to mess an outfit one way or another.

We adopted transfer blankets with our children. We got a blanket that was probably made for a toddler bed (if they were a bit older), or really plush/insulated crib/stroller blankets and they were designated only for use to take baby to and from the car. We made sure we wouldn’t be upset if these blankets got dirty or damaged, because their sole purpose was to cover our little one and protect them from the elements until they were in the safety of the car.

Finally, BABYWEAR! Babywearing will keep your little one nice and warm thanks to your body heat. I especially love wraps for this, as they protect baby from the elements more since they cover more of their body. You can also get a size larger in a fleece or lined zip-up hoodie for yourself and zip it up part way to help shield baby (or use your winter jacket if appropriate). Baby should still have a hat, of course, but this will definitely keep baby warmest in cold weather. Although you normally would be careful when you walk in winter weather conditions, please be especially careful if you’re babywearing.

Christine Kangas is a cloth diapering, baby-wearing, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, ‘green’ mother of two. She was a full-time working mother actively looking to return to the workforce. She writes on her own blog: Thoughts of Fluff.

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