Winter is here and strong winds are blowing, storm and snow is falling all over and there is limited movement outside. Your child is asking why she can’t go outside and play as they used to during summer. She doesn’t seem to understand anything about winter but she is excited and is thinking of making snowballs and snowman. First-time parents or those expecting their child in winter are wondering how to tackle this challenging season. Well, it is ideal for every parent to prepare for winter in advance so your child is kept warm and safe inside.
Things to consider when buying winter gear and clothing
choose the right size for your child. The cloth should be fitting and not too tight, buggy, or heavy.
Type of fabric
choose an attire that is comfortable and cozy-the best materials to buy are fleece, silk, wool, and cotton among others. Cotton and jeans are not advisable during winter because they absorb sweat, therefore, making the child colder.
choose warm and light clothing for the child that is not too heavy or too tight. Clothes may restrict movement when heavy and result in overheating and discomfort.
Ease of dressing
For children who are not toilet trained, choose clothes that can easily be removed and worn. This makes the work of the parent easy and less stressful and allows the child to run around freely.
Choose sweaters and jackets with cuffs that fit well on the wrist of the child. The essence of this is to keep as much heat within the body as possible.
Choose the right material type that your child’s skin is not allergic to. Some children’s skin is sensitive to a certain type of fabric e.g., silk, therefore, only choose what is suitable for your baby’s skin.
Choose light socks for the child’s leg. Choose shoes that are fitting and comfortable to a child’s leg that ensures ease of movement. Sure, the winter shoes bought for your child are closed to keep the feet warm.
Check on the cloth label if it’s waterproof or not. Waterproof materials are light and perfect for keeping the child warm and free from cold resulting from water.
Winter gear and clothing to keep warm inside
Young children and toddlers lose heat faster compared to older children and they are also prone to overheating. Therefore, while keeping your little one warm inside during winter, apply care and caution. Here are some of the ways to keep a child warm:
1. Woolen clothes
These include clothes such as woolen sweaters, woolen winter hats, and jackets for kids. Woolen sweaters help in retaining the warmth. Adding a sweater after a layer of silk and cotton cloths may just do the trick.
During the day in the house, it may be wise to dress the child in warm and light socks to keep the legs and feet warm.
3. Winter boots
Fleece winter boots are suitable to prevent the feet and toes from catching cold. Winter boots should be soft and warm inside and also non-slip for easy movement. For toddlers who run around the house, socks and boots can be used together to prevent getting too cold when stepping down.
Additional indoor fur slippers help retain the warmth on the legs as the child moves around the house. Soft and cozy slippers are suitable for children.
Mittens help keep the baby’s hands warm and to avoid them falling off, mitten clippers can be used to reinforce. Mittens are warmer than using gloves.
Gloves can be worn by toddlers and older children to prevent cold since they are always moving and touching cold surfaces. These can help keep warm both indoors and outside.
7. Sleeping bags and sacks
These are helpful during bedtime. Since babies and children turn when sleeping and can kick off blankets, you should put the child in a sleeping bag/sack. There are also sleeping bags/sacks available for older children.
If you are feeling like the baby will kick off the blanket used to cover her, wrap the baby in a swaddle to keep all the body inside, warm and cozy. Swaddles work well for babies below one year old.
9. Warm pajamas and blankets
Pajamas are available for young and older children. Dress the child in warm and comfy pajamas when going to bed. Blankets can also be used in addition to the pajamas to keep the kid warm all night long. When using blankets on young children ensure they are covered only up to the chest to avoid suffocation. Also, tack the blanket under the mattress to avoid it falling/being kicked away.
10. Thermal underwear
To avoid dressing children in layers of clothes, thermal underwear can be used to prevent heat loss. This is easier and fashionable for children during extreme cold weather in winter and also keeps the baby warm without using a thermostat.
11. Winter hats
Hats can also be used to keep the baby warm during the day but do not dress the child in a hat when she is sleeping to avoid overheating. Overheating can lead to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Winter scarf wrapped around the neck helps to keep both children and adults warm both inside and outside. Choose a scarf that is comfortable and fitting for your child.
This moisturizes the dry winter air and keeps the baby/child’s room warm to prevent sicknesses such as common cold, sore throat, and cough. The dry winter air may dry up the child’s skin therefore the humidifier moisturizes the skin. The moisture may also help unblock blocked nostrils.
14. Curtains and blinders
Use heavy curtains/blinders to cover windows to retain the warmth in the house and reduce heating costs. Close all doors and windows and only open them during the day to allow natural light from the sun to heat the house.
Use a smart thermostat to automatically warm the house. Use an automatic programmable thermostat to make it easier to warm the house from wherever you are. Research done indicates that houses are supposed to be heated at a minimum of 18°C in winter. Studies also indicate that children have lower temperature knowledge than adults and that children’s temperature comfort levels are lower than adults by 3.3°C in winter.
16. Floor rug/carpet
Heavy floor rugs/carpets can be used on hard floor surfaces to prevent cold from reaching the feet and keep warm.
17. Carbon monoxide detector
Install this around the house in every room to avoid suffocation from poisonous gas and ensure it is not installed near heat or burning appliances at home for safety reasons.
Other useful strategies to keep warm inside in winter
Other than the use of winter gears and clothing, the fooling strategies can be applied to keep the house warm:
18. Maintaining the warmth inside
Cold may enter the house through open spaces around the door, therefore, cover the bottom part of the door using heavy clothing to keep the cold out. You may also want to cover keyholes to ensure the house is warm enough for kids. Close doors for rooms that are not frequently used to retain and maintain the heat inside. Light fire at the fireplace in the hose when at home and mind the young ones around. If there is furniture blocking vents around the house, move them away to ensure every room gets maximum heat flow. Use the oven more often to spread the heat in the house. Clear anything that might be blocking the radiator and don’t put anything on it. A shelf may be added above the radiator to prevent the warm air from rising.
19. Feeding well
Since the cold lowers the body’s ability to fight infections, it is important that the child is given a well-balanced diet full of vitamin C and A. children who are already weaned and can eat on their own can be given warm drinks such as water, soups, and milk/porridge. Fruits and vegetables are healthy and rich in vitamins, therefore, aids in boosting the immune system in children. Always serve the foods to children warm. Examples of such foods are sweet potatoes, carrots, dates, kale, strawberries, oranges, etc. A healthy body needs enough energy, therefore, feeds the child carbohydrates and proteins too.
20. Staying active
Keeping the child active in the house is one way to keep her warm, fit and enhance good blood circulation. When the body catches a cold and freezes, blood doesn’t circulate thus the body becomes numb. As a parent, you can invoke creativity in your child by making pieces of art, for example, making colorful snowflakes from paper or using snowflake stamps. Making a snowman from tissue, painting snow and its components
21. Apply for support if available
While keeping warm inside, it is good to check if there is any support available for you and the family. The support can be from the local or national government or well-wishers. The aid can be in form of winter fuel, a warm grant for heating and insulation, or cold weather payments from the government.
Layering kids to keep warm during winter
Children need an additional layer than the adult, therefore, if you are wearing two layers, the child needs three layers to keep warm. The three layers include:
1. Base layer
This is the first layer and should be preferably a cloth made of synthetic, silk or wool. The cloth shouldn’t be too tight or too big to allow moisture circulation in the body.
2. Middle layer
This is the second layer of clothes that are worn over the first layer that provides an added insulation. The fabric should be a cloth a fleece jacket that is lightweight, soft, breathable and has been made from polyester.
3. Outer layer
This is the third outside layer. It should be a windproof and waterproof jacket fitted with a hood. The material should be polyester and nylon to offer maximum protection and warmth in winter.
How to tell if the child is cold or too hot
The signs to look for to tell if the baby is cold during winter include but not limited to; shivering, shaking, cold/pale/red/grayish skin color around the ears, nose, and toes, blocked/running nose, sneezing and the baby may be still or quiet. Use the thermometer to check the baby/toddler’s temperature or feel the tummy or neck with your hands to see if it is cold.
Babies and young children cannot regulate their body temperatures; therefore, overheating can cause sweating, rashes to the infant, discomfort, and eventually Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The child/baby can cry a lot due to the discomfort caused by too much heat. Studies show that overheating is related to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome which is the number one cause of death in infants below 1 year. The normal body temperatures should be between 36.5°-37.5°C and anything above 37.5°C is overheating.
Safety tips when keeping warm inside in winter
While keeping warm inside, safety tips need to be applied to avoid causing harm to toddlers who move around touching things and surfaces. Consider the following safety measures when warming the house.
- Do not use electric beds and hot water bottles. Children can’t regulate their body temperature, therefore, using these may lead to overheating
- Keep candles out of reach of children to avoid burns by touch or causing fire to the whole house.
- Always ensure hot drinks are covered.
- No hats for children/babies when sleeping to avoid dangers of overheating
- Avoid covering the child with duvets since this can cause overheating and suffocation.
- In addition to these, avoid heavy clothing and blankets. If blankets must be used, tuck them under the mattress to keep the baby warm all night and not fall off.
- Supervise and check on children every time to ensure they are dry, warm, and free from cold.
- Ensure the entire house is fitted with carbon monoxide alarms to prevent poisoning and death.
- Do not put babies next to fire or any heat source to avoid overheating and burns caused by heat.
- Keep humidifiers out of reach of children for safety reasons
- Moisturize the child’s skin immediately after a bath with a moisturizer or lotion to deal with sunburns and prevent skin from drying up.
- Ensure smoke and carbon detectors are working properly and that the house is well ventilated.
- Apply sunscreen to the area of the skin that is exposed to cold
- Ensure you have a two-way fire exit strategy in case of a breakout.
- Properly dress the child to avoid flu and any other viral or bacterial infection caused by cold.
Winter might be a tricky season for parents with babies and toddlers thus, preparations to ensure children are protected from the adverse effects that come with the cold temperatures are necessary. Here are my top six must-have winter gear and clothing for every parent: , carbon monoxide detector,, , and
 Jevons, R., et al. “Minimum indoor temperature threshold recommendations for English homes in winter–A systematic review.” Public Health 136 (2016): 4-12.
 Nam, Insick, et al. “A study on the thermal comfort and clothing insulation characteristics of preschool children in Korea.” Building and Environment 92 (2015): 724-733.
 Garcia-Souto, M. D. P., and P. Dabnichki. “Core and local skin temperature: 3–24 months old toddlers and comparison to adults.” Building and Environment 104 (2016): 286-295.
 World Health Organization. Thermal control of the newborn: a practical guide. No. WHO/FHE/MSM/93.2. World health organization, 1993.