(updated October 9, 2016)
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My son entered this world last December, greeted by a a winter that was described by many as the most miserable that New York City has seen in a while. Despite the polar vortexes and snow records, once he hit the two week mark I managed to take him out every single day (besides three particularly blustery ones). Unfortunately, Accuweather is forecasting another cold snowy winter. If you are expecting a winter baby, here are some survival tips:
Find Mommy Friends
I'm sure that your existing friends are wonderful, but you need to spend time with people going through the same stage to maintain your sanity. I met many neighborhood new moms through other friends and local mom groups. If you can, join a local expectant moms group and seek out other women who are due close to your due date. I got a head start by getting to know some of these women before my baby arrived.
My doctor advised against taking the baby to indoor spots like coffee shops or having him around older kids until he got his first vaccines at about two months. So, my new mom friends and I had lots of group get togethers at each others' homes. We would do the same things we would all be doing at home, just in each other's company -- feeding, changing diapers, etc. Being a new mom can be lonely, having a community of new mom friends makes you feel normal.
Now that my son is almost ten months, we still get together with the same group at least once a week and we are even planning a joint birthday celebration for five of the little ones.
Dress Baby in Layers
I overdid it for my first outing with S and when I took him out at my destination, which was only ten minutes away, he was all sweaty. One benefit of dressing baby in layers is that you can make adjustments.
The first time that I took him out other than in and out of the car, he was wearing an outfit, a track suit and was wrapped tightly in 7A.M. Nido (see below), plus he was in his bassinet covered by a canopy and a wind cover. I also had a blanket handy just in case. For the way home, I left the track suit off and wrapped the 7A.M. Nido much more loosely.
I'm not knocking track suits, S got a bunch as baby gifts and got a ton of use out of them. He initially wore them over other winter outfits as outerwear (such as when I wore him in a baby carrier) and later over onesies as an outfit.
Car Seat Safe Bunting
To keep your child safe in the car, there shouldn't be any thick or puffy layers between him and the car seat straps. You have a few choices
- The 7A.M. Nido -- this is what I used. It has a large cutout in the back, so you put it on after strapping the baby in. If baby gets too warm, you simply open the velcro at the front like a coat to let some air in. I also used it as a bunting all winter in the bassinet of my stroller, I simply gathered it up under my son so that the hole was under him. I got it in the size small. You could try to get away with the larger one to be able to use it for the next winter too.
- A shower cap style bunting bag. I bought one of these during my third trimester before discovering the 7A.M. Nido. Instead of returning it, I gave it to my friend and she was happy with it. It is a less expensive option than the 7A.M. Nido.
- Layer the baby and tuck swaddle blankets around the baby after strapping him in.
You could hold off on buying one til next year and just use the 7 A.M. Nido as I did. For this upcoming winter, I purchased the 7 A.M. ENFANT Blanket 212 Evolution Extendable Baby Bunting Bag, which can be used in the stroller with an infant.
Booties, Hats, and Mittens
I have another post with a lot more details on this topic. In short, it is hard to find products in each of these categories that stay on. I used booties in the house instead of socks the majority of the time, as they stayed on much better. In each of these categories I recommend Zutano when you are looking to stay very warm and Goumikids when you just need a lighter layer, they are both well designed and will not fall off easily.
Yes, this is a real thing! These attach to the handlebar of your stroller and you slip your hand through and hold on to the handlebar through them. I know they sound like a gimmick, but I found them really convenient. It is a lot easier to pull your hands out of these to tend to your baby and then quickly put your hands back in than it is to pull your gloves off and then put them back on. I got the ones with the faux shearling lining, but they also make them with a fleece lining. I found them to be really warm.
Wear Your Baby With Caution
Baby carrying is wonderful, but I avoided it when there was snow or possibly ice on the ground, as I was afraid of slipping with the baby. If you plan to baby wear in the winter, make sure that your boots have good traction. For help with choosing a carrier and tips on what else to carry when carrying your baby, see this post.
There are all kinds of coats that are specifically designed for carrying a baby, there are also carrier covers for baby, some of which also work as stroller buntings. I found that having the baby against me generated a lot of heat. I simply wore a fleece zipped over both me and the baby and a lightweight down jacket either open or zipped up to his butt (it wouldn't zip any higher). Sometimes I just tucked a swaddle around him and wore my jacket partially open. I may not have looked fashionable but he and i were both comfortable and warm.
Keep Saline Drops on Hand
My doctor told me that the less I do to the baby the better, so he recommended against aspirating a stuffy nose. He did OK using saline drops to clear away crusty gunk. We ended up using individual vials of preservative free saline eye drops as they contain the same stuff, without preservatives and remain sterile.
Lots of friends recommended the Nose Frida. I bought one, but based on my doctor's advice never used it. You, of course, should seek your own doctor's advice.
Consider the Snow When You Stroller Shop
I had no trouble getting around while there was lots of snow on the ground with my Bugaboo Cameleon stroller. Occasionally, I would need to lift up the smaller front wheels and handle a snow bank with just the larger wheels. I went on a lot of walks with my friend who has the Bugaboo Bee and she had a much harder time in the snow and regrets her purchase for that reason.
What tips do you have for getting through a harsh winter with a newborn?