Fresh air and exercise is wonderful for everyone, and if you are used to being outdoors and active you want to include your baby in what you love to do. This can be a challenge when it’s cold and wintry.
Parents sometimes think that they have to give up their favourite winter activities once they have a baby, and indeed, if you are downhill skier you might need to wait a couple of years before you can take your little one with you on the slopes.
But if you are a cross country skier, snowshoer or just like to walk in cold crisp air, you can take your baby along.
The biggest concerns when you include your baby in your outdoor winter activities are safety and warmth.
If you are cross country skiing or snowshoeing you want to be sure that your baby is absolutely secure. If your baby is very small (under 6 months) most parents prefer to carry their babies close to their bodies for warmth and security. It’s important to use a carrier that is very ergonomically designed and that holds the baby securely against you so your centre of gravity is maintained. For the youngest babies we prefer a baby wrap like the Moby Wrap as it allows you to have your baby securely tucked against you without throwing you off balance. Once your baby is four or five months old he or she can move to a carrier that can be worn front or back. We prefer the soft, frameless Ergo Baby Carrier as the baby is still very close to your body, helping you maintain your balance and center of gravity.
Most importantly. if you are cross country skiing you want to keep to tracked, maintained, level trails so that your risk of falling is minimalized. Never go too far or for too long in case your baby gets distressed, cold or unhappy.
There are certainly some people who believe you should never ever cross country ski wearing your baby, but many people do. If you are going to, than be sure to use the safest, most secure carriers you can, and ski in safe tracks with level terrain.
In terms of warmth, if you are active and moving with your baby in the cold, you must remember that while you are getting warmer by the minute as you move along, your baby is actually stationary and being propelled through space (albeit in a carrier or stroller). He or she is therefore getting colder as you get warmer. So it is essential that you dress your baby with this in mind.
As with adults, layering is the most effective warmth preserver for babies. The number of layers you need depends, of course, on how cold it is. If you are in a Northern climate where it’s cold and dry, you’ll want to maximize your layers. If it’s colder than -10C (15 F) you don’t want to keep your baby out more than about an hour. If you are in a more temperate climate, or heading into spring skiing, you don’t need as many layers and can stay out longer. Use your common sense.
To dress your baby for maximum warmth:
● Begin with a base layer such as merino wool. Your base layer should included tops, bottoms. socks, mittens and a balaclava type head piece. Wool has many wonderful features that naturally keep babies warm and comfortable. The base layer can be be followed with a fleece layer.
● Follow with a comfortable one piece footed sleeper
● Follow with a fleece layer, either as a separate bunting bag or as part of a two layered snowsuit such as the Molehill Shelled Snowsuit
● Follow with a windproof, seam sealed waterproof layer such as the Molehill 2.5 All Weather bunting, or, as above use the two layered Molehill Shelled Snowsuit.
● If you are in a cold dry area you can choose to use a one piece down baby snowsuit as your outer layer,
● Keep your baby’s hands and feet extra warm. For hands, waterproof, fingerless, shelled mittens are best. The Down Snowsuit also has foldover mittens to go over all.
● For warm feet, our favourite combination is wool socks, Padraig Wool Slippers followed by Molehill Shelled, waterproof, windproof booties.
● More heat is lost through the head than any other part of the body. Top your baby off either with a “bomber” style hat – either shelled or down, or the hood of a one piece snowsuit. Remember to have the close fitting base layer hat under this layer.
Sounds kind of complex, but once you get used to layering your baby you will find the combinations of layers that work for each temperature and condition. When you are out in the cold with your baby be sure to check on thim or her regularly to see if their extremities are still warm. They can’t tell you if they are cold. It’s up to you to make sure they are ok!!!!
Don’t skimp on the outerwear you get for your baby. It is absolutely critical that be kept warm and dry!
Parents who take their babies outdoors with them in the winter have wonderful memories of smiles, giggles and squeals of delight. With the right attention to safety and warmth you too can build those memories for your family.