Fall is here! The leaves are changing, the air smells like burning rustic, and you’ve got your pumpkin spice latte in your hand (or another beverage pertaining to autumn). What an ideal setting to take your baby out around the neighborhood.

But when fall comes, so does cooler weather. And the weather will keep getting cooler as we get closer to the winter season, and all its cold temperatures and frigid winds. So what do you do with your baby? How do you dress him or her? And when is it OK and not OK to take your little one outside during this time of year and in the coming months?

Let’s take a look at how you should dress your baby and how to decide what weather works and doesn’t work for your baby, be it in the stroller or practicing its walking skills at the local park.

Babies cannot regulate their body temperatures yet. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you dress your little one in layers, particularly one more than you are comfortable with. Also, if you really need to know how cold is too cold for your baby, if you feel cold, chances are your baby feels just as cold too.

One way to layer is to put a onesie on first, and then a warm top and pants.

In addition, it is very important to make sure your baby is not wet while outside. Always check their diaper when you are out strolling around. The wetness will make your baby feel colder, even if it is simply cool outside, like 60 degrees. So, bring a few diapers with you while you are out, but you already know that :-)

Now, this can get tricky. How should you dress your baby when you need to run errands? Or even show your little one the beautiful snow or the holiday decorations?

Better yet, should you even take your baby outside during the winter at all?

Even above-freezing temperatures can be problematic for a baby, who doesn’t know how to shiver yet to keep warm. You may want to skip introducing your child to the snow until he or she is a toddler. But if you have to get outside (and every parent wants to get out of the house, even in the winter), just bundle up your baby. Keep the head and feet covered, because that is how they lose heat the quickest. Put the mittens on and if you are using your stroller, wrap the little one in a thick blanket or a bunting. If you are using a car, keep the coat or snowsuit off because that would prevent the car seat straps from fitting easily over your baby, which you would want as wintertime can bring icy roads and all the driving problems that come with it.

Now, how will you know if your baby is cold and you need to go back indoors? According to Melanie C. Prior, MD, primary care pediatrician at the Hospital of Special Surgery in New York City, you would need to feel the hands, feet, and the nape of the neck. If those spots feel too cold, head back inside.

If your baby looks pale, is sneezing or crying, and is breathing slowly, get inside immediately. Put a blanket around you both and do skin-to-skin to warm your baby up.

When it comes to layering, aside from the onesie and the warm top and pants, you will have the bunting or warm coat to add to this pile. Make sure the bunting fully covers the feet so if your baby kicks off his or her socks or shoes (as they are likely to do!) Also, put Vaseline on your baby’s face to protect their delicate skin from the cold air.

So, when is it OK to bring your baby outdoors in cooler weather? Obviously, during the fall season, it should not be a problem as long as you dress your baby in layers. But as the temperatures continue to drop as winter approaches, you would need to judge for yourself whether a trip outside would be a good idea.

However, there may be times when you have to go outside for errands or to go to some places, and bring your baby with you. That’s when you need to practice many precautions and make sure your baby stays warm all the time. Always check to make sure your baby is not wet and is not getting cold.

It may seem overwhelming to keep your baby warm while outside, but your baby’s health will thank you for it! And you still could delight in the seasonal events and experiences, just make sure your little one is bundled up. And just think: by spring, things will get easier and you and your baby can enjoy the budding flowers.

And when fall and winter come again, your baby will be old enough to regulate temperatures a lot more, and enjoy the changing leaves and pristine snow! 

Image via Pexels by William Fortunato