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Many moms over-bundle babies in cold

February 17, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
We've been through some pretty cold, wintry weather and the forecast predicts evening temperatures for the next few days into the 30s and 40s. It's pretty nippy out there, especially for the little ones. So do you know how to keep your baby bundled up? Experts say you probably don't.You layer, pack and bundle. But how much is too much when it comes to winterizing your baby? Experts say there's a point where bundling can be too much. More is not always better.

"'My baby's hands and feet feel cold.' That's not a good measure for temperature," explains parenting consultant Dr. Yvonne Gustafson, PhD. "Little hands and feet, the circulation is a little different. Where we would check for warmth and comfort is at the back of the neck."

And how do you know just how many layers to use?

"The general rule of thumb is one more layer than momma," said Dr. Gustafson.

There is no need to crank up the heat either. Babies are perfectly fine with room temps ranging from 68 to 75 degrees.

Another mistake new moms make is draping blankets over the baby's car seats and strollers. It's okay outside, but indoors?

"It makes no sense to leave that baby in this closed environment for an hour or two while you're shopping," said Dr. Gustafson.

When a baby's face is covered for too long it can cause re-breathing. Re-breathing is associated with sleep-related deaths, SIDs and can cause general distress.

But what if baby catches a cold?

"A cold is never going to kill you." said pediatrician Dr. Deborah Lonzer.

Cold medicines can be dangerous for children. Dr. Lonzer says your best bet is a vaporizer to clear congestion. Honey for children over one will help calm coughs. Try saline nose drops if your baby is stuffed up.

"You put a quarter teaspoon of salt in an eight ounce glass of water, and you have saline nose drops," said Dr. Lonzer.

With the right amount of winterizing, you can keep them happy all season long.

Dr. Gustafson also says that parents should not use bulky coats in car seats without having an expert re-adjust the seat for safety. Big blankets can also have an impact on car seat reliability.

Web Extra Information:

BACKGROUND:

For many, winter means protecting your plants and protecting your car. For some, it means protecting your baby. Since babies are more susceptible to infection and more vulnerable to cold weather, it's common sense to spend extra time shielding them from the elements.

HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?

Although it may be tempting to bundle your baby up like an Eskimo to keep out the cold, too many layers can actually be dangerous. Using too many blankets can pose a suffocation hazard. When it comes to car seats, bulky clothing can compromise the way straps restrain a baby, and blankets over the seat can create bad air quality. More specifically, they can increase the risk of your baby breathing in carbon dioxide. Breathing in carbon dioxide increases a baby's risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

SICK SEASON:

Winter is a cold season in more than one sense of the word. In the United States, most colds occur when temperatures outside are chilly. According to the National Institutes of Health, the rate of the common cold increases slowly for a few weeks in late August or early September and remains high until March or April. Contrary to popular belief, it isn't the temperature itself that causes colds. The seasonal high may be related to the opening of schools and the fact that more children spend time indoors during cold weather. It may also be related to the fact that the most common cold viruses survive better in dry conditions like those present in the winter season.

Keeping your baby safe in the winter season includes properly treating illnesses like colds. Most likely, over-the-counter medications are the first treatments that come to mind, but an increasing body of evidence warns parents to be cautious about them. One recent study conducted by researchers at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh found of the 274 children admitted to the emergency department with life-threatening symptoms, 5 percent tested positive for over-the-counter cold medications.

The American Academy of Pediatrics takes a strong stand on the issue of over-the-counter cough and cold medications for babies. They recommend the products not be given to children younger than 2 years of age because of the risk of life-threatening side effects. They cite research that suggests the medications are dangerous for babies and don't work in children younger than 6 years of age.


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