Sunday, November 23, 2014

Baby, it’s cold outside

Posted By on Sun, Nov 23, 2014 at 8:00 AM

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The cold came in last week strolling in like a houseguest and staying too long. Now we must think about dressing our baby appropriately.

My wife was pregnant during the summer, which meant the air conditioner hummed along at full blast all day, every day. I turned it off as often as I could, but she always found out. She couldn’t get the house cold enough. I broke out the winter coat early and walked around our place in a parka. When other people were heading indoors to cool off, I was stepping outside to warm up.

Now she’s back to treating the thermostat as a throttle — I let her crank the heater up to full power. When one wrong move can mean frostbite, it pays to be extra cautious with your baby. Little fingers and tiny noses get cold quickly. When you have a nose that sticks as far out into the wind as mine does you learn to value a warm nose and hope it upon others.

The good news is that our baby is not the first one in the world, and many of our questions have the answers written down somewhere. The problem is that everybody tells you their answers — always different, much of it contradictory — so it's best to read up on your baby manual and follow the maintenance schedule consistently.

There are two books I flip through and dog-ear most often for baby information. The first is What to Expect the First Year, which is re-released every year with a new contradiction. It’s best to get one edition and stick with it.

The second book is Le Leche, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, but it doesn’t have much information on dressing for cold weather. Our edition has yellowed and carries information that was acceptable in the 1980s. Babies haven’t changed all that much since then, but the guidelines and the mothers have. The mothers on the pages all have big hair, sprayed into stiff waves above their foreheads.

Both books are bulky to carry and attract attention, and I get a few odd looks every now and then for having peculiar interests.

Layering is still the name of the game here in cold Colorado, which is good because we were gifted with many layers to put on our baby. I bought him a nice Denver Broncos turtleneck for Sundays, but his neck is not long enough for it yet.

The books tell us that babies can’t regulate their temperatures as easily as adults can. (I hardly put any effort into regulating mine.) And It’s recommended that you put one more layer on your baby than you put on yourself. We get him bundled and zipped until he is a tiny face in a lion’s mane of fabric. I have to squeeze his legs just to make sure he’s still inside there somewhere.

It’s best to get an outer layer that is water resistant too. (Go for a fleece layer inside.) The snow and rain will roll off, as will frequent spit-ups. Wool pea coats tend to soak in the flavors.

The majority of a baby’s body heat escapes from the head. It’s understandable when you see the way a baby is proportioned. Get a fleece hat with earflaps. My wife likes the ones with the little bear ears on top, but that’s not necessary. But you do want to make sure to get one that buttons under his chins. It won’t take many head-turns for the baby to spin the hat all the way around. He’s not bothered much by it so he’ll be staring into the earflap long before he lets you know about it.

Keeping him warm at night is important too. You can’t put any blankets, bumpers, or stuffed animals (the things we '80s babies survived through) in the cribs these days. Our Le Leche book says it’s OK, but all that stuff is a suffocation hazard in 2014, which is a shame because we had a very nice quilt made for him. Not such a loss, he probably would have just kicked it off like he does with every other blanket we put over him.

Sleep has actually become the easiest recipe to follow because of all the regulations. You just put him in a sleep sack, swaddle him if you want, set the crib to 70 degrees and don’t touch again until he stirs.

The important thing is to be quick to keep your baby comfortable, especially in Colorado where the weather is fickle, and sometimes the indoor climate can be as unpredictable as the outdoors.

Pico spent his childhood years in the Springs. Now, as a father, he's seeing the city (and life) in a different light. Follow him on twitter at @DavidXPico.

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