Newborn Care During Winter Season: Here's A Complete Guide For Parents
Newborns are extremely delicate. It is important to safeguard your newborn from the harsh cold weather. Here are some guidelines from the expert which can help protect your newborns during winters.
Newborns need extra protection during the winter season to fight low temperatures effectively
- Newborn's skin is extremely delicate
- Use a moisturiser frequently to prevent dry skin
- Layer cotton under woolen to prevent irritation
The drop in temperature with the arrival of the winter season makes newborn babies vulnerable to infections such as common cold, flu etc., and predisposes them for development of skin conditions like atopy and occurrence of hypothermia (drop in body temperature). During such time, newborn babies need special care and attention to prevent infections and promote optimum growth and development. Viral infections are more common during winter and can be caused due to several possible reasons. Normally the nose and the lungs secrete mucus which traps the viruses and other microbes when they enter the airways and get cleared by cilia (projections of cells that move in one particular direction). The cold and dry winter air dries these secretions. The thick secretions cannot be cleared easily and hence it becomes easy for the microbes to infect the airways. Also, some viruses for example the rhinovirus (common cold virus), influenza viruses (flu viruses) survive better at lower temperatures and hence spread rapidly, causing outbreaks of infections during the winter months.
Tips for taking care of newborns during the winter season
How to take care of the newborn baby's tender skin during the winter season?
A new-born baby's skin is vulnerable during the harsh winter weather. Diseases like atopic dermatitis (allergic disease of the skin) worsen during the winter months. The babies are also prone to develop dry skin with peeling of its topmost layers and itching (winter dermatitis). The key to promoting healthy skin is by maintaining good hydration (water content) of the skin and avoiding overuse of skin creams/lotions. Parents can follow the instructions listed below while bathing your baby.
- Bathe your baby in lukewarm water daily or on alternate days
- Massaging the baby using oils like coconut oil, almond oil, etc., before giving a bath helps in retaining the moisture of the skin amongst other beneficial things
- Do not dry the skin completely after a bath. Use a soft cotton cloth to gently wipe water and apply a moisturiser which contains white soft paraffin soon after the bath
- Avoid using moisturisers which contain added preservatives and chemicals
- Use mild soap. There is no need to routinely use soaps containing antiseptics for bathing babies/children
- Contact your paediatrician or dermatologist if you notice very dry skin, redness, or itching.
Progression of diseases like atopic dermatitis (atopic march) can be significantly decreased by proper skincare practices early in childhood. If the parents or siblings have a history of atopy (suggested by excessive sneezing, dust allergy, asthma, skin lesions etc.,) please seek help from your doctor.
Also read: What Is Newborn Screening? Know All About It
How to maintain the normal body temperature of the baby?
Older children and adults easily adapt to the cold temperatures of winter but new-born babies are at risk of developing hypothermia (low body temperature). When the baby's temperature reaches extremely low levels, the resulting derangements can have dangerous consequences. The baby should be warm to touch, both on the abdomen/back and on the hands and feet. A thermometer may be used to check the temperature and it should be between 36.5 to 37.5 degree celsius at the axilla. One can practice the following to maintain the normal temperature of the baby.
- Dress the baby adequately
- Always cover the head as it contributes to a large part of the body surface area
- The hands and feet need to be covered
- The room temperature should be preferably maintained at 25 to 27 degrees. Use a room heater with all safety precautions if needed.
- Skin-to-skin contact (kangaroo mother care) with the mother, father or any family member is a safe, effective and scientifically proven method of maintaining normal body temperature. It is of great benefit to the new-born babies who are low birth weight or born prematurely.
- It is also important to prevent overzealous dressing of the babies as it leads to hyperthermia (excessive body temperature) which can be dangerous.
Nutrition during the winter months
Optimum nutrition is important to promote growth and development. Cold weather increases the metabolic rate and hence winter months increase the energy needs of neonates. Breastfeeding is the safest and most effective way of maintaining nutrition in new-born babies. It leads to the transfer of protective antibodies from the mother to the baby and gives protection against many infections. Infants less than 6 months must be only breastfed. Feed your baby as and when the baby demands. A balanced, comprehensive diet for the mother is important to ensure the new-born baby receives optimum nutrition. Kangaroo mother care also facilitates breastfeeding. Infants younger than one year of age should receive 400 IU of Vitamin D as a supplement.
(Dr. Sreedhara M.S, Consultant Neonatology & Pediatrics, Rainbow Children's Hospital - Hebbal, Bengaluru)
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