Dressing a hot-running baby for winter
January 7, 2017 7:27 PM   Subscribe

Just when I figured out the car sear cover and baby sleeping bag, it turns out my baby runs hot and won't wear what he's supposed to. So how can I make sure he is warm enough, without over-heating him?

Baby just turned 11 weeks and is generally cheerful and happy. About an hour after getting dressed for bed tonight in footed sleeper and long-sleeved sleep sack (it's super-cold here) he randomly started to scream like he was in pain. We were worried because he had his shots yesterday so I checked him temp and it was slightly high. At that moment, he pooped so I changed his diaper and as soon as I took the the blanket off, he smiled and relaxed.

Husband suggested we wait on the Tylenol since he seemed comfortable again. Sure enough, twenty minutes later his temp was back to normal and he was happily playing on his mat.

In hindsight, a few of his cranky moments make sense now. This is why he hates baby-wearing. And sweaters with hoods (it has been near-impossible to find baby long sleeves without hoods). And the car seat ever since we put the winter cover on it. Therein lies my dilemma. How can I actually dress him sensibly for the weather given his tendency to over-heat? It seems like such a fine line at this age between too cold and too hot. But he can't sleep in just a sleeper, in Canada, in winter, can he? And in the car seat, he can't wear a coat for safety reasons so surely he needs to have some kind of layer? Should I assume he'll cry if he's cold just like he does when he's hot? What is the minimum a hot-running baby should actually be wearing?
posted by ficbot to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total)
What's the temperature in the room the baby is in? A fleece sleeper and a sleep sack sounds like overkill to me.
posted by k8t at 7:34 PM on January 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Our pediatrician said "One more layer than you are wearing" was just fine. Also at 11-weeks it may just be a matter of persisting and letting them get used to a new situation. As k8t said, what is the room temperature?
posted by nickggully at 7:55 PM on January 7, 2017

My kid slept in a t shirt and a diaper. Babies don't need to be muffled up much, rude grandmothers notwithstanding. ("Put a hat on that baby!" was a frequent remark.) Yes, children will let you know if they're chilly but unless you keep your house hella cold your kid is not going to get hypothermia.
posted by Peach at 7:56 PM on January 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

totally depends on interior temperature as pointed out above. How warm do you keep your house and car? If you're comfortable in the car without a coat on, there's no reason to assume the kid is cold.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:17 PM on January 7, 2017

We keep the house at 55 overnight (it's colder in the sleeping rooms b/c of thermostat location, but not a lot colder) and the baby sleeps in a lightweight cotton footed sleeper + sleepsack. Even heavyweight cotton + sleepsack is too much. But I think the sleepsack isn't so much for warmth, honestly, as for an intermediate step between swaddling and free legs (all of my babies have slept more comfortably with the sleepsack somewhat restricting their leg movement after they outgrew the swaddle. They could be just as warm in a heavy blanket sleeper but then their legs kick freely and my kids didn't like that).

As far as the car seat goes, a lot of people around here do use those sleeping-bag-type covers, but we never have. If you're going from the house to the car, and the car to the store, and not going snowshoeing, it's enough to have the baby in their indoor clothes, a heavy sweater or thin coat (thin enough to be safe under the straps, I mean), a hat, and then just tuck a blanket around them. If it's very windy I'll use the blanket as a sort of tent to keep them out of the wind during the trip to the car, but you're basically moving from one climate-controlled location to another without that much time in The Actual Cold.

For checking for whether they're too warm or cold, check their fingers (and, if bare, toes) to see if they're notably hot/cold, and stick your hand down their back and feel their torso to see if they seem hot/cold/sweaty. (For example, those fleece sleepers don't breathe very well; sometimes they're perfect but sometimes babies can get very hot and sweaty in them, I've found.)

No matter how you dress your baby nosy people in parking lots and supermarkets will take it upon themselves to inform you You're Doing It Wrong, so don't take it too personally when some horrified busybody is like "WHY IS THAT CHILD NOT WEARING A HAT?" Literally every parent has experienced the joy of the busybody who thinks your child is not properly dressed for the weather. They have no idea whether or not your child needs a hat.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:27 PM on January 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

No clue what the exact temperature is but it's a drafty older building. I feel cold much of the time, but I'm sensitive to that. Baby takes after his father , who does not notice the cold. And for what it's worth, husband thinks it's fine for the baby to sleep in 'whatever he wants to' but he is also a much less anxious parent than me.
posted by ficbot at 8:30 PM on January 7, 2017

Fingers and feet are not representative of body temperature, as per my pediatrician. Check at the back of their neck. My kids get super sweaty there easily, so I never used blanket sleepers or sleep sacks. If they are cold in the nape of their neck, they are really too cold.
posted by The Toad at 9:59 PM on January 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

We live in New Jersey in the U.S. not Canada but it gets pretty cold, windy, and dry here. My son runs warm as well. He pretty much always wears: jeans or cotton pants, a long-sleeved white onesie with a t-shirt over it. (My son also haaaaated hoods when he was your baby's age. He got over it but I would despair of all the cute, hooded shirts he had that he loathed.) He wore those Zutano booties because they would actually stay on his feet most of the time. For outside, he wore a knitted hat and we tucked a blanket around him. No coat for car seat safety reasons. This was always fine, though people tutted me about it. I think we had one light fleece jacket that I got from Carter's.

Now he and I have a deal about the hated hats. He will wear them until we get to the car and then he takes them off and flings them.

You might have to have several experiments about bedtime dressing. Like, maybe put him in the sleep sack wearing just a onesie and a diaper, maybe with socks on his little feet if they seem cold. Check the back of his neck after he's been asleep for awhile. Is it all sweaty? Is the skin cool? Try just a sleeper one night. Check on him after awhile. Or bundle him up the way you do now but run a fan. I always had the ceiling fan on for SIDS paranoia reasons so that helped keep him cool.

My son (now 16 months) sleeps in our bed and is warm and pink-cheeked and comfortable in his footie pjs and one blanket while my husband and I are bundled up in flannel pjs and two blankets each. If he rolls against me in his sleep, it's like a live coal against my back. He's just a really warm kid. I fretted a lot about his temperature when he was younger though.
posted by Aquifer at 10:01 PM on January 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

It is worth getting some kind of temperature monitoring system for the room- ergo cocoons (sleeping bags) come with free disposable ones which give you the room temp and the recommended sleeping bag weight. As others have implied, it doesn't really matter at all how cold it is outside, only how cool/warm it is until the room, so work that out first and go from there.
posted by jojobobo at 10:21 PM on January 7, 2017

As another hot sleeper who gets miserable and irritable when cooked overnight, parent to another hot sleeper who gets miserable and irritable when cooked overnight, and partner to a wonderful woman who needs way more insulation overnight than I do, I second your husband's suggestion to let bub sleep in whatever he likes.

If he's sweaty, remove a layer.
posted by flabdablet at 2:29 AM on January 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Our house is kept at 55 at night (old drafty house). Baby Kitty sleeps in a long sleeve onesie and a fleece footed pajama. He hates his sleep bag with a passion and always has. He will kick and fuss all night if we try to layer him up further, so we have now given up on "how we should be dressing the baby" and just let him be comfortable.

Not all babies will follow "the rules" when it comes to what experts tell you. All kids are different, so don't stress too much if what works for your kid isn't what is the "recommended" approach. The goal is a happy, healthy baby. How you get there doesn't really matter.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 2:47 AM on January 8, 2017

My kids never liked sleep sacks or fleece PJs. They both slept in cotton PJs (and my 2.5 year old still does, refusing a blanket... My 4 year old has a blanket now) and are just fine. I did put a cotton sleeveless or short-sleeved onesie under their PJs when they were babies on the nights I thought it was really cold, and they tolerated that - might be worth trying.
posted by amro at 4:51 AM on January 8, 2017

Get an actual thermometer for the kid's room. The baby-specific ones will actually highlight the correct room temp which I believe is 20-21C. My other half always feels colder than me so her instinct was to put more clothes/blankets on the baby because she thought the room was "cold", when actually the temperature was fine. The thermometer gives you a reality check as to whether extra covers are actually needed.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:03 AM on January 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

We did a onesie and socks under footie pjs when our baby went through a phase of not wanting to be swaddled. I also kept the heat turned up to 69 or 70 F during winter, which is about ten degrees higher than I normally would.
posted by areaperson at 6:25 PM on January 8, 2017

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