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How cold is too cold for my baby?

If you are a first-time mother, the chances are, you already know that your actions, your reactions, and your decisions are being judged by the whole world, including your family. Some people do it deliberately, some subconsciously. Suddenly, the fact that you become a parent, it's almost like you get a huge sign around your neck that says, "Please, JUDGE ME." The fact that you judge yourself is not enough. When hearing what people think you should be doing with your child from all sides, I wonder if it is really that helpful? More or less, I see it every day. Yes, it is incredibly annoying and often makes me second-guess myself, but I consciously try to remind myself of my "can-do" attitude and abilities.

Currently, the number one question is: "Why don't you take your daughter outside? <...> Everyone does it, why don't you? <…> It is not healthy for her to stay inside. <…> It is so beautiful outside, take her out more often", and so on and so on.

This early morning, I was scrolling through Facebook posts, and one of them in the international group for mothers in Norway caught my eye. I am not alone. There are mothers out there who doubt themselves if they should take their babies out to sleep and play these days. It is pretty cold outside (- 17°C). So, I wrote this post to share my experience, considering this is our second winter together.

While having babies in their prams outdoors for a nap is pretty much a norm in Scandinavia. I often question the "monkey see, monkey do"-mentality. I like knowing the reason why. At this point, I do not question the benefits of napping or spending time outside. Actually, when I was applying for a nursery for my daughter, one of the criteria I was considering was - how long they spend outdoors. However, I question when it becomes too cold for my baby? Based on my research, I came to the following conclusion.

Every family has their own personal "Brrr.., baby, it's too cold outside today!" We start hunkering down indoors below 0°C on a cloudy day and -5°C on a sunny day in our family. Although we will keep our outings reasonably short – 20 to 30 minutes and not far from home at those temperatures. We consider it simply too cold, and the risk is too high that our little one will be susceptible to hypothermia or frostbite.

In general, it is not recommended to take children under three years old outside for an extended time when the temperature falls below -10°C. However, it is important to consider the strength of the wind and precipitation because a thermometer can show -8 °C, but it actually can feel like - 14°C. For instance, this weekend was sunny, yet we enjoyed Saturday a bit more, a bit longer, because there was a stronger wind on Sunday. Cold air is dry because it holds less moisture than warm air. And, because the humidity is so low in the wintertime, little moisture that is around is quickly sucked up into the air. Therefore, moisture evaporates more rapidly from a body. This evaporation dries out your skin, makes a desert of the inside of your nose, and leaves your throat parched. For example: breathing in dry, cold air irritates your airways. Though our bodies are designed to respond to air temperature changes, some bodies are more efficient at these processes than others. For instance, “people of the same height and weight can differ dramatically in their ability to maintain a healthy body temperature. In much the same way, different people can exhibit very different levels of sensitivity when outside conditions are jeopardizing their ability to conserve or dissipate heat.” (1)

Babies/ toddlers are still developing, their bodies are still learning, so they are more sensitive to changes in temperature and may have a stronger reactions. In fact, I just recently found out that cold air can even trigger asthma or other breathing problems. At the moment, Mia does not sleep outside; instead, we go for a walk or to play, and when we do go out, we wool-up. Depending on the weather, we wear two even three layers of clothes. And wool being always our first layer because wool keeps the heat better than cotton.


1. Why Kids Don't Feel Cold the Same Way Adults Do | Ankeny ....

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