By Adamos Chatzipanagis, paediatrician
Children who stay indoors all the time are more likely to get an illness caused by germs, than those who are properly dressed and go out in the cold.
What’s the proper way to dress a child?
In excessively protective clothes that smother and restrict the majority of children? Under no circumstances! Dress your baby the way you dress yourself. The only exception is during the first month of life, when the infant usually needs one layer of clothing more than you.
Staying at home
The temperature in the home should not exceed 23 degrees C. Don’t worry, you won’t freeze! Excessive heat, especially when the weather is cold, is not good for anyone, particularly for your little one, who doesn’t yet have the capacity to eliminate heat. If an infant gets too hot, his temperature will rise, and he is very likely to get a fever, since he can’t sweat enough to eliminate excessive heat yet. If your baby is premature, his body’s capacity to eliminate heat is even lower.
If he wears a cotton vest and his normal baby clothes, he’ll be fine.
Take care choosing the fabric your baby’s clothes are made of. His underwear and all clothes that come into contact with his skin should be made of cotton. Wool and synthetic clothes may cause eczema. Furthermore, it is better if clothes that come into contact with the skin don’t have all kinds of cute designs on them, because the majority of these are synthetic.
Central heating is the best way to heat the home. Air conditioning has several disadvantages. First of all, it dries the atmosphere, and irritates the respiratory system. This is why it should never be switched on during the night. It is very likely that your baby will become vulnerable to viruses or even to allergic conditions. No matter how often you change the air-conditioner’s filter, it still accumulates dust and smoke. The air that comes out of the machine releases dust into the atmosphere, resulting in it being inhaled, so there is an increased risk of allergies. If you do use air-conditioning, it’s better not to have it on for too long, air the room frequently, and create moisture in the room. This can be done by putting a humidifier in the room, a wet towel on the radiator, or by drying clothes in the room.
A walk to the park
Our ancestors used to say that the “cold kills germs”, and they were right. Don’t be afraid of the cold, and don’t keep your baby stuck inside the house. No child, whatever his age, is at risk from his country’s climate, in particular the climate of our country. A room that is not aired frequently has a significant increase in viral load. Think about it logically. Where are both you and your baby at risk of catching a cold? In a closed area, with lots of people coming and going, some of them coughing and sneezing and spreading germs, or out in the park in the fresh air?
All you have to do is dress your baby appropriately before taking him out for a walk. That means he’s wearing a jacket over his clothes, warm socks on his feet, and if it’s very cold, a hat and gloves. A small blanket may also be very useful.
What about excursions?
You don’t know what the weather will be like at your destination. You may start the trip with very good weather, and wake up in the morning with snow. A list of the necessary accessories will help you. First of all, don’t forget the child’s sleeping bag. It’s an absolutely necessity when taking children under the age of two years from a relatively warm place, to a place with a very low temperature of below ten degrees C.
If your destination is far away, you should also have nappies in the car, because you may need to change your baby, a small towel, and a spare vest, to dry and change the baby if he has dirtied his clothes, or has been sweating, even just a little. Take his jacket with you too, but he doesn’t need to wear it in the car, only when you get out.
Also, don’t forget to take socks, gloves, and a hat with you.
Children of this age don’t have much hair, and their heads get cold, so hats are necessary.
Excursions with a child 1-2 years old
You don’t need to overdress your child, especially not in the car. A cotton vest, with a sweatshirt on top will keep the child warm. However, as soon as you reach your destination, and get out of the car, he should wear his jacket. Children of this age will be moving about, and they sweat a lot, so change their clothes often.
At this age, the type of shoes your child wears is very significant. Both shoes and boots should be warm and steady. The child will run and play, and he may slip if he isn‘t wearing appropriate footwear. In addition, shoes should be durable and waterproof. It is useful to have a second pair of boots with you and several pairs of socks, so you can dry your child’s feet, and change his socks if his boots get wet. Choose leather footwear, and ski gloves, which have a water-proof covering.
Hats are not quite as necessary for children of this age, or a little older. However, it’s useful to have several cotton vests with you to change the child as soon as he gets sweaty. This is not a problem during play. To prevent your child from sweating while playing, don’t overdress him, but put another layer on when he takes a break, and after you have dried him well.
Children of this age can enjoy the outdoors as much as you, of course without excess. Don’t leave your baby out in the cold for endless hours.