I was worried we’d be stuck indoors once the temperatures began to plummet, but Sonny’s as happy outside now as he was in summer. Here are my top tips for beating the cold with kids.
Obviously the dark nights and cold weather bring their own challenges in terms of preparing to head out with a baby, and the clothing you use has a huge impact on their enjoyment of each trip, but I’ve been amazingly impressed with how well our 8-month-old lad has adapted to the changing seasons.
Sonny still accompanies me on dog walks, hillwalks, countryside strolls and pretty much every other kind of outdoor trip I can get away with this close to Christmas, and the key thing is preparation. Here are my top tips…
Get a good hat
Not only do they look amazingly cute in little woolly hats, but keeping a baby’s bonce warm is a big deal. You know when your head and ears get cold, so you pull up your hood or stick on a hat? Can you imagine that feeling for a baby who’s never experienced the winter before? And can you then imagine not being able to do anything about it? Babies can’t tell you how they feel or how cold they are, and just because they might not look cold doesn’t mean they aren’t.
Vests, jumpers, cardigans, coats, blankets and body suits are all vital bits of kit at this time of year. The difference between you and your baby on a walk is that you’re heating your body through exercise, while they’re stationary objects that can do nothing to warm themselves against the cold. Wrap them up so they’re a little bit too hot before you leave the house, and strip them off again as soon as you get indoors, but don’t take any chances when you’re outside.
Buy convenient kit
By this I mean clothes that don’t have too many buttons or zips or side openings. You want the warm, chunky top layer to be easy to put on and take off, otherwise it’ll take you ages to leave the house. Full body suits are great for this, and usually just have one big opening that swallows your baby whole and is easy to zip up.
Look for built-in mitts
If your kid is anything like Sonny, keeping socks on their feet is one of life’s great battles. Imagine what it would be like with gloves? No thanks. Quite a lot of Sonny’s winter gear has built-in mitts on the cuffs that fold over his fingers to keep his little hands warm and toasty.
Stick to short routes
The weather is unpredictable in the UK at the best of times, but summer showers are far less threatening than unexpected winter gales and hailstorms, so make sure you never stray too far from safety with your baby. Warm gear and rain covers for prams and carriers will only do so much if you’re a long way from your house or car, so pick your winter routes wisely.
Keep things interesting
There’s a lot going on in summer. From kids screaming and leaves rustling to birds twittering and planes humming lazily across the sky, but winter is dull. It looks bleak, dark and boring and (fireworks night aside) sound pretty boring too, so make sure your baby has plenty to entertain themselves. Talk to them, give them toys to play with and choose walks that pass through different types of areas. Trees, cars, people and dogs are still a major source of fascination to Sonny.
Keep checking your baby
My biggest fear when I’m carrying Sonny in his front-facing carrier or rucksack carrier is that I can’t always see his face. When he’s in his pram we have almost constant eye contact, so I know he’s happy and healthy, but in the carrier his face is hidden. As a result, selfie mode on my phone has become a lifesaver. I spend half my time on any walk snapping pictures of the little dude to make sure he’s still OK. And he always is. What a champ.