Winter care tips for newborn babies

Shahnaz Husain
Winter is the cold and dry season and the skin loses moisture to the atmosphere. Therefore, it is necessary to know how to protect babies, especially the newly born, from the winter cold.
According to a pediatrician, the baby should be dressed in layers in winter. Keep the head, hands and feet warm. Avoid synthetic material. Use cotton, flannel and woolen. At the same time, the clothes and coverings should be adjusted if it is warm inside the room, or if a heater is on. If the baby feels too warm, it can be uncomfortable. If a heater is on in the room, keep half a bucket of water in the room for moisture. Avoid heavy blankets or quilts for the baby. It is better to have two light coverings than a very heavy one.
A baby’s skin is very tender and has to get used to winter cold. It can become dry easily. Some common complaints that babies suffer from are chapping, tender noses and rubbed elbows. The skin can get easily irritated, with redness and even burning. Wetness in the diaper area also causes skin irritation and sensitivity. A scaly condition of the scalp, known as “cradle cap” is also common among babies.
Baby massage is probably the most important part of baby care. Apart from benefits to the body, massage plays an important role in healthy emotional development. Studies show that massage gives the baby a sense of security and mental well-being. The power of touch is a nurturing power and our need for it is as great. Touch is the first sense that develops. While inside the womb, the baby senses touch all the time. Studies have also shown that babies who are massaged regularly are more active and have fewer health problems. You may use a baby oil of a reputed company, or use pure olive oil to massage the baby. Oils with heavy perfumes should not be used.
Remove rings and other such items before massaging and bathing the baby, so that no injury is caused. It is also better to keep your nails short. If it is winter, make sure that the room is warm. Apply oils in adequate quantity, so that friction does not harm the baby’s skin. Simple stroking movements should be used and ensure that the baby’s arms and legs are not pulled too firmly. All movements should be smooth and rhythmic. Sudden, jerky movements can frighten the baby. The head and face should not be massaged. Take care around the region of the umbilical cord, especially during the first few weeks. The baby should not be massaged if there is any fever or disease. Seek your doctor’s advice first.
In the initial months, the baby hardly has any physical activity. So, massage helps blood circulation, muscle tone and growth. The practice of leaving the baby in the sun, after massage, for about ten minutes, helps in the formation of Vitamin D. But, the baby should not be left in the sun too long, as it can cause sunburn. Also, the head and face should be away from direct sunlight. In winter, the baby should be well clothed for winter and the sun.
Bathing the baby is necessary for hygiene, although you need not bathe the baby daily in winter. The water for the baby’s bath should be warm and not too hot. Check the heat of the water with your elbow, before placing the baby in the tub. Avoid keeping the baby too long in the water – about 8 to 10 minutes should be enough. Babies also develop a scaly condition on the scalp. The scales should not be pulled out. They should be softened by applying baby oil with cotton wool. Then wash the hair and scalp, using a “no tears” baby shampoo, which does not sting the eyes. Care should be taken while washing the baby’s scalp, by pouring water from front to back, so that the water does not fall over the face. After bathing, use a baby lotion or cream. Use less powder in the diaper region, as it can get in the crevices of the skin, or can make the skin dry.
Caring for your baby, giving the daily massage and bath can be a wonderful way of communicating with your baby, which eliminates the need for words.