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How to Keep Baby Warm In The Stroller

When our heat-trapping layers fail us, we runners can rely on our stubborn grit to power us through a cold weather workout, but knowing how to keep baby warm in the stroller is a different story.

Unlike adult cold cues that signal someone is at risk of frostbite or hypothermia with identifiable symptoms (shivering, poor coordination, confusion, drained skin color), baby and toddler symptoms aren’t as obvious. 

This doesn’t mean you and your baby have to stay constrained indoors when the temperature drops below freezing. After all, Scandinavian babies sleep outdoors in a spectrum of chilly temperatures. 

In this article, we cover how to keep a baby warm in the stroller so both of you can remedy cabin fever by getting outdoors—even in the winter.

3 Keys to Keep Baby Warm in the Stroller

The basic things to bear in mind before taking baby out into the cold are:

Appropriate Clothing

A rule of thumb repeated across the Internet is to dress your baby in the number of layers you’re wearing plus another layer. 

Time Limit

If the outdoor temperature or wind chill is raging below freezing (31°F or 0° C), limit the time you’re outside with your baby in a stroller to 20-30 minutes.

Weather Awareness

Consider wind chill, wind speed, rain, snow, and other dodgy weather conditions when preparing to go outside with your baby.

Temperature Guidelines for Taking Baby Out in the Stroller

Outdoor outings lasting longer than 30 minutes should be reserved for when the temperature is 30° F or above. This ensures  to ensure your baby—who should be in layers and Vaseline in these temps—stays safe and warm.

Search results will say temperatures of -15° F or colder are unsafe for a baby to be outside., But this ungodly benchmark refers to short-term exposures, like walking with your baby from the car into the grocery store. 

Enduring temps or wind chill below 0 with baby in the stroller for extended periods will lead to frostbite or worse. 

Check with your baby often while out in these low temperatures. Thirty degrees Fahrenheit is below freezing, and babies (especially newborns) should not be exposed to this kind of chill for more than 30 minutes at a time. Duck indoors for short warm-up breaks if you have to.

How to Dress Baby for Cold Weather

Layers, Layers, Layers! Piling one layer of clothing onto another bundles your baby into an envelope of coziness and makes it easy to remove the top layers if the baby starts getting too warm.

Here’s a rundown of what I dress my daughter in when we go running in the jogging stroller during the winter months in Michigan:

baby wearing sleeper with mittens for keeping baby warm in winter

Layer 1: Cotton sleeper with footies and mitten cuffs

Cotton fabrics are breathable and keep your baby from overheating. Built-in footies and mitten cuffs enforce at least one layer over the baby’s little hands, which I appreciate because my daughter rips her mittens off as soon as she can.

baby wearing jacket and pants to keep baby warm in the stroller

Layer 2: Long-sleeved shirt and pants

Make sure these articles are loose enough to fit over the sleeper base layer without being too constricting. Too much tightness could restrict blood flow, leading to the opposite effect of what we’re aiming for to keep baby warm in the stroller. 

a baby wearing a sherpa jacket with the hood pulled up

Layer 3: Sherpa jacket with hood pulled up

Either a Sherpa jumpsuit or jacket serves well for this layer. I find the age of your child determines which one. My daughter tolerated the full-on jumpsuit until she became more mobile. Then we switched to a jacket so she could feel less constrained.

baby wearing a blue snowsuit for keeping baby warm in winter

Layer 4: Snowsuit or winter coat and snow pants (if needed)

When the temperature is significantly below 30° F and the wind chill is worse, my daughter’s Sherpa layers are topped with a winter coat and snow pants. The material doesn’t allow biting wind to penetrate easily. 

We don’t stay out for longer than 20 minutes in these frigid temps.

Other Layers: booties/boots, hats, mittens

Baby wearing warm winter gear for running in stroller

In babies, heat rapidly escapes through their heads and feet. Cake your little bundle with warm booties or boots over their sleeper socks and another layer of mittens, even if it means they’ll tear them off after dramatic protest.

Use hats that cover your baby’s ears and are fleece-lined for extra warmth. I’ve found fleece-lined hats are superior at staying put on their heads without slipping over their eyes. 

A hat with a chin strap (Velcro or tied) keeps it from sliding off of the baby’s head, which can happen when riding in the stroller due to friction.

And to Top It All Off…

Keep a thick blanket in your stroller for that extra burrito-packed warmth. A blanket serves as a backup when your baby refuses to wear mittens, and it acts as a shield against the wind.

It can also be easily removed and stored in the undercarriage if you don’t need it.

What to Wear Based on Temperature

For a detailed breakdown of how cozy you should aim to dress your baby in specific temperatures, check out this blog post by Mckayla of Every Day She Moms

Mckayla does a phenomenal job of providing pearl-clutching moms like myself with clear-cut clothing examples of how to dress your baby in cold weather, ranging from 69° F to below 49° F. 

Cozy Products to Keep Baby Warm in the Stroller

As a Midwest mom who runs with her baby in the winter and has yet to be sponsored by North Face or Under Armour, I’m all about using what I have on hand to keep baby warm in the stroller.

However, there are products I fully endorse as guidelines for what you need based on how cold it gets in your area. 

The following will keep your baby warm in the stroller whether you buy new, secondhand, or score a hand-me-down from another parent.

Footmuff

A footmuff is like a sleeping bag designed to fit in a stroller or a car seat. It allows you to zip your baby into a cocoon of wind-resistant warmth, providing cushioning between their bum and the stroller seat.

Not all footmuffs are suitable for both strollers AND car seats, but they do exist.

If you want one you can safely use in both, make sure you read the compatibility details in the product description.

Baby Snowsuit (a.k.a. bunting)

A full-body snowsuit relieves a lot of guesswork when layering a baby for an outing in the tundra. Often, a snowsuit and a base layer sleeper are all you need to keep the baby warm in the stroller.

Look for machine washable snowsuits with fleece, Sherpa-lined, or down fill in the description.

An outer nylon or polyester shell ensures the material is windproof and repels water. Built-in mitten cuffs prevent anti-mitten kids from freezing their little fingers off.

Baby balaclava

A balaclava is like a hat-neck warmer hybrid. A baby balaclava covers a baby’s head, ears, and neck while keeping their face exposed so that they don’t look like a bank robber.

Stroller cover

An insulated stroller cover transforms your baby’s ride into a little igloo lounge.  Stroller rain covers also work for cold weather, preventing wind and moisture from penetrating the seal while allowing ventilation. 

Covers are available for walking and jogging strollers. Make sure you get one that works with your stroller.

Vaseline or Aquaphor

Spread a protective layer of Vaseline, Aquaphor, or something similar on the parts of your baby that are still exposed to the cold, like the face. 

Slather on baby’s nose, cheeks, lips, and chin to lock in moisture and shield their flawless skin from harsh winter elements

FAQs

How Cold is Too Cold to Take Baby Outside?

Despite the -15° F guideline specific to very short bouts outdoors, I’d say temperatures lower than 20° F should be avoided for outings over 15 minutes. 

If it’s too cold for you, it’s definitely too cold for baby.

This is based on my personal limits when I’m out with my baby in the jogging stroller. Because I don’t have a stroller cover to insulate my little passenger and block wind, I keep any outings very short in these kinds of temps.

How Can I Tell if Baby is Too Cold?

Babies cannot shiver because their little bodies are unable to regulate heat until they are 1½ – 2 years old. Instead of shivering, signs that a baby is too cold include:

  • Cold to the touch on tummy, back, and neck (these areas give the best indication of baby’s core temperature, which should be warm to the touch)
  • Floppy body
  • Irritability/discomfort 
  • Feeding and sleeping poorly

Signs of Frostbite or Hypothermia in Infants

The signs that a baby is too cold listed above are meant to alert you of what to look for before frostbite or hypothermia sets in. 

If you think frostbite or hypothermia has occurred, immediately take the baby to the emergency room.

Signs of Frostbite in Babies

  • Skin redness (early sign!)
  • White or pale grey coloring on nose, ears, fingers, and/or toes
  • Cold, hardened skin
  • Swelling and blisters within 24 hours
  • Skin can turn purple, blue, or black in frostbite’s later stages

Signs of Hypothermia in Babies

  • Unusually low energy level
  • Cold to the touch
  • Limp movements
  • Shallow breathing
  • Refusal to feed

How to Warm a Chilled Baby

If your baby is showing ANY signs of frostbite or hypothermia, take them to the emergency room right away!

If a baby is experiencing mild symptoms of being too cold, do the following:

  • Take baby indoors ASAP
  • Remove extra layers and anything that might be damp (including diapers)
  • Cuddle baby with skin-to-skin contact and layer with blankets
  • Swaddle with a cozy blanket
  • Give them a warm bath after they’ve reclaimed their body heat

Why Can’t Babies Regulate Their Body Heat?

Babies’ bodies don’t have enough fat to generate body heat (which is why they don’t shiver or sweat).

In fact, babies lose heat four times faster than adults.

How Can I Tell if Baby is Overheating?

It’s also important to make sure your baby isn’t overheating in their mountains of layers. Signs that a baby is too hot include:

  • Warm to the touch on the forehead, back, tummy, and neck
  • Damp skin or hair
  • Low energy or unresponsive
  • Discomfort and irritability
  • Red skin

If your baby is experiencing any of these symptoms, remove layers and cool them off immediately.

How Can I Get My Kid to Wear Mittens?

No one knows. Don’t give up.

A baby sleeping after a mother followed the tips for keeping baby warm in stroller

Conclusion: Cold Is for the Bold

We runners may face cold weather with reckless abandon during our solo runs. But keeping our baby warm becomes a priority over speed or miles when we have our tiny running buddy in the stroller. 

With these tips and guidelines, you and your mentality can still get outside with the baby in the stroller while everyone else remains in hibernation. 

Layer up, wear a hat, and let me know when you’ve found a way to keep mittens on your 2-year-old.

Happy trails! 

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