Babies need fresh air and light, and they need to get out. A healthy baby can go outside every day, even in winter, as long as the temperature is not too cold (down to about –12°C) and it’s not too windy. She’ll be stimulated and distracted, and get plenty of oxygen.
Your baby can’t tell you if she’s cold, so it’s very important to keep her extremities—head, hands, and feet, which get cold first—well covered.
The first outings should be relatively short: about 20 to 30 minutes. They can gradually get longer, provided your baby is comfortable. Since infants often experience discomfort when exposed to the wind, be sure to use the carriage or stroller hood for protection. When the temperature drops below freezing, do not stay outside too long as your baby runs the risk of frostbite, especially if she is not moving around.
Babies don’t like hot summer weather and must be kept out of the sun (see Protecting your baby from the sun). If it’s very hot out (25°C or more), dress her in only a short, lightweight garment and diaper. Your baby can sleep in her room with the window open. If the temperature is milder, around 21°C for example, she may enjoy sleeping outside in the carriage with a mosquito net, out of the wind and sun. The carriage needs to be long enough for the baby to stretch out. Babies must always be buckled in and kept under a watchful eye.
Front carriers are fun for babies and practical for parents.
Photo: Pquan Nguyen
Babies like to be snuggled up next to their father or mother, even when taking a walk. Baby carriers (front pouches, backpacks, or slings) are convenient, and your body heat and walking motion may well help rock your little one to sleep. However, certain precautions must be taken to avoid injury:
- Read the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure the baby carrier is right for your size and for your baby’s age and weight.
- Check that seams, straps, and fasteners are secure.
- Adjust the straps to keep her head upright and her shoulders and back straight.
- Make sure that her breathing is not constricted by clothing, a blanket, or the carrier’s fasteners. Also make sure her chin is not resting against her chest and her face is not flat against you.
- Dress your baby properly for winter, but make sure her clothes are not so tight that they cut off circulation.
- Hold your baby when you bend over.
- Take extra care when going up and down stairs.
- Don’t use a baby carrier during activities where you could fall, for example, biking or walking on an icy sidewalk.
- Do not use a baby carrier when cooking, to avoid potential burns.
- Do not lie down or nap with your child while your infant is in the baby carrier.
On your bicycle
Your child should always wear a helmet, whether she is riding in a bike seat or a trailer.
Photo: Cindy Eng
Your baby is ready to ride in a bike seat or trailer once she is
- At least one year old
- Able to sit up on her own while wearing a bike helmet
By this age her neck muscles are strong enough to support her head and the bike helmet in the event of an accident, and her head is big enough so that the helmet will fit her properly.
Make sure your child is seated properly in the bike seat or trailer with the straps adjusted correctly. She should be sitting upright, with her shoulders and head well supported. The bike seat should be equipped with a headrest and leg protectors for maximum safety.
Check the seat’s maximum weight capacity and make sure it is compatible with your bike. If you use a bike trailer, install the safety flag on the back to make it more visible. Be sure to read the recommended safety precautions in the user guide that comes with the bike seat or trailer.
Never leave your child in the seat when you’re not on the bicycle as it could tip over and injure her.
With the extra weight behind you it takes longer for the bike to stop when you brake, so take it easy the first few times out until you get used to the feeling.
In the stroller or carriage
There are many styles of strollers and baby carriages to choose from. Models that convert from carriage to bed to stroller are practical year-round. Those with reclinable seats are an excellent way to get around. Umbrella strollers are handy but light, and can tip over.
Always buckle up the safety harness and keep a close eye on your baby. While it’s convenient to hang a few shopping bags from the stroller or carriage handles, be careful not to overload it, which can cause it to tip over.