Through freezing winter, keeping baby’s temp just right

Stacey Greene takes her baby out for a stroll on a freezing day in Ditmas Park.
Stacey Greene takes her baby out for a stroll on a cold day in Ditmas Park.


There’s one group of New Yorkers who haven’t been complaining much about the extremely cold temperatures we now know as the polar vortex: the under-one set.

Sure, they can’t talk.  But parents stroller-ing down Church Avenue in Brooklyn Wednesday said that their babies were plenty warm. Maybe too warm.

“It’s like socks and legwarmers and pants and then a sleepsack,” Stacey Greene of Ditmas Park said of her nine-month-old Greta’s apparel. “Then, having got her really hot when she’s inside, she starts crying, and we get outside really fast. The apartment’s hot, that’s part of the problem,” she said.

Samir Chopra, a philosophy professor at Brooklyn College with a one-year-old, was getting lost in the layers. “All these layers make it harder to get her out of the house, harder to put her to bed. It’s far more frustrating and galling than in the summertime, when a single onesie comes off,” he said.

Chopra said he didn’t want to overdress his daughter, but also that he was concerned about her in the cold. “Of course you sort of worry about her, you worry about things like frostbite, and sometimes some parents might be overdressing their child cause they’re so concerned about all these warnings about the cold. I think the day care lady put two pants on her, and I think that’s too much,” he said.

Overheating is a serious concern, especially during sleep, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. It is a risk factor for SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

“SIDS does occur more commonly in winter than in the summer months,” said Dr. Heidi Jones, an assistant professor at the CUNY School of Public Health.  “Overheating during the night and in the car are of particular concern,” she said.

When babies are very warm, they may sleep too deeply, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Babies too deeply asleep cannot call attention to themselves or wake themselves up, which, according to NICHAD, can play a role in SIDS.

According to American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations, infants should wear “no more than 1 layer more than an adult would wear to be comfortable in that environment.” The Academy warns against overbundling, and says parents should check for signs of overheating, such as sweating or the infant’s chest feeling hot to the touch.

Outside of SIDS, overheating tends to be a reversible problem. Brenda Joseph, a nurse manager in the pediatrics department at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, said that she had seen a few overheated babies come in this winter, but that the problem was “not rampant.”

“One in a while, you do have a baby that’s overdressed come in with a fever, but usually once they come in you cool them off with a tepid sponge,” she said.

Joseph said that more than overdressing, overheated apartments caused problems for patients. “Some apartments are truly very hot,” she said.

Regardless of apartment temperature, parents of babies will continue to un-button, re-zip, and layer, layer, layer, all to make it down to Church Avenue. “I think we both go a little stir-crazy and insane spending time inside,” said Stacey Greene, who has been home from work with Greta for ten months.

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