Babywearing in Winter

Peekaru vest baby carrier

In winter, you can protect your baby from the sharp bite of the frosty air by babywearing. Keeping your baby close to your chest allows you to share body heat. Just remember to keep the rest of your baby covered.


Use a Wrap Carrier

Baby wrap carrer from Blue Celery

For younger babies, this is the ideal season to use a wrap baby carrier. Baby wrap carriers don’t leave as much room for air flow, which is a good thing in the wintertime.


Cover Those Baby Legs

Baby Spats for warm ankles

If you use a baby carrier that leaves legs free, be sure to cover your child’s legs to keep them warm. Pants can ride up and leave bare skin. Baby spats and baby legs will protect little legs.


Wear a Baby Carrier Cover

Peekaru babywearing vest

Rather than covering each spot the wind and snow try to sneak in, you can wear a cover over you both. Peekaru’s fabulous vest covers every little hollow between you to keep the cold out. This vest fits over you and your baby together. If you only want to cover the baby and the carrier, Catbird Baby makes a baby carrier cover that works with most styles of baby carriers.

Keeping Newborns Warm in Winter

Mother with newborn baby

Newborn babies need a little help maintain their body temperatures in any season. Winter can mean cold winds and warm houses that leave it difficult for a baby to adjust. Be aware of your baby’s needs to help maintain a consistent body temperature.

Normal body temperature for a newborn baby is 97.5-99.ºF (36.5-37.ºC), about the same as your normal body temperature. Babies, though do not yet have the ability adults do to regulate their body temperature. They don’t have the insulation through layers of fat, and their large body surface area in relation to low body weight means more heat loss. You don’t need to pull out the thermometer every hour, though. Just feel the back of your baby’s neck for a quick temperature check.

We give babies a little extra help through clothing and coverings, adjusting room temperature, and keeping them close to us.


Around the House

All newborn babies need some help maintaining the right body temperature, but, if your baby had low birth weight, was born early, or is sick, take special care to monitor body temperature and keep your baby warm.

You are your baby’s best warmer. You can warm your baby through skin-to-skin contact, also called kangaroo care. Put your naked or diapered baby against your bare chest, then cover you both with a blanket. This is perfect for breastfeed. Even without kangaroo care, breastfeeding gives your baby warm milk and warm skin. Babywearing, whether just around the house or when you go out, also keeps you and your baby close.

Clothing. Choose clothing that allows the baby’s skin to breathe, using one more layer than you need. If you are in a T-shirt, add a light jacket or a footed suit in addition to a T-shirt. If you are wearing a sweater, you baby will need at least a sweater, too. Do not, however, layer your baby in too much clothing, causing overheating. If you are wearing your baby, count the wrap or sling as a layer. Don’t forget cold legs when pants ride up in the baby carrier. Baby legs or handknit socks will help.

Hat. Especially during the winter, your newborn will probably need to wear a hat, since babies lose heat through the head. Have lightweight cotton hats for indoors and a warmer, woolen hat for trips out.


Bath Time

Make sure the air and water temperature are comfortably warm without being hot. After the bath, dry the baby immediately. If the room temperature in your house is cool in the winter, you might want to opt for warm sponge baths for your baby. The most important step in keeping a newborn warm during bath time is drying off quickly to avoid heat lose through evaporation.


Nighttime

Your baby doesn’t need a blanket, not in the traditional sense of a large rectangular covering. Babies obviously can’t adjust their covers, so a blanket not only doesn’t stay put but could become a hazard. Your baby is better off wearing the blanket in the form of a worn sleeping bag for newborns or a footed sleeper suit as babies get older. Wool is perfect, since it breathes naturally and helps sleepers regulate their body temperature.

If your baby takes well to swaddling, this will also help maintain body temperature. Not all babies like being wrapped up so snuggly, but do try swaddling.


Going Out

Keeping your baby just the right temperature when it’s biting cold outside is tricky. Have a great insulted suit with legs, if you are going in the car. Although you baby will stay warmer with legs together and those newborn legs naturally want to curl up, you need legs separated for a car seat. If you are on foot and wearing your baby, a vest that covers you, your baby, and the baby carrier, like our Peekaru fleece vest, lets you keep your baby warm with your own body heat.

Be careful not to overheat your baby outside, though. Avoid direct sunlight, especially in the car, and don’t leave an insulated suit on for long drives in the car. Choose light layers of clothing that are easy to remove one by one as you move through your day and the temperature changes.


You
are the perfect temperature to keep your baby warm but not too warm. Keep your newborn baby close this winter.


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Boost Immunity with Foods

Elderberry juice boosts immunity

You may have heard that this is a particularly tough flu season. Simple actions like choosing healthy foods can boost the immunity of yourself and your family to give all of you the best chance of fighting off flu and colds.


Your Immune System

Your immune system defends your body against disease by ridding your body of foreign invaders. Your immune system is not a constant, though. Your actions can boost or inhibit your immunity. If your body is already struggling because you are tired, for example, you will have more difficulty fighting off a cold.

The simplest way to boost your immunity this winter is to understand which foods provide your body with the nutrients it needs to function well.


Basic Immunity-building Pantry

Foods help your immune system through the vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients that help the system function. The most important immunity building vitamins are: Beta carotene (increases number of cells fighting infection), Vitamin C (increases white blood cells and antibodies), and Vitamin E (increases B-cells that destroy bacteria). Immunity building minerals are zinc (helps white blood cells reproduce quickly) and selenium (increases fighting cells). Don’t run out and buy a supplement pill, though. You can get all of these vitamins and minerals in food.

Stock your pantry with colorful fruits and vegetables. Carrots and sweet potatoes have beta carotene. Citrus has vitamin C. Blueberries, cranberries, pomegranate seeds, cherries, and other dark blue, purple, and red fruits are high in antioxidants, which reduce inflammation. Elderberries are particularly good for helping you fight colds and flu as an antiviral an antioxidant. Mushrooms have selenium and many other minerals an vitamins. Garlic is a great flu fighter with antioxidants and other immune-building properties.

Choose a variety of proteins. Beans, nuts, fish, and lean meats can all contribute toward your immune-boosting diet. Almonds provide vitamin E. Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Sunflower seeds have selenium, as do many nuts, whole grains, and seeds.

Add herbs and spices to your foods. Medicinal herbs, like echinacea, goldenseal, and astragalus, are all immune boosters that fight viruses or increase the efficiency of white blood cells. You don’t want to add these to your foods, though. Culinary spices, like cayenne, oregano, and ginger, are also bacteria fighters. Use them fresh if you can, but use them in any form. Even black pepper can give you a little immune boost.


Every Day Foods

The range of immunity building foods is broad. It wouldn’t make any sense for me to tell you that only 5 or 10 or 50 of them are best for you because there is enough variety for you to choose your favorites. Still, I am going to suggest a few foods that will help you build immunity every day.

Smoothies. Start your morning with smoothies. Add dark fruits and vegetables, almond milk or yoghurt as a base, a few ice cubes to make it cool and reduce the intensity. That’s it! Just choose a colorful collection every morning.

Soup. With lunch, have a cup of soup every day. Chicken or vegetable broth both make a good base, but make sure you add garlic, perhaps ginger, lots of herbs and spices, and a few colorful vegetables.

Salad. With dinner every night, have leafy greens. Spinach and romaine lettuce are both very nutritious. Choose your dressing carefully. Better yet, make your own from olive oil, vinegar, and herbs. Each of these gives you a little boost. Maybe sometimes you have cooked kale with cider vinegar instead, but make sure you eat leafy greens every day.

Whole Grains. If you are going to eat cereal or bread, make them rich and nutty. The variety of grains, nuts, and seeds will help you over time.

Doesn’t that seem simple? It is. Boosting your immunity really isn’t difficult to understand or to do. These choices are easy to make every day, and the benefits build over time.


Keep in Mind

Avoid processed ingredients like white sugar and bleached wheat flour. Just avoiding those two will help you avoid many processed foods that have been drained of most nutritional value.

Get enough sleep. Yes, that isn’t a food, but rest is important enough to the healthy functioning of your immune system that you can undermine all of the good work you do with nutritious food by not getting enough sleep. Sleep for your health.

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Line Drying Clothes Outside in Winter

Drying clothes outside in the snow

Line drying gives your clothes that summer fresh smell—in the summer. What about in the winter? Do you brave the cold to hang your clothes in the winter sunshine? You can still dry your clothes outside in the winter if you keep in mind the factors involved in drying.

Line drying clothes saves money because it saves on the expense of energy use. Drying cloth diapers and other stained clothes outside, exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light, can reduce or remove stains. In the winter, you can still save energy and reduce stains.

The general opinion, based on answers to my casual questions to frugal and green friends, is that no one dries clothes outside in the winter. Oh, but they do! “They don’t dry,” several people said. Oh, but they do! “There isn’t enough sun,” said a couple. What? Oh, yes, there is! The suns rays don’t hide in the winter. I live where most of the winter we have biting cold, beautifully sunny days—when you can get a sunburn just as easily as you can in the summer. The misconceptions probably come from assumptions about heat, but heat is not the only factor in drying.


Why Do You Dry Clothes Outside?

Do you dry clothes outside to save money and energy, or do you use the sun for its natural bleaching effects? Your best winter options for clothes drying depend on your goals.


Just Dry, Please

If your only intention is to dry the clothes, you just need to create a situation that will evaporate moisture. Whether you can get that outside depends on your weather.

The factors in drying are heat, humidity, and time. With a lot of heat, you don’t need as much time, and humidity is less of an issue. Without heat, you need to increase the other factors. It will certainly take more time, and it helps if the humidity is low. Whichever factors you have in your favor, use them, but the moisture does need somewhere to go.

For soft clothes, you also need to add a fourth factor: agitation. Sheets and towels dried in a summer breeze aren’t just fresh because of the sun. The breeze flexes the fibers and softens them. When you dry clothes without any agitation or breeze, they are more stiff. If you get stiffness even in a breeze, you might have detergent residue in your clothes, in which case you need to rinse warmer, longer, or with more water. If you have no breeze, you can roll your clothes around or toss them in the dryer for a quick tumble to soften them up a bit.

If it’s humid and cold outside, your clothes might dry only very slowly or not at all. That would be an ideal situation to use an indoor drying rack to take advantage of the heat inside your house.

If it’s dry and cold outside, you might get freeze dried clothes. What you think is frozen might actually turn out to be mostly dry. If you get a coating of ice on the side away from the sun, turn the clothes around to encourage the ice to melt and evaporate. If your clothes freeze before they dry completely, you might need to finish the drying inside.

If it’s windy and cold, you might get freeze dried clothes that are frozen into interesting shapes. The wind, though, can help soften your clothes a bit as well as helping with evaporation. A dry breeze on a sunny day, even if it is cold, is idle winter line drying weather.

Keeping in mind heat, humidity, time, and agitation, you can get your clothes dry naturally even through a cold winter.


The Sun As Natural Bleach

If your reason for drying clothes outside is the natural bleaching effects of the sun, you can still dry clothes outside in the winter. Just plan wash day for a clear, sunny day.

The exposure to UV light reduces stains without the need to add extra chemicals. This is particular useful for cloth diapers. Spraying lemon juice on stains can help the sun bleach stains even more, though you will probably want to rewash the diapers to avoid irritating your baby’s skin with lemony diapers.

Obviously, if the sun isn’t shining directly on your clothes line, you won’t get that nice, natural bleaching effect. This goes for summer and winter. If you see the sun, though, you can still bleach your diapers outside in the winter.

If you decide to dry your clothes inside, putting them toward the sun will help if it is warmer (increasing the factor of heat), but keep in mind that many windows have UV filters. You might not get the bleaching effect of the sun even if you dry in indoor sunlight.


Keep in Mind

  • When it’s really cold outside, use gloves to save yourself the pain of frozen fingers.
  • If the temperature is below freezing, your clothes might freeze in the basket as you are putting up the other clothes. Help yourself move quickly by working in batches and putting clothes pins on the wet clothes before you go outside.
  • Extreme cold can damage some materials. If you use reusable PUL cloth diaper covers, do not dry them outside in the winter. Extreme cold can crack PUL and other sensitive materials.
  • If you have trouble with extreme dryness in your house, drying clothes on a line or a rack inside can add welcome humidity.
  • If you decide to dry in a gas or electric dryer, you can still keep in mind the drying factors of heat, humidity, and time. You don’t need heat to dry. Many dryers have a setting for drying without heat; mine is “Air Dry.” Heat means you dry faster, but it isn’t necessary to evaporate moisture.

Don’t be afraid of those frozen jeans and mysteriously shaped, freeze dried sheets. You can still use the wind and the sun to dry your clothes outside in the winter. Good luck.

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