Winter is the most vulnerable time of the year for humans. The cold weather forces us to stay indoors, reducing our exposure to the sun, causing a reduction in vitamin D. Colder temperatures also suppress our immune system. Children, particularly babies, are more vulnerable during this time of the year as they do not have fully formed immune systems. Thus, care should be taken to shield them from the cold.
There is no better source of warmth for an infant than the mother’s body. A newborn is unable to maintain its body temperature. Physical contact between a mother and her baby is thus vital for the latter. The heat from the mother’s body protects the baby from the cold and helps maintain their vital body functions, as noted in this study.
Clothing in multiple layers prevents heat from the body escaping and thereby maintains a healthy temperature. Socks and caps are essential, especially after the sun goes down. Too many layers of clothing might make the child uncomfortable, though. They should be able to move their limbs freely.
Cold temperatures can hurt an infant’s health and increase susceptibility to viral infections of the respiratory tract. Use of a room heater is therefore advised. Parents should, however, ensure that the heater is not in a child’s reach as that may lead to accidents.
Massage with herbal oil not only helps infants develop their nerves, muscles and bones, but it also keeps them warm and aids in improved blood flow. The cold weather causes the skin to dry out and become rough. The oil helps soften the skin while the vitamins and minerals in the oil enrich it. Herbal moisturisers and creams, for infants, can be used to reduce winter dryness. Massages also help infants sleep better.
To strengthen the immune system in winter, infants need breast milk from their mothers. Antibodies from viruses and bacteria developed in mothers’ bodies pass to the infants as they breastfeed, helping them be immune to those pathogens. Mothers should breastfeed their children for at least the first six months before they start consuming solids.