Expecting a winter baby? Congrats! You may find yourself thinking that, since the weather outside is frightful, cuddling on the sofa with a newborn will be quite delightful...and that’s true! The only hitch: You’ll have to get off the cozy couch eventually and deal with all the seasonal obstacles that winter puts in a new and expecting parent’s path, like potentially icy roads to the hospital, too-cold (then too-hot) sleeping babies, nursing in chilly temps, and more. Good thing the best advice for preparing for your baby’s winter arrival is straight ahead…

Prepare Your Health for a Winter Baby

Did you know that during pregnancy it’s harder for your immune system to fend off infections—and you’re more susceptible to hospitalization if you do get sick? Yikes! That means it’s extra important to stay up to date on your vaccinations. The following shots are designed to help protect you and your baby:

  • Flu Shot: Receiving the flu shot in pregnancy reduces your risk of being hospitalized with influenza by about 40%, which is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that getting vaccinated is the most important step to protect you and your baby against the flu. (September and October are the ideal months to get vaccinated.) Learn Dr. Harvey Karp’s take on getting the flu shot during pregnancy.

  • Covid Vaccination or Booster: If you come down with COVID while expecting, you’re at increased risk of pregnancy complications that can negatively impact your growing baby. That’s one of the reasons the CDC recommends pregnant folks stay on top of their COVID vaccines.

  • RSV Shot: If you’re between week 32 and 36 pregnant between September and January, it’s recommended that you get the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) shot to help protect your babies against RSV. (Dr. Karp explains the dangers of RSV.)

Learn more about how to stay healthy and active during your winter pregnancy.

Prepare for Your Winter Birth

No matter the season, labor and delivery remains the same. What doesn’t, is how you prepare yourself, your car, and your soon-to-be baby for Baby’s big winter debut. To get winter-ready for your baby before you high-tail it to the hospital, tackle the following:

  • Pack for yourself: Not only is it cold outside, but hospitals are cold, too. Sure, chilly hospital temps help reduce infection risk, but shivering through your hospital stay is nothing short of miserable. To help, pack a cozy blanket or robe, a snuggly hoodie, and warm slipper socks with grips on the bottom. Add some winter skincare essentials for dry winter air, too, like a good lip balm and hand moisturizer. No matter the weather, bring loose-fitting clothes and drawstring or elastic waist pants for your return trip home, too.

  • Pack for your baby: According to experts, babies are often overdressed for their trip home from the hospital. To avoid that pitfall, pack thin, snug layers for your baby, like a long-sleeved cotton bodysuit and cotton footie pajamas, plus a warm hat. Include a couple of lightweight blankets to shield your baby’s delicate skin from the elements—and to expertly tuck over their rear-facing car seat straps. Go ahead and pack an infant coat or bunting for the walk to and from the car, but take it off your bub before strapping them in their car seat for safety reasons. (More on that, below.)

  • Pack the car: The last thing you want on your labor day is to be unprepared for unexpected snowy or icy conditions. Make sure you’ve got an ice scraper in the car, plus an emergency bag stuffed with extra blankets, dry clothing, hats, gloves, non-perishable snacks, and a portable phone charger in case of an on-road emergency. Of course, have a full tank of gas and a properly-installed rear facing infant car seat.

  • Pack the freezer: Cozy, comforting make-ahead freezer meals, like casseroles, chilis, and soups, are ideal for nesting at home in the wintertime with your brand new bundle. Remember: When you’ve just had a baby, the last thing you want to do is cook. (Discover 30 nutritious freezer meals, perfect for postpartum.)

  • Pack the garage: Don’t let an icy walkway or snowed-in driveway hinder your trip to the hospital. Instead, unearth the snow shovel, rock salt, and sand well before go-time…just in case. But do not attempt to remove any snow yourself! Instead, consider securing a neighbor or a friend to be on call for any emergency snow and ice removal.

Prepare for Driving Your Winter Baby Home

Whether your car ride home from the hospital is 3 minutes or over an hour, the drive-safe rules remain the same:

  • Warm up the car! While you and Baby hold tight in the hospital, enlist another to warm up the car before you two get in.

  • Shield your baby from the cold. The AAP advises parents to use a lightweight blanket to protect your baby’s new-to-the-elements skin from the cold air. Don’t forget the hat, too!

  • Remove your baby’s coat. Babies should not wear bulky coats or bunting while strapped into the car seat. In the event of a car crash, the puffy padding flattens from the force, leaving extra space under the safety harness, which puts babies at risk of sliding through the straps.

  • Add a blanket. Tuck a couple thin blankets over the top of the buckled harness straps—and make sure your baby’s face is completely uncovered to avoid suffocation.

  • Do the pinch test. If you can pinch the car seat straps, then you need to tighten them so that they fit snugly against your baby’s chest. (Learn more about car seat safety.)

How to Dress Your Newborn in Winter

While getting outside and enjoying the sunshine and fresh air with your newborn is important, it’s not worth the risk if it’s slippery or below freezing! Because your bub is extra-vulnerable to cold temperatures, they need to be bundled appropriately, so follow this advice:

  • Embrace layers. Newborns need several layers of breathable clothing to keep them Consider a long-sleeve cotton bodysuit, soft footed pants, and a sweatshirt or sweater. Keep in mind that it’s best to dress your infant in one more layer than you’re wearing.

  • Bundle up! If you’ve got a winter coat on, so should your newborn. Keep their ears, hands, and feet warm with the proper accessories, too.

  • Know when to skip the sweater. If you are wearing your baby out and about, it’s a good idea to remove the sweater that’s under your little one’s coat. That’s because your own body heat helps keep them warm enough. (PS: Always make sure your baby’s face isn’t pressed against your chest or their own. Instead, their neck should be straight and their chin up.)

How to Dress Your Newborn for Sleep in Winter

While it’s tempting to pile on the layers and crank the heat to keep your newborn toasty for sleep, don’t. Studies show that high room temperatures, thick clothing, and too many layers increases a baby’s risk of SIDS, which is why infants are at higher risk of sleep death during the winter. To help your baby remain safe, comfortable, and snoozing, pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp recommends keeping the room your baby is snoozing in between 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit, and dressing your baby like this:

  • Skip the hat. A hat is not meant for sleep. Not only does it increase a baby’s chance of overheating, it could slip over your little one’s face and cause breathing difficulties.

  • Use a breathable swaddle. In cooler weather, a long-sleeve cotton bodysuit or cotton footie pajamas and a cotton swaddle is perfect. But for extra chilly sleeps, use a lightly insulated swaddle with a TOG between 2.0 and 3.5, like Happiest Baby’s breathable cotton Comforter Sleepea (or SNOO Comforter Sack).

  • Avoid synthetics. Fleece, and other synthetic fabrics, aren’t breathable and can result in sweaty sleep, or worse, risky overheating.

  • Never use loose blankets! They’re an overheating risk and a suffocation risk, too. The only safe crib is one that’s free of toys, blankets, and all objects except a pacifier. (Learn more about items to keep out of your baby’s sleep space.)

Still unsure if your newborn is warm enough? Touch their ears and neck. If their ears are red and hot—and their neck is sweaty—your baby is too warm. Dress them more lightly or cool the room. If their ears are cold, you’ll want to dress your little one a bit warmer.

How to Breastfeed Comfortably in Winter

Some good news about winter babies and breastfeeding: Research has shown the baby boys born in the winter are nearly 14% more likely to be breastfed than those born in the spring. (Nursing daughters don’t seem to be influenced by the season, however.) To help ensure you breastfeed as long as intended, it’s important to follow these winter-friendly nursing tricks:

  • Dress accordingly. Always have a nursing tank under your button-down sweater, zip-up hoodie, cross-front nursing sweater and sweatshirts, and cozy tops that feature slits at the bodice for discreet feeding to minimize chilly skin exposure.

  • Get a double-duty scarf. Invest in a scarf that keeps your neck toasty that also doubles as a nursing cover. That’s a winter win, win!

  • Cool your breasts. Some nursing parents report a higher incidence of plugged milk ducts during the winter. Frequent feedings, breast massage, and wearing loose clothing helps. So does applying cool compresses on your breast before nursing. (The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine no longer recommends warm compresses.)

  • Prep for nursing success. Just because breastfeeding is natural doesn’t mean it’s easy! Learn how to prepare for breastfeeding, no matter the season.

Are you under the weather and nursing? Learn which cold medicines are safe for breastfeeding.

How to Keep Your Winter Baby Healthy

Winter is the season for sickies. Plus, your newborn doesn't have a fully developed immune system yet, which makes them particularly vulnerable to infections. But that doesn’t mean your baby is destined to sneeze their way through their first few months! Here’s how to help keep your newborn healthy this winter:

  • Set boundaries with visitors. If would-be well-wishers are sick—or have recently recovered—ask them to reschedule their visit. For all other visitors, insist they wash their hands before holding your bub. The CDC also stresses that anyone who’s around newborns should be up to date on all their routine vaccines, including the Tdap or DTaP. And keep young visitors to a minimum, since they carry lots of germs.

  • Wash your hands—a lot. Regular soap does the trick. No need for antibacterial soap that contains harsh chemicals. Just remember to give your hands and fingers a good scrub with a decent amount of friction to really knock the bugs off your skin. (Learn how to teach kids to wash their hands the right way.)

  • Stock up on sniffle-soothers. Make sure the following are at the ready: Nasal aspirator, saline drops, thermometer, cool mist humidifier—plus a white noise machine and a cozy swaddle. White noise helps distract little ones from minor disturbances, like a stuffy nose—and activates a newborn’s calming reflex, which acts as their “off switch” for crying and “on switch” for sleep. Swaddling also activates the calming reflex—plus it makes snot sucking easier, notes Dr. Karp.(Learn more about the power of white noise and swaddling.)


More on Winter Newborn Care:



  • MedlinePlus: Pregnancy and the flu
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Flu Vaccine Safety and Pregnancy
  • CDC: COVID-19 Vaccines While Pregnant or Breastfeeding
  • CDC: Update on RSV and New Vaccine Recommendation
  • Medical School Expert: 7 Reasons Why Hospitals Are Kept Cold (Doctor Explains)
  • The Nemours Foundation, KidsHealth: Bringing Your Baby Home
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): Your Newborn’s First Week: How to Prepare & What to Expect
  • UTSouthwestern Medical Center: Baby it’s cold outside! Tips to manage pregnancy during winter
  • AAP: Winter Car Seat Safety Tips: Keeping Kids Safe & Warm
  • AAP: Tips for Dressing Your Baby
  • National Institutes of Health: NIH alerts caregivers to increase in SIDS risk during cold weather
  • Seasonal differences in breastfeeding in the United States: a secondary analysis of longitudinal survey data. International Breastfeeding Journal. July 2022
  • Virginia Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics: Breastfeeding in Winter
  • Minnesota Department of Health: Mastitis: Updated Guidance—Topic of the Month
  • CDC: Vaccines for Family and Caregivers

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.