As the days get shorter, in addition to facing freezing temperatures, parents have the extra challenge of coming up with winter activities for their kids—and themselves—during these long, dark, cold months.

Heading outside is such an amazing activity for everyone from newborns through adults—but what about when it’s absolutely freezing? How cold is too cold for a baby? Can you safely take your sweet little bundle outdoors?

The answer is: Maybe.

Children, especially babies, are more sensitive to temperature changes than adults. “Because they are less able to regulate their body temperature than adults, children can quickly develop a dangerously low body temperature [i.e., become hypothermic]. Newborn infants are prone to hypothermia [defined as a body temperature of below 95º F], because of their large body surface area, small amount of subcutaneous fat, and decreased ability to shiver,” says The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

You’re not overreacting by being nervous about taking your infant outside in freezing temps. The good news? There are ways to do it safely.

How to dress your baby for cold weather

To keep warm in the winter, layers are the key—for both babies and adults. But it’s very important not to overheat your baby by putting on too many layers—since overheating is dangerous for babies, too.

The general rule of thumb is that your baby should be dressed in one more layer than you feel comfortable in. If you are happy with one long-sleeve shirt, your baby should probably have a long-sleeve onesie, plus another shirt or light jacket on top.

If you’re going for a stroller walk, dress baby warmly, then add a blanket or stroller cozy to keep them all snuggled up.

Related: The best winter gear for kids: 9 must-haves from our editor who lives in Alaska

When playing outside, in addition to a winter coat and warm pants or snow pants, don’t forget a hat and mittens. The most vulnerable parts of a little body are the extremities, like their chin, nose, ears, fingers and toes.

Remember, car seat safety is of utmost importance, even as you try to keep baby warm. Babies should not wear a winter coat, very thick clothing or blankets under the straps of their car seats—the straps will not cinch tightly enough around the baby if they do, which is unsafe in a crash.

Is 30 degrees too cold for baby? What outside temperature is too cold for baby

Above freezing: Extreme cold starts to become a factor when the temperature drops below freezing (32º F). You can still go outside, but it should not be for very long.

Well-below freezing: Once temperatures start to drop below 20º F, it’s best to stay inside if you can. Be sure to factor in wind chill when you’re checking the weather—the wind can feel much, much colder, especially on sensitive baby skin.

Indoors: When you’re inside, the ideal temperature for your thermostat to be set at is 68º to 72º. Remember that baby blankets, although super cute for snuggling baby in our arms, are not safe for the crib as they pose a risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). If you’re concerned about baby being cold at night, we recommend sleep sacks.

Symptoms to watch out for

Keep a close eye on your baby (we know you always do) when you’re playing outside. According to the Mayo Clinic, if you see any of these symptoms develop, give your pediatrician a call right away (or just call 911):

Symptoms of hypothermia in infants and children

  • Shivering (note, young babies don’t shiver!)
  • Slurred speech
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Weak pulse
  • Clumsiness
  • Sleepy or very low energy
  • Confusion or memory loss
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Bright red, cold skin (in babies)

Symptoms of frostbite in infants and children

  • Cold skin
  • Prickly, pins-and-needle feeling
  • Numbness
  • Red, white, bluish-white or grayish-yellow skin
  • Hard or waxy skin
  • Clumsiness and stiffness
  • Blistering

A few other safety tips for taking care of babies in the winter

  • Have an emergency kit in your car in case you break down. Edmunds has a great emergency kit list of things like blankets, flashlights, granola bars and bottled water. You’ll also want to make sure your gas tank is near full and the car’s maintenance is up to date to avoid issues.
  • Consider pre-warming your car, but NEVER in a garage—even an open one.
  • Protect everyone’s skin with baby-safe lotion or balms.
  • Consider using a cool-mist humidifier to keep baby’s air moist at night.

Related: 8 must-have products to help mamas & babies survive the winter

A note from Motherly

You can certainly still take baby outside, it’s just safest to stay aware of the temperature. Dress babies in layers, follow safe carseat guidelines, and watch closely for any signs that baby is too cold. Don’t stay out for too long, and if it’s less than 20º F, avoid going outside at all (a quick walk to a preheated car is OK).

Hang in there, mama. You’re not doing it wrong—this season can be hard. Go into hibernation mode, focus on some real self-care and snuggles, and before you know it, the flowers will be in bloom and you’ll be spending every waking second outside.

Wondering how to dress your baby for cold weather? Here's what you need.

7 A.M. Enfant Blanket 212 Evolution Extendable Stroller and Car Seat Footmuff

7 A.M. Enfant


Blanket 212 Evolution Extendable Stroller and Car Seat Footmuff

Not only does 7am’s Blanket 212 Evolution Extendable Footmuff guarantee a cozy baby in even freezing temperatures, it’s also designed with mom in mind. A water-repellant outside makes the muff wind, water, and stain-resistant, while the extendable design means it works for infants through four years old—oh yeah, and it’s machine washable (easy cleaning for the win!).

Pro tip: The clever construction not only allows it to unzip into a blanket, it also keeps the five-point harness easily accessible with a removable anti-slip back panel that eliminates extra fabric between baby’s back and the harness.

Skip Hop Stroll & Go Car Seat Cover

Skip Hop


Stroll & Go Car Seat Cover

Keep the winter winds out and the coziness in with Skip Hop’s budget-friendly Stroll & Go Car Seat Cover. The universal fit accommodates any car seat, and allows you to cart your babe through ice, wind and snow without them ever even knowing it. (Babies really have it made, don’t they?) A snap front allows for instant temperature control while the roll-away front makes it easy to put them in and take them out.

Patagonia Down Sweater Bunting



Hi Loft Down Sweater Bunting

When it comes to infant snowsuits, you really can’t do better than Patagonia. Yes, they’re pricey but if you’re going to be spending a lot of time outside, they’re totally worth it. (They also last forever which means you can use for multiple kids or even find used.) The down fill, which extends into the hood traps heat without adding bulk and making it impossible to wrangle them into the stroller. And that double zipper? Completely clutch when it comes to getting a squirmy baby bundled up.

Carter's Little Planet Bunting

Little Planet by Carter's


Recycled Quilted Puffer One-Piece

Made from 100% recycled material, the simple Recycled Quilted Puffer One-Piece from Little Planet by Carter’s will keep them toasty in chilly temps. And the fold-over mittens mean one less accessory to lose this winter.

Hocosa of Switzerland Wool Onesie

Hocosa of Switzerland


Wool Bodysuit

No fabric is better for warmth without overheating than wool. These simple wool bodysuits make a great first layer for the most blustery of days.

Nui Organics Merino Balaclava

Nui Organics


Merino Balaclava

Keeping a hat on a baby’s head can seem like a fruitless endeavor. Either they’re snatching it off, or it slips off the back of their head as they rub against the carseat. The answer? A balaclava. Made from Merino wool that’s soft and breathable, the baby-sized balaclava’s from Nui Organics are just the thing to layer under their hood or even wear solo. Their little ears stay covered no matter what!

baby puffer suit



Baby Puffer Suit

Made from 100% recycled polyester that is windproof, water-repellent, and machine washable, this suit is also lightweight and allows for lots of outdoor play while keeping your little one toasty and warm.

Stonz baby mittens



Baby Mittens

These mittens are made especially for tiny hands! They slip right on (no thumb hole to worry about), they go over the sleeve (no need to tuck them in!) and they won’t slip off. Keep your baby’s tiny fingers warm and dry with these waterproof, wind-resistant mittens all winter long.

Nido plush wrap



Nido – Plush

The Nido Winter Infant Wrap provides the ultimate warmth and protection from the cold in these long winter months. Its convenient 3-direction baby wrap design features a contoured hood and premium poly insulation plus micro-fleece lining to keep your baby cozy as you go out and about.

Zutano fleece baby booties



Fleece Baby Booties

For an extra layer to keep those tiny toes toasty, try Zutano’s 2-snap fleece-lined booties. They’re a favorite of parents everywhere because they STAY ON. Yep, you heard us right! If you want tiny shoes on your baby’s tiny feet this winter, these are the ones.

North Face winter hat for baby

North Face


Baby Bear Suave Oso Beanie

This fleece winter hat from North Face has a chin strap that will keep it in place while offering maximum cuteness courtesy of the extra “bear ears” detail. This way you can keep your baby’s head warm and be picture-ready all at the same time.

A version of this article was originally published November 12, 2019. It has been updated.