There is a actually a scientific reason why
that old saying and the precaution people took has been mostly lost on later generations. I think it's due in part to the increase in modern conveniences, penicillin, cold medicines, dependable transportation, increased city street improvements and central heating to name a few.
In most demographics, people just don't see going out in the cold as a real threat anymore because they can just run from a heated home, to a heated car to heated building. You barely need a coat for that. The issue I have as a mother is when I see a child barely clothed during mom's errands. It seems that if a mother is wearing socks, shoes and a coat, the baby needs them, too, only more so.
Perhaps the thought is that it's only for a minute, so some think it's one less hassle in the day. But I think by enduring the putting on and taking off the necessary clothing for outings, babies learn patience for the necessary processes in everyday life.
There are also health reasons for bundling up. The human body's immune system is constantly working to keep us healthy. Our white blood cells are constantly protecting our bodies against both infectious disease and foreign invaders.
But when the body temperature is lowered by exposure to cold weather, the immune system shifts it's attention to thermal energy and launches a series of alerts to get your attention.
First your brain sends you messages that you are cold. Ever notice how you will actually feel compelled to SAY how cold you are? That is because our bodies become so consumed with the quest to seek warmth and shelter that we can't help speaking the need and blurt out "I'm cold!!"
Next, we begin to shiver, prompting our brain to send progressively more urgent prompts to seek shelter and warmth. We assume a lot in our culture today. We assume the car will start, we'll be home on time, and everything will go according to our plan. But it's wiser, in my opinion, to hope for the best but still plan for the worst.
Because cold can lead to a lot of things, including death. Which is why the worry of someone catching their "death of cold" was indeed an accurate statement. The end of the line for getting too cold really is death.
So whenever a mom knows she'll be spending time outside in the cold, it's so wise to bundle up her children. Layers of clothing are best as they trap air between them and that insulates the body. And they're easy to peel some layers off or on as needed.
My advice to all new mamas out there:
A wise mother is always thinking with two brains - one for herself and one for her child. She must constantly gauge the needs of the child until their child can do it for themselves.
Obviously babies can't do things for themselves so it's our job as the mom to act on their behalf. Being careful that they don't get too cold in one end of the spectrum. The other is making sure they don't get too warm.
If you crank your heat up in a car ride, they could get overheated. And their only way of trying to explain how uncomfortable that is, is by crying.
For errands longer than 5 or ten minutes somewhere, adjust the baby's clothes to ensure a comfortable car ride. It's worth the extra effort to put hats and coats back on when it's time to get out of the car. When mine were little, this small act made for happy car rides.
It just takes some common sense to keep ourselves and our children healthy and happy. And it really does go a long way in keeping immunities running strong. :-)