How warm does your baby need to be?
A lot of parents believe in wrapping up their babies in several layers of clothing to keep them warm and cozy. Besides, swaddling also helps to keep them calm and less fussy. But is this always right? The answer is NO.
Full term babies are mature enough to regulate their body temperatures between the range of 36.5 and 37.5 degrees centigrade, irrespective of the temperature outside. Anything above 38 degrees is considered to be a fever and this is usually due to an underlying infection.
However, a baby might spike a fever when wrapped in heavy clothing. Just like adults, they need to be covered in a comfy blanket only when the weather is cold. But during a hot sunny afternoon, a light cloth is all they need. You should control the room temperature according to your instinct because your baby feels almost the same way you feel. If you feel the need to switch on the fan or open the windows, the baby most likely feels the same. Excessive clothing can also result in skin problems or aggravate existing ones.
Furthermore, your baby needs fresh air just like you do. In some parts of the world, babies are traditionally kept indoors for the first couple of weeks or months. This is mostly unnecessary. Fresh air doesn’t harm babies! Go out there and take a walk with your little one, especially in the early hours of the day. Let him breathe in the morning air and bask in the rising sunshine! Avoid extreme weather and cover the baby according to the temperature outside.
Hot baths are also common in some cultures. Apart from the risk of skin burn and scalding, hot baths can increase your baby’s body temperature to a very uncomfortable level. Use tepid water only – neither hot nor cold. Feel the water with the back of your wrist, if it feels hot, then you should make it a bit cooler for your baby.
Feeding is another way of keeping babies warm and comfortable. Breast milk comes in the perfect temperature that matches that of your baby – around 37 degrees. But if you have to reheat stored breast milk or prepare formula (or complementary food for an older baby), you must ensure that you keep it within that tepid range. You can check this with an appropriate thermometer or by using the back of the wrist method I mentioned earlier. Feeding is also a good way of keeping your baby hydrated when he is running a fever because babies can quickly become dehydrated when they’re hot.
In summary, with the exception of premature neonates, babies can feel hot or cold according to the weather conditions, layers of clothing and the temperature of food. Keep their environment warm and cozy, but don’t be afraid to provide some cool air every now and then. Check his temperature if he feels hot or cold and contact your doctor if there is a fever.