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Managing your baby's temperature

Babies are unable to regulate their body temperature in the way adults do. When adults are cold they shiver, and when hot, they sweat. It is important to keep your baby neither too hot nor too cold. The following suggestions are given to help you keep your baby's temperature within the normal range (36.6oC to 37.2oC):

  • Try to keep the room temperature between 16-20oC - this temperature is comfortable for most adults wearing short sleeves.
  • Use the right amount of clothing and bedding - during the day your baby should wear the same amount of clothes as you wear plus an extra layer. For example if you are wearing a shirt, baby should wear a babygro or t-shirt or dress plus a cardigan. Babies should wear hats in summer to stop them becoming sunburnt and in winter to stop then getting cold. At night babies should wear a nappy, vest and babygro or gown plus a sheet and couple of blankets. If the room is cooler than 16oC then 3-4 blankets will be necessary; if the room is warmer than 20oC then only 1 blanket or perhaps only a sheet will be needed.
  • If your baby seems restless or fussy and his skin is flushed and feels hot, remove a piece of clothing or blanket. It is normal for babies to have cool hands and feet but if they feel cold and look blue and blotchy, add mittens, socks/bootees, a hat and a cardigan or blanket. Remember to take off baby's outdoor clothes when you get inside.
  • A hot water bottle can be used to warm a bed but it must removed from the bed before baby is placed into it. This will reduce the risk of baby being burnt. The cot, pram (buggy) or car seat should not be next to a radiator, heater or fire, in direct sunshine or near to draughts - for example an open window.. Remember, babies who are swaddled in a heated car can easily become overheated. Never leave your baby in the car without you being there.
  • Before bathing your baby, make sure the room is warm and that doors and windows are shut.

Smaller babies (under 2.5 kilograms/5lbs 8ozs) have additional needs when trying to stay warm. The home is usually cooler than the unit and some babies may need time to get used to the difference. Some suggestions that will help your baby settle and adjust his temperature are:

  • Let your baby adjust to the house temperature before going out and about; this is usually about 36 hours
  • Avoid bathing your baby for 24 hours once you are home
  • You may find it useful to purchase a digital thermometer to check your baby's temperature. To check a temperature place the digital thermometer under the baby's arm between the folds of the chest and arm (in the armpit). The temperature should be taken before baby is undressed fully, normally before bathing and feeding. If the skin temperature is less than 36.6oC, than do not bath your baby.
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