Newborns can lose heat in many ways, but according to Dallas County Community College District's nursing advanced clinical handbook on thermoregulation and newborn care, a considerable amount of heat can escape through your baby's head. The risk of chill carries consequences for the full-term infant and even more for preemies. Wearing a hat can be one of several effective measures to help your baby maintain a healthful body temperature between 98.1 and 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit until he can maintain thermal stability on his own.
1. Holding in the Heat
Human beings are generally able to maintain a constant body temperature regardless of the environment, but for your newborn, this ability is not fully developed. She cannot sweat and is subject to both chills and overheating. Moving quickly from a warm to cool environment, air-conditioning and contact with cool objects can all cause a sudden chill. Placing a cap on his head can provide insulation to help hold in the heat. Generally a hat, diaper, T-shirt or onesie and a light blanket or two are sufficient to keep your child from under- or over-heating.
2. You've Got Baby!
At birth, your infant moves from the stable warmth of the womb into the shifting atmospheric conditions of the world. From the moment of delivery, take care to provide a warm room and dry him quickly, wrap him in warmed blankets and place a cap on his head. Skin-to-skin contact with you can help keep his body sufficiently warm, too. Take his temperature hourly and do not bathe until he gets at least three consecutive normal body temperatures. Give him a tub bath, not a sponge bath and dry him immediately. The Dallas County Community College District's nursing advanced clinical handbook recommends that your newborn be placed in a warmer if his temperature falls below 98.1 F.
3. Micro Baby Care
Low birth weight, premature infants have an even higher susceptibility to losing body heat and temperature than full-term infants. Wearing a hat can protect her against the "severe physiologic consequences of hypothermia," according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. CEU Fast Inc., an accredited provider of continuing nursing education, warns against bathing preemies for several weeks, unless necessary to remove potentially infectious material at birth.
4. Going Home in Style
Dallas County Community College District warns, "Babies get really cold, really fast." Therefore, the concern for keeping her warm and cozy will follow you home from the hospital. As she leaves the controlled atmosphere of the hospital, she should sport a lightweight, stylish hat to keep her from getting a chill transferring to and from the car and house. Avoid leaving her in a drafty location and dress her appropriately for the weather without overdressing her. Bathe her in lukewarm water and dry her quickly with her head covered to keep the dampness from sapping her body heat. Maintaining her little body at the appropriate temperature with hats and environmental controls will keep her healthy and happy and give you peace of mind about her well-being.
- Dallas County Community College District: Care of the Newborn: Thermoregulation
- American Academy of Pediatrics' Neo Reviews: Core Concepts: Thermoregulation in the Newborn, Part II: Prevention of Aberrant Body Temperature
- Institute for Continuing Education: Thermoregulation
- CEUFast, Inc.: Neonatal Thermoregulation
- Austin Community College District: Normal Newborn
- Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center: Temperature Control in the Neonate
- Regional Perinatal Outreach Program of Southwestern Ontario and the Southwestern Ontario Perinatal Partnership: Perinatal Manual of Southwestern Ontario: Newborn Thermoregulation
- University of Maryland Medical Center: What You Should Bring to the Hospital
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images