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Layering With Love: How to Keep a New Baby Warm

July 7, 2014

hatgirlsummerIt would be so much easier if your newborn could tell you what she needs, right? Well, in many ways, she can. Babies fuss when hungry, when they are teething, when they are tired and even when they are not comfortable with the temperature.

Keeping your child warm does not have to be a guessing game. In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are many strategies you can use to ensure that she is safe and sound and comfortable with the temperatures in your home.

Dressing for Warmth

When deciding how to dress your baby, it’s important for nannies and parents to think about their own comfort with the temperatures. “Think about the weight of clothing that makes you comfortable in the environment you’re in,” says Dr. Sophie Balk, general pediatrician at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in New York. “A good rule of thumb is to dress your baby in the same weight of clothing but add an additional layer of clothing. You want your baby to be comfortable and to avoid overheating him, especially if the temperature is hot (over 75 degrees Fahrenheit).”

Keeping your baby warm does not require an adjustment to the thermostat, says Balk. “There’s no need to keep the temperature in the home super hot – if you’re not comfortable, the baby probably isn’t either,” she says.

If the temperature is cold, your little one will need several layers of clothing to stay warm. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends dressing a baby in an undershirt, diaper, pajamas or a dressing gown and then wrapping her in a receiving blanket. “Premature babies may need an additional layer of clothing because their ability to regulate their temperature isn’t as well developed as a full term baby’s is,” says Balk.

When determining how to dress your baby, Balk says it is important to trust your instincts and use common sense. “If the weather is extremely hot or cold and adults are uncomfortable, chances are that it is not going to be comfortable for your baby,” she says. “Make sure to consult your local news channel or weather station for heat and cold advisories.”

Bedtime Guidelines

Since the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against blankets and loose sheets in your baby’s crib, you may be wondering how to keep your bundle of joy warm while he sleeps.

Begin by warming your baby right before bedtime with skin to skin contact, says Theresa Kledzik, infant developmental nurse specialist. “The surest, safest way to warm a baby is to put the baby skin to skin with a parent,” she says. “It is inefficient to try to warm a cool baby by adding blankets and other layers. This will only insulate baby’s temperature, so there is less loss of heat, but it is not actively warming the baby. To warm the baby, you need to introduce a heat source, such as the parent’s body, which is at the perfect temperature.”

When preparing your little one for peaceful slumber in his crib, make sure that he is dressed in a onesie, diaper, a one-piece sleeper and socks before bed. “Sleep clothing, such as sleepers, sleeper sacks and wearable blankets are safer than blankets,” says Balk. “Use a fitted sheet and don’t use loose bedding, such as sheets and blankets, since these can impair his ability to breathe if they are close to his face.”

Balk also warns parents and nannies that nothing else should be in the crib, such as a pillow, stuffed animal or bumper.

How to Avoid Overheating

Babies, especially young infants, are susceptible to getting overheated for several reasons, says Balk. “They require more fluid per unit of body weight compared to older children and adults,” she says. “Since they can’t seek shade or a cooler environment like older children and adults can, they rely on adults to protect them from dehydration and heat illness.”

Balk recommends light weight cotton clothing that is cool and comfortable for your baby during the heat of the summer. Keeping your child out of the direct sunlight is also necessary since babies can get sunburned easily.

In addition to light clothing, choose stylish accessories to ensure your child’s comfort and safety. “Choose a hat with a wide brim to protect your baby’s cheeks, chin, ears and back of the neck,” says Balk.

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