Written by Jana Angeles
Knowing your baby’s temperature is a key element when it comes to determining how healthy they are. As parents, it is our responsibility to check and help regulate their temperature, especially during the night time when they’re about to sleep. It is essential that we make ourselves aware on what it means to have a normal temperature for our baby, especially when it comes to knowing what to do if it is above or below the average. Temperature awareness is imperative for the prevention of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and checking it regularly really pays off in the end.
Education is key when it comes to temperature awareness. Our role is to make sure we know when our baby becomes overly chilled or warm when taking their temperature. According to the International Journal of Epidemiology and The Journal of Paediatrics, insufficient insulation and overheating can really put your child at risk of SIDS so keeping an eye out on both factors can really go a long way. Sometimes as parents, we really underestimate the sensitivities of our children and keeping an eye on their temperature is the least we can do. Babies are really interesting creatures and when the circumstances arises, they may not even need a product or a blanket to help with temperature regulation.
There are many ways to help your baby reach optimum temperature. These include:
- Frequently monitoring, touching and feeling your baby to make sure that they’re not too hot or too cold.
- Checking in while your baby is in a deep sleep. It doesn’t hurt to monitor their temperature while they’re asleep!
- Making sure your baby is dressed appropriately. Avoid overdressing and underdressing them. As a guide, only put one layer of clothing which will suit the baby’s environment.
- Touching your baby’s chest, tummy or back to make sure that they’re not too hot or too cold. The abdominal temperature makes up the core temperature and is a reliable diagnosis of hypothermia.
- The World Health Organisation has said that a baby’s hands should be pink and warm. This indicates that the baby is in ‘thermal comfort’. If your baby’s feet are cold, it could indicate that they are in cold stress. In the case of Hypothermia, both feet and trunk are cold to touch.
- Keeping your baby comfortably warm. Babies become fussy when they are too hot or too cold so parents and caregivers should keep a close watch.
Chilling vs. Overheating
It’s a good idea to know the difference when your child becomes chilled or when they’re overheating. There are symptoms to look out for when determining the difference between both. If symptoms persist, we recommend you see your local doctor and in case of an emergency, call 000.
Signs of Chilling
It’s the worst when it’s freezing and we’d do anything to rug up and get ourselves a nice warm mug of hot chocolate with tiny marshmallows to keep us nice and toasty. For babies, it’s a little different and we have to be attentive and look for signs when they’re chilling. Some handy things to know:
- When your baby’s body is unable to keep warm, they are quiet and very still.
- They are unable to generate heat meaning that they are unable to show any sign of shivering when cold.
- When cold, babies are unable to cry and they may lose interest when it comes to feeding time.
- How to know when your baby is the danger zone? If their chest, hands and feet are ALL cold under his or her clothes. If this occurs, try to appropriately dress your baby and hold them close to your body so they can keep warm.
- If your baby is unable to keep warm, they go into the next stage of chilling called Neonatal Cold Syndrome. All of their vital body functions begin to run very slowly, making your baby lethargic. Your baby’s hands and feet will become very swollen and feel very cold. If this happens, your baby needs urgent medical attention.
Signs of Overheating
Normally when we feel like the heat get to us, we flick the switch of the air con and eat our favourite flavour of ice cream to our heart’s content. Unfortunately, we can’t say the same for babies when dealing with the temperature’s warmth. Here are some points to consider when looking out for any signs of overheating:
- If your baby has damp hair, a sweaty back and chest, red ears, a rapid pulse and a fever, this means that they’re overly warm.
- If this is the case, you should remove a layer of clothing and move to a much cooler environment for your baby. Fanning them lightly can also work too.
- Make sure your baby is not overdressed as this increases their risk of getting heatstroke. Symptoms include: hot dry skin, flushed or pale skin tone, rapid pulse, vomiting, rapid breathing, sluggishness, non-responsiveness, signs of dehydration. If this is the case, your baby needs immediate medical attention and layers of baby’s clothing should be removed. Give your baby some fluids and sponge them with lukewarm water.
- Make sure you dress your baby appropriately to the temperature.
- As a guideline, medical experts have recommended that your baby be situated in an environment where the temperature is between 16-22 °C.
Overall, temperature awareness is something we shouldn’t take for granted. It is our responsibility to give the love and care our babies deserve to survive the rapid temperature changes, especially considering how much global warming really impacts how warm and cold the weather can be. Whatever the day is, always have your thermometer at hand; you’ll need it for this, trust me.