- January 13, 2016
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Do Babies Always Have to Wear Hats?
You’ve seen the adorable newborn photos of countless babies wearing the cutest little hats. But do those hats actually serve a purpose?
In fact, yes! Hat-wearing is a great way to regulate baby’s temperature. Unlike you and me, babies often struggle to stay warm, or to stay cool in a very hot climate. While adults can regulate their temperature by sweating to cool off and shivering to warm up, babies have a harder time. The womb is a very hospitable and warm environment, so most babies usually get chilly more often than overheated as they adjust to being in the outside world.
How To Keep Your Baby Comfortable
Most of the time, your intuition and observance can help you notice when baby is uncomfortable, whether from being too warm or too cool. Heat loss is typically more common in most climates, which happens at key points such as the head and feet.
The sensible response is to keep your infant dressed in clean, dry clothing, and add a light swaddle and/or a hat and socks if you live in a cooler climate. If there is wind, or any type of draft, baby will need extra layers to keep her warm enough.
Take extra care when baby gets wet. For example, after taking baby out of the bath, dry him with a soft towel as soon as possible, before dressing him in warm clothes. It also helps if the towel is hooded, so you can cover their head (a high heat loss point) immediately as you dry them. Change baby’s clothes if they spit up so as to avoid them becoming too cold through evaporative cooling.
Watch your baby indoors so that they don’t become overheated, either. Dress him in layers that can easily be removed and put back on again.
Checking Baby’s Temperature
Many sources suggest that rectal thermometers provide the most accurate temperature reading for children under 3 months of age, but be sure you know how to properly use one. If a rectal thermometer makes you nervous, you can always invest in a high-accuracy sensor thermometer for a result you can trust, every time.
Normal infant temperature ranges from 96.8 to 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. If your baby’s temperature is lower than 96.8 or over 100.4, it’s time to call the doctor. See what the AAP guidelines say about managing fevers in children.
In the end, your baby’s hat may just be a fashion statement, but it’s always good to have one on hand to ensure that baby stays warm and comfortable.
Rachel graduated from Brigham Young University in 2014, and now works from home as a freelance writer. Among other things, Rachel enjoys trying new recipes, exploring the world, and reading good books. She currently lives in Arizona with her husband and young son.