Baby temperature — is it something that you should be monitoring?
When it comes to their baby’s health, parents can obsess over a lot of things.
From their baby’s breathing to the sound they make when they cry. It’s part and parcel of being a new parent and sometimes, paying attention to these things can save your baby’s life.
One of the things parents often wonder about is their baby’s temperature. It’s because compared to older kids, babies can’t communicate if they’re feeling hot or too cold.
And compared to us adults, they cannot just wrap themselves up in a blanket if they’re feeling chilly or remove a piece of clothing if they’re sweating from the heat.
So, how can you tell if your baby is too hot or too cold? We asked our resident paediatrician and TAP mum, Dr Gellina Suderio-Maala (or Doc Gel) from the Philippines to educate us on the topic of baby temperature.
According to Doc Gel, knowing the best temperature for your baby depends on his location and other factors like the time of the day and his clothing.
Normal temperature for baby
What is normal baby temperature, anyway?
To tell if the baby’s temperature is normal, it should have a thermometer reading of between 36.5 and 37.5 Celsius, said Doc Gel.
Experts believe that while the tactile way of feeling a baby’s temperature with your skin can give you an indication if he’s feeling hot or cold, the more accurate way of checking his temperature is by using a thermometer.
“The best objective way to know if baby is hot or cold is with the use of the thermometer and the normal temperature is between 36.5 and 37.5,” said Doc Gel.
Why it’s important to know baby temperature
She added that babies have a body surface area and their tendency to release heat is quicker than adults. They lose heat easily and as mentioned, they don’t have the skill to regulate their body temperature yet.
This is why just an increase in normal temperature in babies under three months is already a cause for concern.
According to Doc Gel, if the baby’s temperature drops, their oxygen use increases by 10 per cent, and their metabolism speeds up. They consume too much energy.
The same thing happens if the baby’s temperature is too high. This is why it’s essential for parents to help their babies regulate their temperature.
Baby temperature: How to tell if baby is too hot?
When a child is unwell, one of the signs that parents usually watch out for is fever or an increase in baby temperature.
Sometimes, if their baby feels hot to touch, they might mistake it for fever when in fact, it can be because of overheating.
Not only can overheating make your little one uncomfortable, but it can also increase their risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other concerns, like heat rash, heat exhaustion, or dehydration.
How to tell if your baby is too hot or overheating?
Again, Doc Gel recommends using a thermometer to check his temperature. Another way to do this is by feeling the baby’s nape or the back of her neck or torso to check if she’s warm to the touch or sweating.
According to Healthline, here are some other signs that may tell you if your baby is overheating:
- skin feels hot (with or without a fever)
- cheeks or skin looks flushed or red
- is sweating or has damp hair (although bear in mind that babies can be overheated without sweating)
- acts more fussy or restless than usual
seems overly tired, sluggish, or listless
- feels nauseous or is vomiting
How to avoid overheating in babies
Parents make the mistake of bundling up their infants with layers of clothes for fear that they might feel cold, which is highly unusual because we live in a tropical country where it can be hot even at night.
According to Doc Gel, letting your baby wear loose clothing can help them cool down. She also suggests maintaining the recommended room temperature for babies, which is between 21 to 25 degrees Celsius.
Here are some ways to help baby cool down:
- Keep your baby out of direct sunlight, far from the windows, especially during the peak hours of the day, which are 11am to 5 pm.
- Dress your baby in a few layers of clothes, especially in the middle of the day.
- Never leave your baby in a vehicle unattended. Heat builds quickly inside cars even on mild days and can lead to overheating or other serious complications.
- If the weather is too hot and there’s no air conditioning, you may want to put a cooling patch on the baby’s forehead.
Can I put the electric fan facing the baby when it’s hot?
The electric fan is a common suspect when parents notice a change in baby temperature. But does it really have that much effect?
According to Doc Gel, there’s nothing wrong with putting the fan facing your baby on a hot day to help regulate her temperature. However, she cautions against the possibility of dirt and dust on the electric fan that might cause problems to your child’s health.
Because your baby is still developing her immune system, she can easily get sick from the dust, dirt and other pathogens that she can inhale from the electric fan.
Thus, you need to make sure that your baby’s surroundings is clean. Then, even if you put the electric fan facing your bub to maintain her temperature, she will be fine.
Baby temperature: How to tell if baby is cold?
As earlier mentioned, babies lose heat quicker than adults so we should also be cautious if our infant is feeling cold because aside from overheating, overchilling, or getting too cold can also put the baby at risk for SIDS.
Same with overheating, Doc Gel recommends checking the baby’s temperature with a thermometer and feeling her nape and torso if it is too cold.
How to tell if the baby is cold? Here are some signs to watch out for:
- Their nape, hands and feet feel cold
- Their skin is pale
- They’re fussier than usual
- They sneeze
- They’re lethargic or quieter and not playing than usual
How to prevent baby from getting too cold
Again, to prevent your child from feeling too cold, Doc Gel reminds parents to dress their babies according to the weather or the temperature.
Experts recommend adding one layer of clothing on the baby during bedtime or if you’re using an air conditioner at home.
To keep the baby warm, Doc Gel advises swaddling them. Aside from regulating baby temperature and mimicking the warmth in the mother’s womb, it also helps soothe and relax your child.
Another reason for the baby feeling cold is the sudden change in temperature during bath time. To avoid this, it’s best to keep the baby’s bath time short. Try limiting it to under 10 minutes and make sure you dry the baby as fast as you can after bath time.
As an added precaution, Doc Gel advises keeping a first aid kit for the baby which includes cooling patches and a working thermometer in case of emergencies.
If you have any questions regarding your baby’s temperature, don’t hesitate to consult your child’s paediatrician.
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This article was first published in theAsianparent.