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Warmth and Temperature Regulation

Warmth and Temperature Regulation

Babies can't adjust to temperature changes as well as adults. Babies can lose heat rapidly, nearly 4 times faster than an adult. Premature and low-birthweight babies don't have much body fat. Their bodies may be too young to control their own temperature, even in a warm environment. Even full-term and healthy newborns may not be able to keep their body warm if the environment is too cold.

When your baby gets too cold, he or she uses energy and oxygen to generate warmth. If his or her skin temperatures drops just one degree from the ideal 97.7° F (36.5°C), your baby's oxygen use can increase by 10 percent. By keeping your baby at the perfect temperature, neither too hot nor too cold, he or she can hold onto that energy and build up reserves. This is especially important if your baby is sick or premature.

Ways to keep babies warm

Ways to keep your babies warm are:

  • Drying and warming your baby right after delivery. Wet skin can cause your baby to lose heat quickly by evaporation. He or she can quickly lose 2° to 3°F. You can warm and dry your baby right away using warm blankets and skin-to-skin contact. You can also use another source of warmth such as a heat lamp or over-bed warmer.

  • Open bed with radiant warmer. An open bed with radiant warmer is open to the room air and has a radiant warmer above. A temperature probe on the baby connects to the warmer. This tells the warmer what your baby's temperature is so it can adjust automatically. When the baby is cool, the heat increases. Open beds are often used in the delivery room for rapid warming. They are also used right away in the NICU and for sick babies who need constant attention and care. Babies on radiant warmer beds are usually dressed only in a diaper.

  • Incubator/isolette. Incubators are walled plastic boxes with a heating system to circulate warmth. Babies are often dressed in a T-shirt and diaper.

Once your baby is stable and can maintain his or her own body temperature without added heat, he or she is placed in an open crib or bassinet. Your baby will likely be dressed in a gown or T-shirt, a diaper, and a hat. A baby can lose large amounts of heat through his or her head. Often, a blanket is wrapped snugly around the baby. This is called swaddling.

To lower the risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents and caregivers avoid overbundling, overdressing, or covering an infant's face or head to prevent him or her from getting overheated.

Reviewed Date: 09-28-2014

Calor y la Regulación de la Temperatura
Dr. Rachel Armentrout
Dr. W. Thomas Bass
Dr. Deborah Devendorf
Dr. Susannah Dillender
Dr. C W Gowen
Dr. Glen Green
Dr. M Gary Karlowicz
Dr. Edward Karotkin
Dr. Jamil Khan
Dr. Michael Kochan
Diseases & Conditions
Anatomy of the Newborn Skull
Assessments for Newborn Babies
Baby's Care After Birth
Breast Milk Collection and Storage
Breastfeeding and Delayed Milk Production
Breastfeeding at Work
Breastfeeding Difficulties - Baby
Breastfeeding Difficulties - Mother
Breastfeeding Your Baby
Breastfeeding Your Premature Baby
Breastfeeding: Getting Started
Breathing Problems
Care of the Baby in the Delivery Room
Caring for Babies in the NICU
Chromosomal Abnormalities
Common Conditions and Complications
Common Procedures
Congenital Heart Disease Index
Digestive Disorders in Children
Fever in A Newborn
Getting Ready at Home
Getting to Know Your New Baby
Hearing Loss in Babies
Hearing Screening Tests for Newborns
Heart Disorders
High-Risk Newborn Blood Disorders
Infant Feeding Guide
Infant of Diabetic Mother
Infant Play
Infant Sleep
Infection in Babies
Inguinal Hernia in Children
Latching On or Sucking
Male Conditions
Neurological Disorders in the Newborn
Newborn Appearance
Newborn Care
Newborn Complications
Newborn Crying
Newborn Health Assessment
Newborn Measurements
Newborn Multiples
Newborn Screening Tests
Newborn Senses
Newborn Warning Signs
Newborn-Sleep Patterns
Normal Newborn Behaviors and Activities
Online Resources - Normal Newborn
Physical Exam of the Newborn
Preparing for Your New Baby
Preparing the Family
Skin Color Changes
Substance Exposure
Taking Your Baby Home
The Growing Child: Newborn
The Respiratory System in Babies
Transient Tachypnea of the Newborn
Umbilical Cord Care
Vision and Hearing
Vision Overview
When to Call Your Physician

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.