It’s not only moms, siblings, and the rest of the family that have to adjust to the arrival of the baby. The infant also does the same thing. One of their biggest challenges is regulating their body temperature.
To be considered not sick, an adult should have a body temperature around 37 degrees Celsius. It can go about 36.5 degrees or 37.5 degrees. If it climbs to at least 38 degrees, then a person is considered to have a fever. Temperatures can differ depending on where they are obtained. Armpit temperatures are lower.
Babies, on the other hand, have about the same ideal body core temperature. The problem is, because of their size and the amount of body fat they contain, they find it harder to regulate.
What Happens When the Temperature Is Low?
Babies have about three times the surface area than adult while their body weight is low. They are therefore more likely to lose a lot of heat at any given time. Furthermore, if they are born premature or have very low body weight, they also don’t have enough fat to help regulate their temperature.
A baby low temperature is a significant problem because it drains their energy reserves. If their temperature falls even for one degree, they use up 10 percent of their oxygen. They need their energy not only to help them keep warm but also to perform other essential functions for survival.
If the baby is sick, the low temperature will prevent them from getting better very quickly due to the lack of energy. Meanwhile, a consistently low temperature increases the risk of hypothermia.
Hypothermia can lead to a variety of symptoms, some of which can be life threatening or fatal. These include heart arrhythmia, lethargy, unconsciousness, and a very weak heart rate.
What to Do
Babies can regulate their temperature but not as well as adults or even children or toddlers. For example, they may sweat, but they don’t create a lot of it. They also do only in certain small areas. They cannot produce enough heat, but they can absorb it easily.
It’s your job to help them control heat loss and gain with the following tips:
1. Monitor Body Temperature
A simple thermometer placed in the armpits will do. A digital thermometer is safer and easier to use. You can do this before and after giving your infant a bath. You should also do so when you’re using air-conditioning. Almost always, if you’re feeling some cold, then your baby feels the same way.
2. Do a Skin-to-Skin Contact
More hospitals are now practicing and encouraging a lot of skin-to-skin contact between mother and child. In fact, as soon as the babies are born, doctors place them on their mother’s chest. Not only does this promote a stronger bond that began 9 months ago, but it also reduces heat loss significantly due to evaporation.
Kangaroo care is highly recommended, especially among preemies (premature babies). The practice began in Colombia sometime in the 1970s as a way of addressing the high mortality rate. The good thing about this procedure is it can also be done by fathers.
During kangaroo care, the mom holds the baby in between her breasts like the father places the infant on his chest. Parents keep the baby’s skin in contact with theirs while a blanket covers the baby’s back. The infant doesn’t have any clothes other than a diaper to maximize the skin-to-skin contact.
Kangaroo care helps regulate temperatures in many ways. One it hastens sleep among babies due to being snuggled. It, thus, improves their energy conservation. Moreover, studies show the women’s breasts can also change in temperature depending on that of their baby. For example, if the baby’s cold, the breasts become warm.
3. Use a Swaddling Wrap.
Also known as swaddling blanket, it is a wrap that helps restrict the baby’s movement. It is one of the best ways to make them feel secure since it mimics the feeling of being snuggled or held. It also offers insulation during colder weather or when you’re running an AC. Moreover, it reduces energy loss by preventing infants from being disturbed by their movements or reflexes.
Some parents can swaddle their babies until 9 to 10 months old. Usually, the ideal time to stop doing it is 4 to 5 months old. You should also consider removing the swaddling blanket if the infant learns to roll over. The restrictions may only increase the chances of suffocation.
4. Check The Water Temperature Before Bathing
Some babies don’t like bathing while others do. Bathing, however, is nonnegotiable but you need to know when and how to give it. Newborns usually don’t need bathing in the tub. All they require is a sponge bath using warmer water and a damp cloth. Consider a more comprehensive bathing by the time the stump of their umbilical cord is already dry and healed.
As to the water temperature, the best is warmer than lukewarm, but it should not be very hot. Otherwise, your baby can suffer from third-degree burns. Make sure you wrap the baby immediately after bathing. Fussy babies should not spend a lot of time in the bath. Overall, keep the time no more than 5 minutes.
5. Adjust The Room Temperature.
Usually, if the baby’s temperature is low, the culprit is the room temperature. It’s either the AC is on full blast, or it’s been running for some time now. Adjust the temperature accordingly. It also helps to bring the baby out once in a while.
Take Some Precaution!
While babies need to feel and stay warm, a high body temperature isn’t right either. They can overheat, which also makes them lose a lot of energy. The key is to keep track of your baby’s temperature on a regular basis. Pay attention to other changes as well such as clammy hands or feet, difficulty in breathing, or diarrhea. It’s possible these body temperature changes are due to an illness.