Temperatures and Dressing your Baby
Updated: Aug 5, 2019
My little one was born on the 3rd January 2015. Not only was it one of the most magical days of our life, but it was also the hottest day of that particular summer! Of course, I wouldn’t have known about the raging heat outside as I snuggled my first born from the comfort of my air-conditioned hospital room.
That afternoon my husband said he was going home for sleep. “Don’t leave me” I said, “just have a nap in the car”. He looked at me as if I was trying to kill him. It was 42 degrees outside!
But it definitely brought up a good point.
What does one wear home after giving birth? And I’m not talking about myself, but the baby?!
The midwife who delivered our bub was very particular about how to dress while on the ward: nappy, singlet, onesie and about 3000 bunny rugs, tightly swaddled around my little bundle.
But for some reason, I had in the back of my mind that babies overheat quickly. So, when we finally stepped outside together and into the summer heat, I think my poor boy was freezing. I’d dress him in a little singlet, and this is all.
Why? It terrified me to think he was going to have a febrile convulsion or get sick or dehydrated. I was also aware that getting too hot was linked with sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) and that bub should be comfortably warm - not hot, sweaty or cold. But in hindsight, one more layer would have been beneficial.
So, learning from experience, let me break it down for y’all:
In the heat
Dressing baby in natural fibres is my first tip. Cool cotton onesies and wraps are useful in all extreme weather conditions. If it is extremely hot, just one layer of light cotton may be enough - especially when feeding.
In blistering hot heat, the skin-to-skin element of breastfeeding can be uncomfortable for both Mum and baby. To combat this, the Australian Breastfeeding Association recommends:
A towel, pillowcase, or cloth nappy placed between your baby and your arm and body
A cool, damp face washer in the crook of your arm
Lying down to feed, as only baby's mouth and your breast need be in contact
Also, don’t forget to drink water at each feed to stay hydrated - even if you are bottle feeding your baby, this is still a good habit to adopt.
In the cool
In the colder months, it was different. The days were like New York Fashion Week had hit the streets! It can be so much fun dressing the baby at this time of year. But the cold nights brought about new challenges. How to keep my baby warm - but comfortable and safe.
Again, natural fibres are important - if you use anything with polar fleece (blankets, sleep sacks or onesies), remember they are 100% synthetic, and babies skin cannot breathe. If in direct contact with the skin, bubs will become very hot and sweaty. You must have a layer of natural fibre between babies skin and the polar fleece if you are using anything made of synthetic fabric.
Night time sleeping
There is some contention about hats at night. According to the Raising Children website "Babies can overheat quickly if they wear hats or bonnets to bed. In fact, heat escapes through their heads and faces, so babies can only cool themselves down if their heads are uncovered." Keeping your baby’s head uncovered in bed will help regulate a comfortable temperature and also avoid the headwear from slipping down over their face and causing risk of suffocation.
For nighttime sleeping also think about what you yourselves are wearing to bed, plus the bedding. Baby needs to be in enough warm clothes to stay warm without blankets. Alternatively, you can also wrap or use a safe infant sleeping bag. Be sure to check out the Red Nose website for their recommendations regarding baby sleep bags.
Feel for their temperature
My final hot tip (ha, get it?) is to check a babies temperature you need to feel their backs and tummy. Your little one's hands and feet may be cool to the touch, but their core temperature is what is important to note. For more information regarding temperature and it’s connection with SUDI we highly recommend downloading and reading through the Red Nose app.
To all of those Mummas out there who are feeling a little unsure when it comes to dressing their baby depending on the temperature, I hope this post brings you some clarity!
References and extra reading: