According to the HSE a child’s normal temperature would be between 36 and 36.8°C (96.8 and 98.24ºF). Anything above 38°C (100.4°F) can be classified as a fever. A low body temperature can be just as serious as a high one and is considered anything below 36°C. If your baby’s temperature drops below 35°C they would be considered to have hypothermia.
Babies are more at risk of becoming cold and developing hypothermia because their little bodies struggle to regulate temperature. The older a baby gets the better they are at regulating by themselves, however it’s very important to be vigilant as parents that we are monitoring the temperature to help to ensure they are keeping well and healthy.
A baby with a low temperature may look and feel healthy but their skin will feel cold. You may find that they are limp, quieter than normal or they can be disinterested in feeding. Your child may be shivering but as body temperature drops the shivering may actually reduce or even stop and your baby may suffer from a loss of consciousness. Cold or pale skin with slow or shallow breathing can also be an indicator of a problem. If you suspect hypothermia it is so important to contact a doctor straight away as this needs to be treated as a medical emergency.
Hypothermia can occur for a few reasons. One is becoming too cold quickly which is known as acute hypothermia but also by becoming slowly cold which is chronic hypothermia. A low temperature can also be a sign of a serious infection such as sepsis, particularly in newborn babies.
Here are some tips and advice on how to ensure your precious little bundle is getting the support they need to regulate their temperature:
- It’s really important to use a hat to help your baby stay warm as a lot of the heat that is lost leaves the body through the head.
- It’s important to ensure the environment where your baby is present is kept warm – ideally a room should be around 18°C and the NHS UK recommend that a baby sleeps in a room which is 16-20°C to reduce the likelihood of SIDS.
- Using multiple thin layers of clothing helps to trap air in and actually keeps you warmer than one large thick layer.
- Wet clothes loose approximately 90% of their insulating power so always make sure that your baby is in nice dry clothes.
What to do if you think your baby is cold:
- Most importantly if you notice any of the symptoms of hypothermia mentioned above seek medical attention immediately.
- Feed your baby warm fluids such as breast milk or warm formula.
- Warm your baby gently (not too fast) by ensuring they are in dry clothes with sufficient layers and wrap in a blanket or coat etc as necessary. Focus on ensuring their heads and torso’s are kept warm.
- Bring them to a warm environment.
- Don’t try to warm your baby by putting them into a warm bath as you may cause their blood vessels to expand too quickly which can cause a drop in blood pressure and this impacts on the bodies ability to deliver blood to the vital organs.
- Don’t try to heat them up by rubbing or massaging their limbs as the primary focus is to ensure blood is moving to their organs – so prioritise wrapping their torso and putting a hat on to ensure a gentle return to normal temperature. If your babies temperature is below 35°C seek medical attention immediately.
I hope you have found this article helpful and if you have any questions at all please don’t hesitate to contact me by sending a private message to the WonderBaba facebook page (www.facebook.com/wonderbabacare) or by calling me (Sheena) at Milltown totalhealth Pharmacy in Dublin 6 on 012600262. I’m always happy to help