Knowing how to keep your new baby comfortable is a common concern among new parents. According to "The Baby Book," by William and Martha Sears, the age and size of your new baby makes a difference in how savvy their systems are in handling environmental temperatures. The temperature, though, is not the only thing that matters when it comes to keeping your baby comfortable.
A consistency in temperature is important when it comes to keeping your newborn comfortable. If your baby was premature, under five-and-a-half pounds or is within the first few weeks of life, her temperature regulating systems are not fully developed and can't adjust to abrupt temperature changes. A full-term baby over eight pounds usually has enough body fat and a temperature regulating system that will allow her to be comfortable at around 68 to 70 degrees.
According to the Sears', the humidity in the environment is important. By keeping the relative humidity at 50 percent, your baby is less likely to experience a stuffy nose. The Sears' recommend turning on a warm-mist humidifier at the same time you turn the heat on each year.
The Sears' offer the general rule of dressing your baby in as much clothing as you would wear to stay comfortable, and then add one layer. Cotton clothing allows for air circulation and the absorption of body moisture, making it the recommended material for clothing. The clothing your baby wears should be loose enough for easy movement, but should not be so loose that your baby is able to wiggle body parts out of the appropriate areas.
Blanket sleepers are beneficial for babies who sleep alone, but if your baby sleeps with you in bed, the warmth from your body will cause him to overheat. Dressing him in just a cotton sleeper is a better idea. Your baby's feet should be covered, either by his sleeper or with booties, and remember to avoid strings and ties in the crib.
Glade Curtis, MD and Judith Schuler, MS, authors of "Your Baby's First Year: Week by Week," recommend the following for keeping your baby warm until her internal thermostat reaches its full level of functioning: cuddle baby close, swaddle her, use a hot-water bottle wrapped in a blanket beside her when she is laying down, or use it to warm her sheets before nap time. Curtis and Schuler caution parents to be sure the sheets and water bottle are not too hot for the baby.
Parents may questions when it is okay to take their newborns out. The Sears' advise, in keeping with the need to maintain a consistent temperature and if your baby is eight pounds or more, that taking your baby out for a walk in moderate temperatures is acceptable. If you are living in an area where the indoor and outdoor temperatures are similar, you can take your baby out for a walk within the first few days.
The Sears' recommend avoiding crowds, malls, and people who are sick should you decide to take your baby out, and remind parents that going outside will not make your baby sick. Exposing your baby to sick people will.
- "The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two"; William Sears, MD and Martha Sears, RN; 2003
- "Your Baby's First Year: Week by Week"; Glade B. Curtis, MD, MPH and Judith Schuler, MS; 2010