In the first months after giving birth, you are just as fascinated with the new baby they are with entering a new world. You want to spend every waking hour with them, even depriving yourself of sleep to make sure they are always okay. When they’re so little, there is a cuteness overload that just makes you want to grab their tiny hands and…you notice they are cold!
Don’t worry. This is perfectly normal.
If your baby’s hands are cold, it doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong. Their torso should be the point of reference for their overall temperature. A healthy baby’s torso is warm and has a pink hue.
A baby’s circulatory system is still in the process of development. The blood flow will be dispersed to the most vital organs first, making their hands and feet the last parts to receive an optimal supply of blood.
- The Development of the Baby’s Circulatory System
- The Ideal Temperature for a Nursery
- Taking Your Baby’s Temperature
- When Should I Call My Doctor?
- Checking if Your Baby is Cold
- Keeping your Baby Comfortable
- Adjusting the Room Temperature
- Keep Your Little One’s Hands Comfortable
The Development of the Baby’s Circulatory System
The usual time it takes for a baby’s blood circulation to completely develop is 3 months. So for the first three months, turning up the thermostat or adding extra layers of blankets won’t really make a difference. The baby is fine, but just needs some time to get used to life outside of the womb.
As your baby becomes more mobile and active, their circulation will improve. In the meantime, checking the back of the neck or the tummy will indicate the baby’s temperature.
The Ideal Temperature for a Nursery
There are a few things you can do to make your baby more comfortable when they have cold hands, and finding the perfect temperature is a great start. Finding an ideal temperature for your nursery is a delicate task, so you’ll need all the expert opinions and helping technology you can get.
The recommended temperature is between 65 and 72 degrees. Depending on how well the baby is dressed, a few digits below 65 might also work. It is important to keep the room at a cool enough temperature that it is comfortable to sleep in.
We recommend using the ThermoPro TP55 room thermometer to measure the temperature in the room the baby spends his time in. The TP55 offers the most accurate readings on the market, and it can be easily mounted or placed in any place of your choice. Not only does it display the room’s temperature every 10 seconds, but it also shows the trend of the temperature so that you can adjust the humidifier or thermostat ahead of time.
Of course, adding or subtracting layers of clothing often works well, especially before putting the baby to sleep. Sometimes, the right socks or full-sleeved shirt can be the perfect temperature regulators.
Taking Your Baby’s Temperature
If your baby’s cold hands and feet still give you a sense of unrest, you can always take their temperature. There are three types of thermometers that are appropriate for taking your child’s temperature.
Digital thermometers record the temperature in less than one minute. The most accurate result will be shown by taking your child’s temperature rectally. Placing the thermometer in your baby’s mouth can also do the trick, although the chances of any child standing still for that are slim. You can also try placing it under their armpit, but usually that will result in the most inaccurate reading out of these 3 options.
The best digital thermometer (suitable for mouth, rectal, or armpit placement) is the Vicks Baby Rectal Thermometer. Its compact shape is designed to prevent over-insertion, and it displays accurate results in just 10 seconds. That might seem a lot in baby time, as they have to remain still regardless of how you use the thermometer, but after a few tries, your little one will get used to it.
Tympanic thermometers, or ear thermometers, will show an accurate reading in a quicker and more comfortable fashion. However, these are suitable for babies aged 6 months or older.
We found the Braun Thermoscan 7 to be the most reliable ear thermometer on the market. The readings are color-coded based on age groups, and its tip is pre-warmed, so it won’t feel cold once it is placed inside the baby’s ear.
Also recommended for babies over 6 months old are forehead thermometers. They are non-contact thermometers that only need to be swiped across the baby’s forehead, much like scanning a product at a grocery store counter. They usually cost more, but there are plenty of parents out there who are willing to pay for the convenience.
The Braun Thermoscan 7 works for taking forehead temperatures as well. You can also try the iProven Medical Digital Ear Thermometer, which serves equally well as an ear thermometer, as its name suggests.
When Should I Call My Doctor?
Have your pediatrician’s number handy at all times, but most instances of cold hands in baby’s will take care of themselves, so don’t panic. If your child displays any of the following signs, it is a good idea to contact the doctor:
- For babies aged 0-3 months: After taking their temperature rectally, it reads 100 degrees or more.
- For babies aged 3-6 months: After taking their temperature rectally, it reads 102 degrees or more, and they seem fussier or drowsier than usual.
- For babies aged 6-24 months: After taking their temperature rectally, it reads 102 degrees or more and stays so for more than a day, even if there are no additional symptoms.
Signs like diarrhea or a cold that doesn’t seem to go away in a timely manner are also an appropriate time to consult your pediatrician.
Checking if Your Baby is Cold
Not only is it perfectly normal for a baby’s hands and feet to feel cold, but sometimes they even take on a bluish hue. There still isn’t any reason to be alarmed. This may be worrisome for older kids and adults, but it is still part of their developing body and blood flow circulation.
All babies need in those moments is a little bit of heat. This can be achieved with one layer, you don’t need to over-bundle. After a few minutes, check for signs of overheating to find out if the layer is too thick for what the baby needs, or if he needs more heat. Based on that, you can keep adding or taking away a layer after every few minutes, until you notice their temperature returns to normal.
Keeping your Baby Comfortable
Keeping the Crib Bare
When covering your newborn up during cold seasons, the blanket in the crib should be tucked in on the sides only go up to their chest. Pillows, crib bumpers, or stuffed animals may be detrimental to the baby during the first 6 months. These can inhibit the breathability babies need during their sleep. The blanket needs to be breathable and lightweight enough to prevent overheating.
Using a Fan
Depending on how hot it is inside due to increased temperatures outside, you can always benefit from a fan. A fan won’t cause your baby to get a cold, as it only circulates the already existing air in the room. The temperature will remain the same but the air will feel fresh, which is great for your little one.
What better way to keep track of the temperature in your baby’s room than being right next to him? Sharing a room with your toddler during the first 6 months is encouraged even by the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) as it can drastically reduce the risk of SIDS.
SIDS stands for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, which can happen during the first 6 months while the baby is asleep. The chances are slim, but aside from pre-existing physical factors, breathing problems (often caused by colds) are also one of the causes of SIDS.
This does not mean you should let your baby share your bed. Instead, move their crib into your room. Or if there is a bed in his room waiting for them to grow and use it, you can test it out for the first 6 months. So when you’ll feel sweaty or chilly, your baby will most likely feel it in the room too. Take the measures you take for yourself, for your baby as well.
Another precaution against SIDS is placing the baby on their back while sleeping. This also allows the airflow around his face to be more generous. The lungs are more able to take in air if they are not pressed upon, as they would be if they sleep on their tummy. Soon they will be able to turn over by themselves. Until then, they should always start off by sleeping on their back.
The tendency to keep your baby from getting cold can often cause parents to create extra warm conditions. That little “extra” can cause overheating, which may lead to other discomforts for both you and the baby.
Any of the following symptoms may be caused by overheating:
- Cheeks are flushed
- Hair is damp
- They breathe faster than usual
- They are extra fussy, despite having eaten and not needing a diaper change
To prevent overheating, help their bodies keep a stable balance in temperature. For instance, use a comfortable sleep sack instead of putting layers of blankets or thick pajamas on the baby. And if the baby is already sick, you need to counterbalance their already high body temperature with fewer and thinner layers, to bring the temperature back down.
Adjusting the Room Temperature
This should be no real issue if you have a thermostat and air conditioning. Just set the display to the temperature that feels right during those hot days. If you don’t have air conditioning and a thermostat, there are some other ways to give your little one a little relief.
A fan is helpful. It is best to use an oscillating standing floor fan, so that you don’t point it directly in the baby’s direction. Set it in rotation mode and try out all available speeds to monitor what it feels like on yourself, and implicitly on your baby.
Airflow Through Windows
You can also open two differently-situated windows in your living space. One in the baby’s room, and one either in the same room or in another. This will create circular air ventilation which brings in a much sought-after breeze and freshness in the air.
As for layering, you might want to consider a light onesie for the baby. A light pair of socks may work as well, which you can either leave on or take off, depending on how your baby reacts to the temperature experiments. Make sure the bedding is also lightweight, preferably made of organic fabric.
Keeping Their Food Cool
Have a bottle of chilled breastmilk or formula ready for the baby. Since these are the only two sources of nutrition for the first 6 months, storing formula or breastmilk in the refrigerator or freezer will contribute positively to keeping a balanced temperature during the summer.
The recommended temperature of 65 to 72 degrees should be applied during winter as well. Thermostats are still the best option for keeping an optimal temperature in the baby’s nursery.
The baby should have enough layers to keep warm during the winter. Try it out with one lightweight layer at a time, and socks if necessary, until the baby appears to rest comfortably and with no cold symptoms.
Hats and beanies should be avoided, as the head is a source of temperature self-regulation, which will be inhibited by the heat a beanie provides.
Keep Your Little One’s Hands Comfortable
A baby’s hands and feet will be the last to receive tangible heat. If their backs and tummies are warm and pink, you have nothing to worry about, at least until they turn 6 months old. All you can do until then is try to keep a steady temperature so that the baby doesn’t sweat due to overheating or start coughing due to cold air. Thermostat dials and lightweight layers will serve as trustworthy companions during these first months. Don’t let their little hands and feet discourage you, as their temperature isn’t necessarily a bad sign.
It is best to always keep an eye on the baby to monitor how they deal with the temperature around them. Sometimes it may fluctuate, but unless it gets way too low, there’s most likely nothing to worry about.