When it's cold in the baby and what to do

When the baby's body temperature is below 36.5º C, it is considered a situation known as hypothermia, which is relatively common in babies, especially premature babies, since their body surface in relation to their weight is much higher, facilitating the loss body heat, especially when in cold environments. This imbalance between heat loss and the limitation to produce heat is the main cause of hypothermia in healthy babies.

It is important that the baby's hypothermia is identified and treated according to the pediatrician's guidance, as this way it is possible to avoid complications such as hypoglycemia, high blood acidity and respiratory changes, which can put the baby's life at risk. Thus, it is important that newborns are kept warm shortly after birth.

How to identify that the baby has hypothermia

It is possible to identify hypothermia in the baby by observing some signs and symptoms, such as cold skin, not only on the hands and feet, but also on the face, arms and legs, in addition to the change in the baby's skin color, which can become more bluish due to the decrease in blood vessel caliber. In addition, decreased reflexes, vomiting, hypoglycemia, decreased amount of urine produced during the day can also be observed in some cases.

In addition to observing the signs and symptoms of hypothermia, it is important to measure the baby's body temperature using a thermometer that should be placed in the baby's armpit. Hypothermia below 36.5ºC is considered, and can be classified according to temperature as:

  • Mild hypothermia: 36 - 36.4ºC
  • Moderate hypothermia: 32 - 35.9ºC
  • Severe hypothermia: below 32ºC

As soon as a decrease in the baby's body temperature is identified, it is important to dress the baby in appropriate clothing, in an attempt to regulate body temperature, in addition to consulting the pediatrician so that the best treatment is indicated and complications can be avoided.

If hypothermia is not identified or treated, the baby may develop complications that can be life-threatening, such as respiratory failure, altered heart rate and increased blood acidity.

What to do

When observing that the baby has a temperature below the ideal, strategies should be sought to warm the child up, with appropriate clothes, hats and blankets. The baby should be taken to the hospital to start treatment as soon as possible, if the baby does not warm up or has difficulty sucking, decreased movement, tremors or bluish extremities.

The pediatrician should assess the baby and identify the cause of the temperature drop, which may be related to a cold environment and inadequate clothing, hypoglycemia or other metabolic disorders, neurological or cardiac problems.

The treatment consists of warming the baby up with appropriate clothes, a pleasant room temperature, and in some cases it may be necessary to place the baby in an incubator with direct light to raise body temperature. When the low body temperature occurs due to a health problem, it must be resolved as soon as possible.

How to dress the baby properly

To prevent the baby from developing hypothermia, it is recommended that the baby is dressed in appropriate clothing for the environment, but the newborn baby loses heat very quickly, and therefore should always wear long-sleeved clothing, long pants, a hat and socks. Gloves are necessary when the ambient temperature is below 17ºC, but care must be taken not to put too much clothing on the baby and cause overheating, which is equally dangerous for children's health.

So, a good way to find out if the baby is wearing the right clothes is to place the back of your own hand on the baby's neck and chest. If there are signs of sweat, you can remove a layer of clothing, and if your arms or legs are cold, you should add another layer of clothing.