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Keeping your baby warm

All newborn babies are at risk of having an abnormally low body temperature (hypothermia) – especially those born premature or unwell. A low body temperature in babies can be dangerous and can lead to serious health complications. For some babies it will mean admission to the neonatal unit, leading to medical interventions and prolonged hospital stays. Keeping newborn babies warm (but not too warm) is therefore a critical intervention that can improve a range of longer-term outcomes.

Keeping your baby warm - A guide for parents


Keeping your baby warm - video transcript

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The short video is designed to show you how to enjoy

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safe skin-to-skin care with your newborn baby,

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why this is important and how to dress and cover your baby afterwards.

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After your baby is born, you will be offered your baby immediately

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or as soon as possible for what is called skin-to-skin care.

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This is when your naked baby is placed directly onto your skin,

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usually wearing only a hat and a nappy.

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Your baby will be covered with the correct number of sheets and blankets

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to keep your baby at the perfect temperature.

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You should be able to see your baby's face at all times,

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and baby's neck should be nice and straight with their head upwards,

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so they can breathe easily.

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Your baby's temperature

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and your temperature will be checked within the first hour of life

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because if you are too hot to cold, this can impact on your baby.

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Your midwife would also check the temperature of the room you are in

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to make sure you and your baby have the correct number of layers on.

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Safe skin-to-skin care is calming for both parent and baby.

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It helps strengthen early feeding cues for baby,

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it helps your baby at the right temperature,

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and it is a beautiful time to bond with your baby and get to know them.

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Birth partners can provide skin-to-skin too.

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So what happens next?

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Each parent and baby are unique and will all do things slightly differently.

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But as a general rule of thumb, there are three key points

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to keep in mind about when to get your baby dressed.

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These points are:

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number one,

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after at least one hour of safe skin-to-skin care.

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And or number two, after baby has had their first feed.

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And or number three, when mum or dad

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or your other birth partner is ready to.

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This is a time when baby may start to get cold

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if they are not dressed and covered properly.

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So try not to leave your baby naked if you are not doing skin-to-skin care anymore.

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Dress your baby in a vest and a baby grow and then either one or two

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0.5 tog blankets depending on the room temperature.

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For example, if the room temperature is 21 degrees,

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your baby will need four layers over them.

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Like this example, a vest is one layer, a baby grow is a second layer.

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And then each unfolded blanket counts as another layer.

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If you fold your blanket in half, this counts as two layers.

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There are room thermometers and easy-to-follow posters in all delivery

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areas at the Rosie, so you can work out how many layers your baby needs.

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Sometimes your baby may need

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more or less layers if their temperature is slightly high or low.

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But your midwife will check this and help you work it out.

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If you think your baby feels too hot or too cold,

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please ask your midwife to check your baby's temperature.

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Don't forget your baby's hat,

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this is a really good way to help your baby stay at the right temperature

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after they are first born because babies lose a lot of heat from their heads.

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But they can also make baby too hot

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if they are not taken off when they are not needed.

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The best way to work this out is to feel your baby's chest

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and back with your bare hands to see if they feel like the right temperature

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and ask your midwife for advice on when to take your baby's hat off

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until you get used to how your baby feels.

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These posters are in every delivery room

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at the Rosie Hospital and show how to do safe skin-to-skin care,

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when to stop doing skin-to-skin care and what to do next.

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There is a guide for how many layers your baby will need on them

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depending on the room temperature you are in

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and of course, your midwife will be there to support you and your baby

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and make sure you have everything you may need.

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If you are unsure about anything at all,

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or you want to check if your baby is the right temperature,

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your midwife will be able to help you at any time.

Why do babies get cold?

  • They have a large body surface area in relation to their weight.
  • They have a large head in proportion to their body.
  • They have little subcutaneous fat.
  • They are not able to shiver.

Cold babies can develop hypoglycaemia, metabolic acidosis and respiratory distress; they are more likely to need admission to the neonatal unit.

What can you do to help?

  • Safe skin-to-skin care;
  • Appropriate dressing and wrapping of baby after skin-to-skin;
  • Early temperature check to make sure your baby is 'not too hot, not too cold, but just right'.
  • Early feeding.

Patient information leaflets