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Kangaroo Care
Bundle me after the bath
Bundled up for the night

In our last article we wrote about the importance of preventing excessive heat loss in infants. Today we’ll provide additional information on the best strategies for keeping your newborn warm.

Skin-to Skin Contact

Just google skin-to-skin contact in newborns and you will find mountains of research about the benefits of this simple act.  Much of the information available focuses on the importance of skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth, but the benefit does not end here.  Skin-to-skin contact –known as Kangaroo Care in premature babies– means baby is naked (diaper only) chest-to-chest with a parent (whose chest is also unclothed), perhaps with a blanket draped over them both to keep in the heat.

Not only does skin to skin contact help to stabilize the newborn’s core body temperature, but there are numerous other benefits such as improved breastfeeding outcomes, less fussiness, stable blood sugar and cardiovascular function. It’s also an extremely nurturing and bonding activity.


A primary mechanism for heat loss in an infant is through evaporation during and after bathing.  To minimize heat loss, consider taking an axillary (arm pit) temperature of your newborn and delaying the bath if the temperature is below 98.0˚F (36.7˚C).  Increase the ambient temperature prior to bathing and perform the bath in a smaller room where the heat won’t dissipate as quickly and there are no drafts.  Dry and dress the baby immediately and especially before bringing him back into a colder room.


During the winter, most doctors and newborn experts will say that an ambient temperature of 65˚F - 70˚F  (18˚ C – 21˚C) is sufficient.  In fact some consider acceptable a temperature as low as 61˚(16˚C). The point is that you do not need to keep the house warmer than you typically would for yourself.  

That being said, it is still important to maintain the baby’s core body temperature within the normal limits. Dress the baby in footed sleeper pajamas with a short or long-sleeved body suit underneath for extra insulation.  Another option is to use a sleep sack over the baby’s pajamas which sort of acts as a sleeveless blanket but does not restrict the baby’s arm movement.  

Since babies lose a lot of heat through their heads, be sure to keep a hat on the newborn at night to minimize heat loss. At the same time, don’t cover his head with any bedding or use loose blankets that can end up covering his head. Please note that it is not recommended to put blankets on top of the baby because it may increase the risk of suffocation or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).


Maintaining a newborn’s core body temperature between 97.5 ˚F – 99.0˚ F (36.4 ˚C – 37.2˚ C) is critical to avoid complications such as cold stress, hypoglycemia, and/or overheating.  Implementing a few important actions during bathing and night time routines, and making time for skin-to-skin contact, will help to keep your baby warm and comfortable, and minimize chances that you baby will experience excessive heat loss and any associated complications.

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Showing 2 comments.

  • AllaVerba said ...
    19 days ago
  • Pablo Calderon said ...
    about 7 years ago
    Nighttime ambient temperature is a constant argument between mother and father, isn't it? Even if you don't have a child :)
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