It’s probably not news that your baby doesn’t experience heat in the same way that you do – she’s far more sensitive to cold. As a rule of thumb, you should dress her in the same number of layers as you’re wearing, plus one more.
Worried you’ve overdone it? Look out for these signs.
Hot to the touch
The most reliable way to tell if your baby is too hot is simply by touching her. A hand down her back will tell you all you need to know. You can also check her ears and neck. Dampness caused by sweat is also a giveaway.
Just as your cheeks get a little rosy on a particularly hot day, your baby’s ears and neck will probably be more red than usual if she’s feeling too hot.
Too tired to move
Granted, your newborn isn’t likely to be doing any party tricks just yet. But if she seems more lethargic than usual, or isn’t moving about at all, it might be time to remove a layer.
Dizzy and disoriented
Vomiting, dizziness and disorientation are all signs of heatstroke in adults, and they can also present in older babies. Some children will also appear to be running a fever, although they won’t be sweating.
Newborns, especially, have heartbeats and breathing patterns that seem super-fast to our ears. If these seem even more rapid than usual, consider it a warning sign. Not sure how to tell if this is the case? Simply look at how quickly her chest is rising and falling. If fast breaths are accompanied by restlessness, it’s time to cool her down.
Young babies generally aren’t the best sleepers, so this isn’t a definitive sign. That said, if any other symptoms are present, sleeplessness should be considered a red flag.
A heat rash is probably one of the most sure-fire signs that it’s time to remove some layers. Presenting as little red bumps, which may occasionally develop into blisters if the condition is very severe, the rash usually appears on the upper body and is caused by sweat glands becoming blocked.
Since your baby can’t yet vocalise how she’s feeling, her moods are one of the best barometers of her state. Of course, a touch of irritability could simply mean that she’s in a cranky mood, but if combined with other signs, it may mean that she has a headache or feels nauseous because she’s too hot.
In her 16 years as journalist, Lisa Witepski’s work has appeared in most of South Africa’s leading publications, including the Mail & Guardian, Sunday Times, Entrepreneur and Financial Mail. She has written for a number of women’s magazines, including Living & Loving, Essentials and many others, across topics from lifestyle to travel, wellness, business and finance. She is a former acting Johannesburg Bureau Chief for Cosmopolitan, and former Features Editor at Travel News Weekly, but, above all, a besotted mom to Leya and Jessica. Lisa blogs at whydoialwayscravecake.blogspot.com and lisa.witepski.blogspot.com, and tweets at @LisaWitepski.