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Discharge Instructions: Keeping Your Newborn Warm

Your baby can’t tell you when he or she is too hot or cold. So, you need to keep your home warm enough and make sure the baby is dressed right. Keep the temperature in your home in the low 70s. Dress the baby the way you would want to be dressed for that temperature. During sleep, dress the baby in a sleeper or an infant zip-up blanket. Keeping the baby’s temperature in a normal range helps keep him or her comfortable and healthy.

How to Know If Your Baby Is Uncomfortable

You can often tell if a baby is uncomfortable by looking at and touching her skin:

  • Hands that feel cold or look blue or blotchy mean the baby is too cold. Swaddle the baby in a blanket or put on a hat, sweater, jumper (“onesie”) with feet, or socks.

  • Flushed, red skin means the baby is too hot. Restlessness is another sign. Remove some clothing or a blanket.

 

Image showing first step of swaddling a baby.

Image showing second step of swaddling a baby.

Image showing third step of swaddling a baby.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

 

How to Swaddle Your Baby

Wrapping your baby securely in a blanket (swaddling) helps the baby feel warm and safe. Here is one method:

  • Fold a square blanket diagonally to make a triangle. Turn the triangle so the flat base is at the top and the point is at the bottom.

  • Lay the baby on top of the blanket with the head over the straight base of the triangle and the feet toward the point.

  • Pull 1 side of the triangle all the way over the baby’s torso and tuck it under the baby’s body (Figure 1). You can pull the blanket over the baby’s arms to keep them contained. Or, you can leave 1 arm free so the baby can suck on its fingers.

  • Bring the bottom of the blanket loosely over the baby’s feet and all the way up to the neck (Figure 2). It is very important to keep the baby's feet and legs free to move. Tight swaddling is associated with a condition called hip dysplasia. If your baby has hip dysplasia, do not swaddle him or her. 

  • Wrap the other side of the triangle across the baby’s chest (Figure 3).

  • After your baby is swaddled, place your baby on his or her back for sleep, even at naptime. Check often for the following:

    • The blanket stays secure. A loose blanket can cover the baby’s face and cause suffocation.

    • The baby is not overheated. If your baby is hot, remove the blanket and use a lighter blanket or sheet, and swaddle again.

 

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