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Discharge Instructions: Keeping Your Newborn Warm

Your baby can’t tell you when he 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 her in a sleeper or an infant zip-up blanket. Keeping the baby’s temperature in a normal range helps keep 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. Wrap her 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.

 

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 his head over the straight base of the triangle and his feet over the point.

  • Pull one side of the triangle all the way over the baby’s torso and tuck it under the baby’s body (Figure 1). A baby is most comfortable with his arms folded over his chest. You can pull the blanket over the baby’s arms to keep them contained. Or, you can leave one arm free so the baby can suck on his fingers. (Try not to wrap the baby with his arms straight down by his sides.)

  • Bring the bottom of the blanket snugly over the baby’s feet and all the way up to his neck (Figure 2).

  • 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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