A newborn in a hat, especially at the hospital after just being born, is the quintessential look that people think of when they think of babies. If you are a new parent or will be soon then you might be wondering why newborns always wear hats and when they should and shouldn’t wear them.
Newborns wear hats more frequently than older babies to help keep them warm while their bodies develop the ability to regulate their core body temperature. Generally, babies should wear a hat outside if it is cool enough for long sleeves and indoors if the temperature is lower than about 68 degrees. Care should be taken to ensure that the baby is neither too hot or too cold when considering a hat.
Each of the sections below will answer specific questions related to when and why babies should wear hats. Keep reading to learn more about when you should put a hat on your baby.
When should newborn babies wear hats?
Newborn babies lose body heat through their heads, this is why most hospitals will provide a hat for babies to wear immediately after birth. Inside their mothers’ womb, babies are used to an extremely warm environment. In fact, according to Healthfully, the temperature inside of the average womb is around 99.6 degrees Fahrenheit. So it comes as no surprise that newborn babies like to be bundled up to keep their core temperature warm.
The simple answer is that newborns or any other baby should wear a hat when they are cold. Unfortunately, there are many factors to consider when determining whether or not your baby is actually cold and much of it has to do with her age and the temperature outside indoors.
Let’s look at some more specific questions about this topic.
Can hats make a baby too warm?
First, I want to share a bit of a personal story that answers this very question. As with everything, the details matter, but this story shows how easy it is for us parents to cause harm with only the best intentions.
If you are lucky, like I am, you maintain relationships with some of your very best friends like I have throughout life. We survived high school together, we meandered through college together, we stood by each other at weddings, and now we are navigating parenthood together. My friends and I have learned to lean on each other more than ever now that we have brought babies into these relationships.
I will never forget the day that one of my closest friends called me in a panic. Her baby girl, just a week old at the time, had a persistent fever that would not break. She was on her way to the local hospital to be admitted. Terrifying possibilities flew through my mind. Could it be Meningitis? The flu? RSV? My friend paced a hospital room in the Pediatric unit as her daughter was tested for everything under the sun. The attending Pediatrician finally entered the room to give us a diagnosis.
The baby had simply been bundled up a little too well. Wrapped in a blanket, socks on her tiny little feet, and a pink hat on her perfect head; her body temperature was elevated for no other reason than her mamma wanted to make sure she stayed warm.
At the time, it was not a funny subject, but now we can look back and laugh at how little we knew as new parents in the beginning. Unfortunately, this occurrence is not all that uncommon. Knowing how much or how little to bundle your sweet new baby up can be a bit of a guessing game.
If your baby seems to be running a fever, more irritable than usual, or just feels hot to you then consider how much clothing she is wearing and start there. As always, consult a doctor immediately if you are ever concerned about your baby’s temperature.
To help avoid overdressing our babies, let’s look at normal temperatures to consider putting one on.
At what temperature should babies wear a hat?
There is not much research to definitively answer the question of which temperatures require a hat and which temperatures do not require one. However, I personally admire the advice I have heard on many different occasions. Whatever the weather is outside, consider what you need and add a layer. So, if you require a single layer with long sleeves, then dress baby in long sleeves with a light jacket.
In any event, if your baby is wearing long sleeves, then a light hat is probably a good idea. According to What to Expect, babies’ should not need a hat if the temperature is over 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Where I live the temperature may be cool enough for a hat in the early morning, but warm enough for shorts in the afternoon. The best thing about hats is that they are easily removed and stored away inside the diaper bag. If you have any indication that your baby may be too warm, it is probably a good idea to tuck the hat away and let your baby cool down.
According to Healthline, a babies’ body temperature (rectal) should be between 97.9 and 99 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are ever in doubt, the best practice is always to call your child’s healthcare provider and ask the question directly.
Should newborns wear hats to sleep?
According to Save Our Sleep, a website dedicated to researching and reporting safe-sleeping practices for babies, newborn babies should definitely not wear hats to sleep. They report that wearing hats to bed significantly increases the risk of SIDS in babies from newborn to one-year-old. That’s because a hat could easily fall off of your baby’s head while she sleeps and become a choking or suffocation hazard.
Instead, they recommend a sleep sack, claiming that this will keep baby plenty warm during sleep.
If you want to learn more about sleep sacks along with my personal recommendations, then check out my resource on them here.
Should babies wear hats indoors?
For the first week or so, babies may be most comfortable when wearing a hat because they are used to the warmth inside of their mother’s womb. However, this should only be done when the baby is supervised and is likely not necessary inside if the temperature is within the recommended frame.
According to Sleep Advisor, the ideal indoor temperature for newborn babies is between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. If the baby seems comfortable and their body temperature is within the normal range, then a hat likely is not necessary.
Should babies wear hats outside?
Babies should wear hats outside when the weather is cool enough to warrant long sleeves for an adult. Any time that an adult would be uncomfortable outside without long sleeves on, then a baby likely needs to wear a hat while outside.
If you are worried about what your baby should wear home from the hospital when it’s cold outside, I have created a resource that answers this very question right here!
If the temperature is warm enough for short sleeves, then a baby likely does not need a hat. However, I like to be prepared in the case of weather change, or a cool wind, or rain and always pack a hat in our baby’s bag just in case she winds up needing one.
Should newborns wear hats in the summer?
Newborns likely will not need to wear a hat in the summer for temperature’s sake. However, the temperature is not the only factor that can affect a newborn baby. Sun exposure is a concern that many parents face when taking their babies outside. Sun hats are a lightweight solution that can shade newborns from damaging sun rays while they are outside in summer.
As suggested earlier, keep an eye on your baby’s core body temperature and remove hats if your baby seems to be getting too hot.
How long do newborns need to wear hats?
A representative for the American Academy of Pediatrics told Baby Center that hats are no longer necessary for healthy full-term babies once they are discharged from the hospital. This means that it is entirely up to their parents to determine when and where a baby requires a hat.
How long do preemies need to wear hats?
Babies who are born premature struggle with a myriad of issues from breastfeeding to regulating their body temperature on their own. Because premature babies tend to struggle with regulating their own body temperature, wearing a hat may be necessary for a little longer than a full-term baby.
When in the NICU, nurses and doctors closely monitor premature babies’ body temperatures and adjust their environment as needed. Once a premature baby is discharged to go home, closely monitoring body temperature is important for the first two or three weeks and the baby might need to wear a hat more often than a full-term baby.
Your baby’s body temperature will be your clue as to whether or not the baby needs to wear a hat. According to Sutter Health, babies whose body temperature is at or below 97.6 degrees Fahrenheit likely need to be bundled up a bit. Additionally, a fussy baby can be a clue that the baby might be uncomfortable.