Babies don’t (and can’t) shiver, but they do have another mechanism for increasing their heat production when the temperature drops — by huddling together with people or other warm objects.
They curl into a ball and tuck themselves up under blankets, against the warmth of their parents’ bodies if they’re lucky enough to be held by them at the time so that they can use their parents’ body heat.
However, this means that if someone wants to keep the baby safe from feeling too cold, one of the most effective things they can do is make sure there are always extra layers between the baby and any chilly drafts. This way baby will be able to conserve the body heat that she could have used to warm herself up.
Below are some ways how to tell if the baby is cold.
Signs of coldness in babies include:
1. Slower breathing (rate less than 40 per minute when awake)
Substantially slower breathing in babies can also be caused by illness or fatigue. If the baby is asleep, his/her respiration rate will usually drop to the normal sleep range; unless the baby is ill or fatigued.
2. Pauses between breaths
Substantially more pronounced pauses between breaths (apnea, pause greater than 3 seconds), especially if accompanied by turning pale or bluish skin colour in the upper body area.
If the baby is breathing fast and hard enough that you can see the movement of his/her chest between breaths, then he/she is NOT cold.
3. A weak cry
When a baby cries, his/her chest moves up and down. If this movement is not obvious, the cry is weak.
4. Excessive sweating
Sweating on the face, head, upper body with the absence of cold symptoms, especially in an infant under 3 months old.
If the baby has sweat beads around his/her nose or forehead, he/she is NOT cold.
Cold skin results from poor circulation to the skin surface as well as a lack of subcutaneous fat tissue for insulation. A thin infant feels cold faster than a chubby one because s/he gives off more heat relative to their size. The younger the child, the thinner his/her skin layer becomes and therefore the less insulation there will be against heat loss.
For example, a 1-year-old has a thick, oily skin layer and is, therefore, less likely to feel cold than a 3-month-old baby with thin skin.
ADVICE: If you put on some extra clothes before touching your child because you feel cold, then your child is probably colder than you think he/she is!
If you suspect that your infant or toddler is unusually cold for no obvious reason, ALWAYS check the state of his/her face first. Do this by simply lifting his/her chin (while s/he is sleeping) and looking at his/her eyes and mouth.
These are the only areas that you need to check: if both eyes and mouth look normal, then he/she does NOT have a lower body temperature problem; instead, s/he might be cold and/or tired.
5. Pale skin colour because of inadequate circulation to the skin surface.
The cold will always cause paleness in infants up to 6 months old, but it is important to check eyes and mouth using the method described above (lift baby’s chin) to make sure that the baby doesn’t look pale for other reasons. This is especially necessary when your infant or toddler has a low normal resting heart rate (below 100 beats per minute).
If his/her face looks pale for any reason whatsoever, then you need to initiate CPR immediately.
6. Scant pink colour
Scant pink colour (also known as “intermittent cyanosis,” which can appear like a bluish tint around the nose and mouth) because of inadequate tissue oxygenation (inadequate circulation to the skin surface as well as lack of subcutaneous fat tissue for insulation) Baby should always look pale before he/she starts looking blue because there is no way that intermittent cyanosis can appear without paleness first.
7. Purplish nose and upper lip
Baby’s nose and upper lip turn purplish or bluish-grey because of non-oxygenated blood (which has a very dark, almost black colour in comparison with oxygenated blood) If the baby looks purple or blue anywhere on his/her body except around the mouth and nose, then s/he does NOT have cold symptoms.