The Downside of Newborn Hats

Newborn babies are just so yummy! Their smell, their teeny tiny features, their sound, their innocence….(sigh)…they are so mesmerizing! The classic picture of a newborn baby is of them all cleaned up, swaddled, with the blue and pink striped hospital beanie on. Everything newborn is cute, maybe because it’s so little? I don’t know, but I had to buy my son-to-be some super cute baby beanies because I remembered learning in nursing school how important it was to put a hat on the baby almost as soon as it was born. We were taught that babies lose heat from their head the fastest, so in order to regulate their temperature, they needed to be swaddled and their heads covered immediately and at all times.

It wasn’t until I started looking at other people’s birthing plans that I found there is actually a negative side to putting a hat on a newborn, and a rather significant one! As I continue to learn about pregnancy, labor, and all that happens in the mom and baby’s body through this process, I am blown away! There is such an evident, perfect, and intricate process created for reproduction! Ok…let’s get to the facts of how newborn hats can significantly get in the way of baby and mom’s healing process after birth.

  1. It covers up the “new baby smell” (& it’s a bigger deal than you might have thought!)

Ok, THIS. IS. AMAZING. Most of you know, newborns have this amazingly sweet, fresh scent when they’re born. It turns out smell is one of the first senses that bonds baby to mom and dad. Baby recognizes your scent as soon as they are put on your chest. Mom is also biologically primed to recognize the scent of her baby. As soon as mom gets a good whiff of that delicious baby smell immediately after birth, biologically things start happening in mom’s body.

3rd Stage of Labor- Baby smell is one of the cues that triggers the third stage of labor, which is delivering the placenta. Mom gets a huge rush of oxytocin hormone to the brain triggered by this smell, which causes the uterus to contract and safely expel the placenta and encouraging constriction of blood vessles. Proper placenta delivery and constriction of the blood vessels is critical to ensure mom stops bleeding and starts healing. Every mom and dad is scared of birthing complications. Making sure you snuggle up to your naked baby on your chest is nature’s powerful way of finishing labor and advancing healing.

Bonding- This intoxicating baby smell is one of the most important bonding cues in a baby and mother’s brain due to the hormone production in the brain. This is where your magical relationship ignites on a chemical, biological, emotional, physical, and spiritual level. All, which is triggered by baby smelling mom and mom smelling baby.

Research has demonstrated that the changes to the olfactory bulb and main olfactory system following birth are extremely important and influential for maternal behavior. Mammalian olfactory cues play an important role in the coordination of the mother infant bond, and the following normal development of the offspring. Maternal breast odors are individually distinctive, and provide a basis for recognition of the mother by her offspring”.

Isn’t it amazing this critical piece of bonding could be interrupted by a baby hat?

2. Impaired temperature regulation

It has long been believed that we lose most of our heat from our heads. This myth was debunked in a study which was published in the British Medical Journal in 2008 and by another study in 2006 (Pretorius).

Newborn hats not only are ineffective at temperature regulation, they can actually do more harm than good. Hats on newborns may actually cause an infant’s head to overheat. So, what’s the best way to keep your baby warm? YOU! Research has proven that the best way to keep baby at the perfect temperature is by skin-to-skin contact with mom. But, wait! It get’s even better!

Studies have shown that when a newborn and mother are skin-to-skin, the mother’s body actually changes temperature dependent on what the baby needs! If the baby is too cool, mom’s body will warm up a degree. If the baby is too warm, mom’s body will cool down a degree. In fact, you not only keep your baby’s temperature regulated, you also regulate your baby’s breathing pattern, heart rate, and even blood sugar levels (Ludington-Hoe, 2006). How amazing is that?!

This kind of stuff leaves me in awe. I LOVE learning about the human body and how we were created to sustain life. Our bodies were intelligently designed so intricately, that the smartest scientist in the world can’t even fully comprehend it. I love it! So, now that I have learned about the importance of my baby going hatless, that will definitely be something added onto our birthplan. Of course, when you’re outside or in a very cold environment, feel free to put those cute little baby hats on your little one. Hopefully, what you took away from this information is the vital importance of baby’s first hours in this world and why your bonding time skin-to-skin is so crucial for mom and baby.

For more amazing info please check out the following resources:

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