via InfantCPR

via InfantCPR

 

It seems that every home has a drafty room that requires constant attention to keep the temperature regulated. When this is a new baby’s room, some negative side effects can result in a lack of attention to detail. The real issue isn’t just the fact that the room can be difficult to regulate, but that your baby is not as good at regulating their body temperature as you are yet. So when a room gets cold, the baby can’t warm themselves up as easily as you can. The negatives are plentiful, but knowledge will ensure that you know what to watch out for and create a plan to keep your child warm during the colder parts of the year.

The real dangers of a cold baby room are all easily rectified through the use of some simple clothing or items that can be placed in the room. We will discuss humidifiers and layered clothing throughout this article, but also make sure you have the knowledge in how these items can be dangerous as well. This is not a list to scare you, but to inform you. If you know how your baby works, you are more prepared to deal with a difficult room and ensure that your baby is comfortable.

via BabyCenter

via BabyCenter

Some of the things on this list may be common knowledge, but the “why” will be explained in more detail here. Your baby likely can’t communicate to you in a way you wish they could. When they cry or rub their eyes, they are trying to tell you something. By going in with an idea of what to watch for, you will be more prepared to read those signs and know what your little one is trying to tell you. With this knowledge you can take action to rectify the situation.

As this is not an article that is meant to be used as medical advice, please do not hesitate to reach out to your child’s pediatrician if you are ever concerned about their well being. As a parent myself, I can tell you that I had my child’s pediatricians number programmed on my phone, written on a sticky note on their changing table, posted to the refrigerator and programmed on my home phone. You will want to partner with them throughout your child’s growth and get detailed answers to any questions that make you lose sleep at night. Use this list as a way to put yourself at ease and better understand what your baby is currently going through, but don’t use this list as a doctor or medical advice. Use it as a way to learn a bit more and have more insightful questions for your pediatrician when you speak with them.

20. Nasal Congestion

via HealCure

via HealCure

Our noses are pretty remarkable parts of our body. While we take them for granted as a way to breath and call them “plain” they actually do a great deal of work to keep us healthy. As we breathe in air our nose warms it up to help it reach our lungs at the right temperature. When the air is too cold, our nose will prevent the air from getting to our lungs by immediately bringing the air up to 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. This change happens faster than you would think – it takes about a quarter of a second – and uses tiny blood vessels to ensure the process runs smoothly.

When there is too much cold air entering the passages of your nose, the blood vessels can swell and create nasal congestion. This leads to a thickening of the mucus which can make it very difficult to breathe. This, in turn leads to breathing through the mouth which gives no warming effect on the air and can increase the amount of histamine that is released. Histamine release can lead to wheezing and other respiratory problems.

19. Catching Infections

via Brasil.gov

via Brasil.gov

While there is no science that says that you will catch a cold from being out in cold or wet weather, but there is some science behind the idea that you catch a cold or the flu more often in cold climates. This is because the viruses can stay alive longer in the air, especially in low humidity areas. Since a baby’s immune system is not yet fully developed and their nose is generally dry this leads to a higher chance of infection. This is somewhat held off by baby immunizations and breastfeeding, but anyone in the household with the virus will have a higher chance of passing it on.

18. Nosebleeds

via HuffPost

via HuffPost

As a parent, I can attest to how troubling nosebleeds can be in a baby and young child. The cold can reduce the humidity in the air which makes a baby’s nasal passage very dry. The small capillaries that line the nose are more likely to break, especially since youngsters are likely to stick their fingers (and whatever else they can find) up their nose.

Fortunately, there are a few fixes for nosebleeds. The best option is a humidifier constantly running where the baby will sleep and any place they spend a great amount of time. Consider petrolatum jelly just inside of the nose to help them breathe and keep the passage moist. If a bleed occurs, there is generally no reason to worry. Simply pinch the bottom of the nose for 10 minutes while you absorb the blood with a tissue or soft cloth. If the bleed continues for more than 10 minutes it may be worth going to the hospital. As a parent, if you ever feel the bleeds are of a concern, call your doctor for advice.

17. Dry Skin

via Photobucket

via Photobucket

The cold can take the moisture out of the air and cause your baby’s delicate skin to become very dry. A humidifier is a great way to prevent this. While there is little health concern for your baby’s future well-being due to the dry skin, it can be extremely uncomfortable for the child and for the parent. Because of the irritation the dry skin can cause, the baby will become irritable and cranky. If you’ve ever been around an upset baby for more than a few minutes, you already know that this can have a negative effect on your patients and sanity as well. Consider using a moisturizer or baby oil on the skin daily if it becomes a problem.

16. Fluctuations in Temperature

via Washington Post

via Washington Post

If the baby spends time in a cold room, then moves to a warmer room and back, issues can arise due to the baby’s lack of body temperature regulation. These fluctuations can lead to many of the issues found on this list and should be avoided as much as possible. It isn’t simple to keep a home at a constant temperature and taking the baby outside can only make matters worse. Make sure the baby is wearing layers and always remember that just because the temperature feels right to you, it is likely much less comfortable for the baby.

15. Overcompensation

via YouTube

via YouTube

Many parents will try to bundle up their baby too much to overcompensate for the coldness of a room. While this may seem to be the right move, it can actually lead to a number of other issues. Sweating can lead to dehydration or hypothermia and the fluctuation in temperatures has already been discussed. You will know if the baby is too warm as symptoms start to become apparent. The symptoms include vomiting, fatigue, heat rash and muscle cramps. While it seems wise to keep the baby bundled up in a cold room, it is better to spend the money to raise the temperature of the entire home and the baby’s room to keep them in more comfortable clothing. Remember, their body is still learning to regulate temperature.

14. Irritability

via SpectrumHealth

via SpectrumHealth

There are few things more frustrating than an upset baby. While you do everything you can to try to calm them, their inability to tell you exactly what is wrong can be heartbreaking. This is common in a cold room as a baby can get a headache, runny nose and a myriad of other minor issues. All of this leads up to a cranky baby. Watch for signs such as the baby rubbing their eyes (when they aren’t tired) nose and ears. This likely means that their head does not feel like it usually does indicating a headache. There isn’t much you can do outside of warming up the room and comforting your child until the pain goes away.

13. Long Term Illnesses

via YouTube

via YouTube

Long term respiratory issues can become common in the winter or summer. The winter cold can cause heaters to run constantly and if they are not maintained, the air is of a poor quality. The same is true for air conditioners in the summer. That poor air quality can have long-lasting effects on a child’s respiratory system. If they catch a cold often, or you see more stress in their breathing, have your air conditioner checked and cleaned. This will eliminate it as a possible issue as to why the child is constantly suffering. If it continues after a solid cleaning, see your doctor for advice and a checkup. The most common issue that arises is that a child could develop sinusitis or asthma.

12. Mold in the Humidifier

via Modern Mom Life

via Modern Mom Life

While we have discussed using a humidifier at length throughout this article, it is also extremely important to understand how a humidifier works. By warming water and turning it into a vapor can help the baby breath better the humidifier becomes a warm, wet place for mold and mildew to develop. That mold and mildew are then spread through the air which can lead to a number of issues. Long term respiratory issues are possible due to the lack of cleaning in addition to itching, sneezing, nasal congestion and runny noses.

Your humidifier should come with cleaning instructions, so make sure you follow those to the letter. If you ever feel that the humidifier is showing signs of a buildup of any sort, trash it and buy a new one. Mold also needs to be watched carefully in the moist areas of your home, such as the kitchen and bathroom. The spores can become airborne and are much more harmful to your baby’s reduced immune system than to your own.

11. Dry Eye Syndrome

via Mira

via Mira

While dry eye syndrome is not a dangerous syndrome, it is a very uncomfortable one. The cold air can cause the oily part of the eye to give less lubrication. This makes it harder to blink and create tears and can lead to inflammation and infection. Most of the time, eye drops will be used to create artificial tears and should only be done by a doctor. You will know when dry eye is a problem as the symptoms are redness, itching, blurred vision and burning sensations. Your baby may not be able to explain those issues, but their actions will likely show them. Also, keep the child away from any screens while they are overcoming the issue as they tend to cause the viewer to blink even less.

10. Frostbite

via Wikimedia

via Wikimedia

Frostbite is only on this list because of the seriousness of it. It is extremely rare in a cold room, but if your baby moves from outside and comes into a cold room, they will not have a chance to warm up. The tip of their nose, fingertips, toes, cheeks, and ears are common places to watch. The issues generally lead to damage skin and nerves. If you need to warm your child up quickly, do so with warm water. Dry heat can cause burns and should be avoided. This is not a common issue, so you will likely never face it, but it deserves to be noted just in case.

9. Sleep Issues

via HuffPost

via HuffPost

If a room is too cold for a baby, they will have significant trouble sleeping through the night. This can lead to a very cranky baby and reduce their chances of fighting off infections. Sleep helps your baby recharge which is key to their development. They use a significant amount of energy, even if it seems that they aren’t doing much each day. The lack of energy that comes from less sleep can stunt their growth and slow their development.

8. More Dirty Diapers

 

via MedicalNewsToday

via MedicalNewsToday

While it may not be true for every child, most parents can attest to the cold leading to their child urinating more frequently. While that isn’t a problem, outside of the expense of more diapers, for parents, the cold urine can lead to many of the issues on this list as it will drop their body temperature. At first, they will get a little kick of warmth, that quickly becomes uncomfortably cold. This can cycle into less sleep, which then leads to lower immunity and more colds.

7. Lack of Appetite

via LifeHacker

via LifeHacker

As your baby uses their energy to stay warm and regulate their body temperature, they are going to tire much more often. They will likely turn to sleep instead of sustenance. This lack of appetite can create a terrible cycle as they lose more energy due to the lack of food they are consuming. Cold rooms can turn a child’s survival instincts on which will make it much harder for them to find the time to eat or have a desire to do so.

6. Increase in Parent’s Stress Levels

via Good Houskeeping

via Good Houskeeping

While this does not have an immediate effect on the baby, a cold room can lead to a significant increase in a parent’s stress levels. As you try to find the right temperature for the baby you are constantly going in and looking for any sign of something being wrong, while also trying to figure out if it is too warm or too cold for your child. This takes away from the time you could be doing work around the house, or sleeping, or relaxing to recover from the stress of raising a baby. It is key that new parents sleep when they can and when they are more worried about keeping that cold room the right temperature they lose sleep and increase stress. That increase in stress can lead to less mental acuity which can ultimately lead to frustrations that can be taken out on each other or on the child – which is likely out of character for you as the parent.

5. Rhinorrhea

via Paul Wager Photography

via Paul Wager Photography

As we have discussed, cold air causes a swelling in the nasal passages due to an increase in the mucus membranes output. This leads to difficulty in breathing through the nose. Once your baby starts breathing through their mouth, they are more likely to become infected by various bugs. In addition, Rhinorrhea will lead to painful sinuses, headache, ear infection, sore throat, cough and sinusitis. You will rarely need to treat the excess mucus as it will clear up in time, but for babies that can’t yet blow their nose, you may need to visit a doctor to speed up the process or use an aspirator. Just make sure you work with your doctor before doing anything to ensure you do not make an uncomfortable situation worse.

4. SIDS

via NBCNews

via NBCNews

I personally hate talking about sudden infant death syndrome. It was constant fear when my own child was younger. No matter what you do, you can’t take every precaution to prevent it as the syndrome is not well understood yet. A recent study in the Journal of Pediatrics links that both overheating and too much cold can be linked to SIDS. The best way to check a temperature is to feel the baby’s midsection and back. This will give a good indication of how comfortable they are. If they are too cold, hold them close and use skin to skin contact to help warm the baby back up.

3. Croup or Whooping Cough

via MedScape

via MedScape

It seems that whooping cough has become a bigger issue over the years, or at least more understood. It is nothing more than an inflammation of a baby’s vocal cords. It is most common for children from 6 months to around 4 years of age, is viral, and contagious. The symptoms start with a cold and eventually turn into whooping cough or croup. While it is not life threatening most of the time, it is extremely dangerous for the child. A humidifier will be key to easing the pain the child is experiencing as they try to swallow. You will also notice laborious breathing, listlessness, and a hoarse voice. A cough usually lasts about a week, but if it goes longer, a trip to the doctor is in order.

2. Hypothermia

via The Diary of Babies

via The Diary of Babies

We all know how dangerous hypothermia can be to adults. For a child, it can be even more common and dangerous. The part of the brain that regulates the temperature of the baby’s body is not fully developed until they are around 4 years old. Symptoms can vary in severity and include pale skin, constant shivering, fast or shallow breathing, low energy or a change in behavior. If these signs show up immediately wrap the baby completely in warm clothes and blankets and move them to a warmer area. Use your own body heat to help the baby warm up as well and if they start to lose consciousness, immediately call emergency services. The temperature that starts this whole cycle can begin at 89.6 degrees.

1. Pneumonia

via Healthy Happy Sleep

via Healthy Happy Sleep

Pneumonia is a bacteria or virus which spreads faster in low temperatures. Respiratory syncytial virus, flu, and Rhinovirus are not treatable by antibiotics, making pneumonia a dangerous issue for children under the age of 5. Worldwide the disease is the leading cause of death for those under 5 years of age and rated as the 8th leading cause in the United States.

The danger from pneumonia comes from the white blood cells fighting the infections which fill the air sacs in the lungs with mucus and fluid. Watch for fever and cough to develop from a bad cold and white, yellow or green mucus. Below the age of 2, children can be vaccinated against pneumonia, and as you can see from the dangers of the disease, this should be a no-brainer.

 

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