Infant care Hat or Not to Hat
Article,  New Grad Maternal Child Program

To Hat or Not to Hat

If you have ever worked with newborn infants, they ALWAYS have those little blue and pink stocking caps.  When you see newborn infants on TV or in magazines they always have those stocking caps on.  All of use assumed that keeps the baby warm because heat is lost through the head. We never questioned this practice and “God forbid”, if you don’t have a stocking cap on your newborn in the hospital setting, you were counseled.  You would be a wealthy person if you were the manufacture of those “little blue and pink stocking caps.”  Imagine how many of those caps are sold to the hospital’s maternal-child care departments.

Newborns are born with a unique smell.  It was always pleasurable to smell the head of a newborn. There is a reason for that unique smell.  Babies can recognize Mother by sent alone.  Mothers can recognize their baby by sent as well. The olfactory system stimulates a massive rush of oxytocin.  The oxytocin stimulates a strong bond with the infant and the mother.  This is nature’s gift of a feeling of euphoria after birth for a job well done. Actually, this euphoria is spread throughout the people in the room.  The whole room becomes joyous.

If you place a stocking hat on the baby’s head, the mother then smells fabric. The limbic system (the olfactory stimulation) is interrupted. The snuggling and smelling that occurs with bonding is also interrupted.  So – why are you putting a hat on the baby’s head?

Actually little hats do more harm than good. Studies done (McCall 2010) show that hats do not keep babies warm.  Further studies (Pretorius 2006) hats on baby’s head may actually may cause the baby to overheat.

Mother’s body will naturally keep the baby warm and at the correct temperature.  The mother’s body also regulates the breathing pattern, heart rate and even the blood sugar level.  The magic happens when the newborn is placed on the mother’s chest.  A blanket can go over the baby and mother, but not between the mother and baby with without the hat on the head to protect the precious baby smell.


  • Lori

    I have been a labor and delivery nurse for 25 years and have always felt skin to skin bonding was very important for the mom and the baby. I totally agree with the “trash the hat idea” I am also a proponent of minimizing how much the baby is wiped down and stimulated after birth. It has been my observation that the baby will cry and in most cases stimulate his own breathing mechanism unless in some way compromised by unnatural assistance before, during or after the birthing process. Skin to skin with mom is the best way for all infants to get started in life. I must also add that I understand that there are conditions that sometimes prevent this from happening so my remarks pertain to the full term non compromised infant.

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