Having a newborn baby is one of the most exciting times for new parents. However, it can also be overwhelming as you learn how to care for your little one. One common question that comes up is whether newborns should wear hats in the hospital. There are a few important reasons why hospitals encourage newborn hats.
Benefits of Newborn Hats
Regulate Body Temperature
Newborns are unable to regulate their body temperature effectively. Their little bodies lose heat rapidly, especially through their head. Wearing a hat helps retain warmth and prevent heat loss. Hospital rooms are kept at a comfortable temperature for adults, which can feel cool for a newborn. A hat helps keep baby warm and cozy.
Protect Soft Spots on Head
A newborn’s skull bones have not fully fused together. There are soft spots, known as fontanels, where the skull has not hardened. These fontanels allow the skull to flex during delivery. However, they also leave a newborn vulnerable to injury. Wearing a fitted hat cushions and protects their delicate head.
Promote Head Shaping
Many newborns have a molded or cone-shaped head immediately after birth. This is from pressure on the skull during the birthing process. A snug hat worn in the first days and weeks helps gently round out the head into a proper shape.
Security and Bonding
The hat provides a sense of comfort, security and belonging for the newborn. It also helps parents bond with their baby during skin-to-skin contact by keeping the head warm. The hat can represent the parent’s commitment to nurture and protect their child.
Hospital Policies on Newborn Hats
Most hospitals strongly recommend or require that newborns wear a hat during the hospital stay. The policies exist to promote the health and safety of the fragile newborn.
Nurseries maintain a supply of newborn hats in basic colors and patterns. However, many parents prefer to bring a hat from home that they find cute or meaningful. As long as the hat is safe, hospitals allow families to use their own hats.
Safety Considerations With Newborn Hats
While hats are important, it is also vital that any hat used follows safety guidelines to avoid any risk:
- Proper fit – The hat should fit snugly without constricting. It should not slide down over the eyes or ears.
- No ties or fasteners – Strings, ties or fasteners could come loose and become choking hazards. Newborn hats should have elastic or be made of stretch fabric.
- No hoods – Hoods are too loose and can risk suffocation. Only use hats without hoods.
- Thin material – Choose lightweight, breathable fabrics like cotton. Avoid thick, fuzzy or fleece hats that could overheat baby.
- Avoid head coverings – Do not use headbands, scarves or other head coverings. Only use an actual fitted newborn hat.
- Monitor frequently – Check baby’s head often to ensure the hat does not slide down and obstruct breathing.
As long as safety guidelines are followed, parents can choose cute newborn hats they love. Common safe newborn hat options include basic knit hats, adjustable cotton hats, and hospital-provided hats. Go with your personal preferences while keeping safety as the top priority.
When to Remove the Hospital Hat
Newborns will be encouraged to wear a hat during their entire hospital stay for warmth and protection. However, once home parents will need to determine when baby should go hat-free.
There are no hard guidelines on when to ditch the hat at home. Factors to consider include the temperature of the house, baby’s head shape, and activity level.
If the home is drafty or cool, keep the hat on. But if your thermostat is set to a comfortably warm temperature for baby, the hat is not necessary for indoor wear. Pay attention to whether baby seems chilled without a hat.
The early days and weeks are when a hat is most beneficial for shaping baby’s head. After several weeks once the head seems properly rounded, hats are no longer required.
Level of Activity
When a newborn is sleeping, feeding, or inactive a hat helps retain warmth. But when awake and active, baby may get too warm with a hat. Adjust hat use based on the situation.
Within the first month or two, parents will get a feel for when their newborn really needs a hat versus when it can be removed. If in doubt, putting a hat on never hurts. But also watch for signs of overheating. Finding the right balance takes some trial and error.
Tips for Introducing Hats
Follow these tips for smoothly incorporating hats into your newborn’s routine:
- Put a hat on any time baby’s head may get chilly like for outdoor wear, stroller rides, or in overly air conditioned rooms.
- Use thin cotton hats for warmth so baby does not get sweaty.
- Choose hats with open tops rather than closed caps if overheating is an issue.
- Try hats during tummy time to cushion the head.
- Place hats over the ears on car rides to dull noise and vibration.
- Pick hats with cute animal faces or designs to stimulate baby’s developing eyesight.
- Introduce hats slowly if baby seems to resist or dislike wearing them.
- Avoid keeping a hat on a sleeping baby to prevent it sliding down over the face.
- Check for signs of irritation like red marks from an overly tight hat.
With some patience, parents can find the right hats their newborn will tolerate and benefit from wearing.
Frequently Asked Questions
When can baby go without a hat at home?
There is no set timeline. Monitor the temperature, head shape, and baby’s cues. Most newborns adjust to going hat-free around 1-2 months old.
Do hospitals provide hats or should I bring my own?
Most hospitals provide basic hats, but parents can bring their own as long as it is safe. Make sure it fits properly and has no ties or flaps.
How often should I wash my newborn’s hats?
Hats worn next to delicate newborn skin get dirty quickly. Wash any hats at least every 2-3 wears, or immediately if soiled. Use a mild detergent and rinse thoroughly.
Can I put a headband or bow on my newborn instead of a hat?
No, headbands and hair accessories are unsafe. They can shift and obstruct breathing. Only use fitted newborn hats on infants.
Should my baby wear a hat outside in warm weather?
If baby is in direct sun, a lightweight cotton hat provides shade and UV protection. But remove the hat if baby seems too warm.
Newborn hats play an important role in keeping baby comfortable, safe and healthy. While in the hospital, infants are required to wear snug fitting hats at all times. Be sure any personal hat brought from home meets the hospital’s safety guidelines.
Once home, parents can adjust hat use based on the temperature, head shape, activity level and other factors. Hats are just one part of the essential gear that help parents care for their precious new arrival!