Why your baby's feet are always cold
There's a valid reason, and usually, you shouldn't worry too much about it.
Newborns are adorably curious little things with many quirks that can be quite confusing and sometimes, worrying. Some have baby acne or cradle cap. Others have bald spots, or oddly shaped heads. But one of the more slightly alarming issues mums of newborns face was highlighted in a question sent in by a reader: My babys feet always cold. Is there something wrong with him?
Are your baby’s feet always cold too? This phenomenon is actually more common than you think. Let’s find out why it happens and if (and when) you should be concerned.
Why your baby’s feet feel cold
Babys feet always cold? Do they even sometimes look blue or purple? It most often is due to his circulatory system, i.e., the system that pumps blood around his body. Now if you’re fretting already, stop.
Tiny, cold newborn feet don’t always mean that something is wrong with his circulatory system. Like everything else about your baby’s body and organs, his circulatory system too is immature. After being dependent on you for most things while in the womb, now suddenly, your newborn’s body and organs need to learn how to function alone.
An infant’s circulatory system is still learning how to pump blood around his whole body. Soon after birth, it’s most important job is to send blood to your baby’s vital organs: the lungs, heart, brain, digestive and urinary systems.
Because of this, other less important parts — like baby’s feet or hands — might receive less blood flow. This reduced blood flow could mean that babys feet always cold.
In fact, it could take up to three months for a baby’s circulatory system to mature and efficiently pump blood to all parts of his body, including his little feet.
Is he really too cold? How do I know?
Sure, it’s worrying to touch those icy little feet and think that your baby’s too cold. Concerned parents will then bundle their baby up in hats, blankets, warm onesies and thick socks. But doing this could overheat your baby and do more harm than good.
A handy tip to find out if your baby is actually cold, is to touch his tummy. Does it feel warm? If it does, your little one is just fine. Otherwise if you are still unsure, you could always take his temperature. A normal temperature is around 37 degrees C. If it’s lower than that, then your little one could be feeling a bit chilly.
When it comes to dressing him, in our warm tropical climate, a simple cotton onesie is more than enough. If baby sleeps in an air-conditioned room, then you could opt for a full-bodied cotton onesie that often covers the feet too. Or you could pop a pair of socks on.
“Babys feet always cold”: When to worry
As mentioned previously, the cause of cold feet in infants is almost always due to their under-developed circulatory system.
But there are some instances where cold feet in babies could indicate a more serious problem.
- Meningitis: Cold feet in babies could be a sign of meningitis, which is an infection of the brain. If the cold feet are accompanied by other symptoms like high fever, stiffness in the neck, a bulging fontanelle (the soft spots on the head), vomiting and refusal to eat, then you should show your baby to a doctor without delay.
- Hair tourniquet: If you notice that your baby’s feet are strangely blue or purple, it’s worthwhile checking carefully that he does not have a hair wrapped around one or many of his toes. If this happens, blood circulation can get cut off, turning those tiny digits blue.
- Lips are also cold and blue: If your baby’s feet are very cold to the touch, and you also notice that his lips are bluish in colour, it could indicate that baby is not getting enough oxygen. You should head to the hospital straight away if you notice this.
To the mum who asked the question, “babys feet always cold – why?”, we hope we’ve answered your question!
Also read: Blue baby syndrome: A guide for parents