A friend of mine recently complained that her baby seemed to have circulation problems. Whenever she grabbed her four-month-old’s hands and feet, they were very cold compared to the rest of his body. At first, she dealt with this by bundling her baby up more snugly, but it became very clear that this wasn’t the solution. Her baby’s pediatrician assured her it was normal, but she wasn’t buying it.

Luckily, her little one didn’t seem uncomfortable about his chilly appendages, but she wouldn’t rest until the problem was solved. I decided to look into the circulation problem, and it turns out most babies do have cold hands and feet as the rest of their body develops. This isn’t necessarily a sign that something is wrong.

To find the true temperature of your baby’s body, feel his or her back or neck.
When you think about it, the issue makes a lot of sense. Your baby is developing rapidly in the first few months, and all of his or her organs and tissue must form quickly as the body grows. For that reason, most of the blood flow goes directly into the baby’s internal organs, and only a minimal amount travels out to the appendages. You baby’s body actually prioritizes development, and your baby probably doesn’t mind at all.

To find the true temperature of your baby’s body, feel his or her back or neck. These areas are indicative of your baby’s body temperature. If they are especially hot or cold, you should adjust your baby’s outfit accordingly, or consider adjusting the thermostat. The same goes for feeling your baby’s temperature during an illness. If your baby’s hands and feet are cold, don’t automatically assume that he or she is not running a fever.

So, don’t worry too much if your baby seems to have cold appendages. As long as your doctor hasn’t found any related issues or problems with your baby’s overall development, the chilliness is simply a result of your baby’s body prioritizing development over keeping the appendages toasty. If your baby’s hands and feet don’t seem to get warm as he or she grows older, consider bringing it up to the pediatrician again. If there is a circulation issue that is making your baby uncomfortable, a doctor will be able to recommend a treatment to improve it. Being a new mom can leave you feeling nervous and clueless, so don’t be hestitate to ask your doctor about any worry you might have.

Source: Domenico Arduini et al: The Development from Fetus to Newborn. Neonatology 2012

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