It’s National Hat Day and although we appreciate the value of a a great hat, there’s a time and a place.
It has become customary to put a little knit cap on your baby’s brand new noggin to keep them nice and toasty just after birth. Although it sounds like a great plan to keep your baby warm, it can actually disrupt valuable bonding and hormone production, and may result in an overheated baby!
We all love that sweet baby smell.. Johnsons and Johnsons tried to bottle it.. there’s a reason why we love to smell babies, especially our own!
Skin to skin contact has some incredible benefits immediately after birth and as your baby is getting introduced to their new environment. This contact benefits the mother as much as baby, and begins the bonding process that will be important during their breastfeeding journey. Skin to skin improves a baby’s respiration, regulates their body temperature and reduces stress and anxiety. The first hour after birth is important for the infant as it’s their first opportunity to become acquainted with their parents, allowing them to become more emotionally stable and confident as they age.
When your are skin to skin with your baby and able to smell your baby, your body releases Oxytocin, the hormone that rules labor and is known as the LOVE hormone. Smelling your babys head releases oxytocin, which helps your uterus contract, helps expel your placenta and minimize bleeding. Oxytocin also helps you fall in love with your baby.
So why do they put a hat on your baby?
The head and face are important for a newborn’s natural instincts to acquaint with the mother’s scent, warmth and heartbeat. Newborns will nuzzle into their mother’s chest and and begin searching for their mother’s breast. Oxytocin is a powerful hormone released in the mother when her baby’s scent is nearby, that triggers the final stages of labor and increases milk production. This is one of the many beautifully simple ways that nature has perfected the childbirth process, and that cute tiny hat is getting in the way!
When mom is available, she can regulate her baby’s temperature with her OWN BODY and no hat is needed. Yes.. that’s right.. when baby is skin to skin with mom, mothers temp will increase or decrease to heat or cool her baby! Pretty incredible!
So when should you choose a hat?
If your baby is born premature, underweight or has certain medical complication, a hat may be a good idea. In some of these situations, the mother or baby is not well enough to utilize skin to skin contact. When skin to skin contact isn’t possible, hats, swaddling and warmers might be the only way to regulate your newborn’s temperature. If baby is able to be held, but mom isn’t available, Dad or another family member or friend can hold baby skin to skin.
This period after birth is unique and shouldn’t be interrupted by anything, including a tiny hat.
Some birth professionals say that babies remember birth. This period of bonding is unique in that it is the first impression your baby has of this great big new world. These impressions are theoretically associated with the way adults perceive the world, so we should make it count!