Preterm born babies are not able to adapt to temperature change the same way as adults do. Compared to their weight, the surface of a preterm baby’s body is about three times greater than the surface of an adult’s. Additionally, preterm babies and babies with low-birthweight have only little body fat.
When the body temperature of a preterm baby is too low, they need more energy and oxygen to keep their body temperature. Therefore, it is important to help control the baby’s temperature by providing the optimal temperature in the environment, neither too hot nor too cold. The skin of a preterm born baby should always be dry and warm. Immediate drying and warming after delivery or after bathing can be done with warm blankets and skin-to-skin contact with the mother/ father.
Open beds with radiant warmers are often used in the delivery room for rapid warming, for initial treatment, and for ill or late preterm babies who need constant attention and care.
Incubators usually have the form of a closed box with several windows. They provide heated air via a fan device and the possibility to add humidity to the air. The environmental temperature in an incubator can be regulated according to the needs of the child.
Once a baby is stable, open childcare beds can be used. A baby can lose large amounts of heat through the head. Therefore, the nurses or midwives usually cover the head of a baby with a small hat. Parents can ask healthcare professionals for advice on how to dress their baby in the hospital and at home.