Cold Hands and Feet in Babies – Is It Normal?

5 min read

Cold Hands and Feet in Babies

Being a parent for the first time is a completely new experience. It will be challenging too, as every little change in the baby will raise a common concern- is it normal? And so, when you notice that the little one has very cold hands and feet, you may start worrying.

Should you add some more layers? Isn’t it normal for the baby to have a higher temperature than the adults? Is your baby showing symptoms of some underlying issues? Read this post to know everything about such conditions. Sometimes cold hands and feet in babies can be due to several reasons.

In This Article

Cold Hands and Feet in Babies – Is it Normal?

There is a simple explanation for the cold hands and feet of the baby. When the child is born, the circulatory system is still in the developmental phase. So, blood will reach the vital organs first, like the lungs and the heart, where the requirement is highest.

  • Newborns, especially under the age of three months, can have chilly fingers and toes. The temperature at these parts will be lower than the rest of the body.
  • Blood reaches last at the distal ends of the body.

Causes of Cold Hands and Feet in Babies

baby sleeping with mitten

Although there are simple reasons for the cold hands in the babies, it can be a symptom of underlying medical problems too. So, it is time to look into all the factors causing the cold hands and feet:

1. Immature Thermoregulation

Newborns do not immediately have the ability to maintain the body’s core temperature without external thermal protection. As the little ones have a high body surface area in comparison to the weight ratio, the newborns tend to lose heat through evaporation. That is why it is a good idea to cover the baby’s legs, head, and hands with an additional layer to prevent heat loss through evaporation after birth.

[Read : Protecting Your Baby From Urinary Tract Infections]

2. Sepsis

It is the way the baby’s body responds to an infection. Diagnosing sepsis at an early stage is crucial to prevent more serious consequences. An infection is the preceding stage of sepsis. So pediatricians prefer monitoring the baby closely if the child has an infection in the urinary tract, bone, skin, and pneumonia.

Other characteristic features of sepsis include:

  • Fast heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Pale skin
  • Rapid breathing
  • Low fever
  • No urination for more than twelve hours

If you notice any of the above symptoms in your child, you should seek immediate medical assistance. Leaving the sepsis without any treatment can add to the complications.

3. Blood Circulation

The underdeveloped blood circulatory system is unable to carry the oxygen effectively to the legs and hands. The lack of oxygen can be the reason for the cold hands n the babies. It can also manifest through the bluish discoloration of the skin. Such a condition is called acrocyanosis. It can also affect other parts like nipples, lips, ears, and nose.

Low body mass and cold climate are the primary factors that increase the chance of developing acrocyanosis in the baby. Once the body’s circulatory system becomes fully functional, the symptoms will subside.

4. Activity Level

Any healthy baby will be sleeping or lying around most of the time, it is completely normal, but it can also be the cause of cold hands and feet. The normal lack of activities in the babies will always lower the blood flow to the limbs.

The continuous feeding and digesting cycle will direct the blood flow more to the busy intestine and stomach instead of the hands and feet. Once the child starts spending more waking hours and gets active with playing around, the hands and feet will warm up.

5. Fever

Body temperature above 100.40 F or 380 C can cause cold hands and feet. This will happen as the immune system, and the blood circulatory system will be busy fighting the germ elsewhere in the body. So, it will pull out the heat from the distal ends of the hands and feet.

Fever can also lead to chills as the body of your child tries to balance the spiking fever. As these are signs indicating that the baby is unwell, it is better to call a doctor as soon as possible, especially if you notice symptoms like:

  • Yellowish skin and eyes
  • Flushed red face
  • Less urination
  • No interest in having food
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Too much sleepiness and inactivity
  • Constantly crying and showing irritation
[Read : 11 Effective Foods For Babies During Fever (6-12 Months)]

6. Other Causes of Cold Hands and Feet in Babies

Bluish lips, cold hands, and blue blotches on the body are definitely from poor blood circulation. And it also implies that the entire body is not getting enough oxygen. Some conditions can be harmful like:

  • Cardiac problems
  • Breathing problems due to issues in the lungs
  • Infections
  • Circulatory problems

It is better to consult the doctor as early as possible if you notice blue blotches or blue lips.

Cold Hands and Feet in Babies – How Can You Help?

Kangaroo Care babies

Getting nervous is normal when you notice the cold hands and feet of the baby. But you should do your part to make the child comfortable.

1. Add Layers

If the hands and feet of the baby are cold, but the stomach and torso areas are warm and appear pinkish, the baby is fine. But if the middle, neck, and back also feel chilly, you should add some more layers along with mittens and socks to retain the body heat. Keep on checking the temperature of the stomach and neck repeatedly every 20 minutes.

[Read : Safe Dressing Tips For Newborns]

2. Kangaroo Care

Snuggling the baby close against your chest is a quick way to warm up the little one using your own body’s heat. You can remove all the clothes of the bay, excluding one layer and the diaper. Now slide the newborn against your skin and cover up with a blanket. But be careful about keeping it off the face. Kangaroo snuggle is an effective means to warm up the child.

When Should You Go to a Doctor?

If your baby has a high temperature and shows irritation, you should immediately take the child to the doctor. Inactivity, reluctance to feeding and continuous crying are some of the symptoms that indicate you should take the child to the doctor.

There is nothing to worry about if the hands and feet are cold without any other symptoms. But after reading the above article, you will understand when the visit to the pediatrician is mandatory. If you act quickly, the baby will suffer less, and the treatment plan will be more effective.


1. What Deficiency Causes Cold Hands and Feet?

Sometimes, the deficiency of Vitamin B 12 can be the cause of cold hands and feet in the little one.

2. Do Cold Hands Mean the Baby is Cold?

No. You need to see the temperature of the stomach and other parts of the body. A partially developed circulatory system can cause cold hands.

3. What are Cold Hands and Feet a Symptom of?

Most commonly, cold hands and feet are symptoms of fever. However, it can be due to the developing circulatory system in babies below 3 months. You should learn about the additional signals to know when to consult the doctor and take necessary action.

Read Also: Caring For Your Baby’s Feet

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