Take It All Off: Why You Should Ditch the Hat and Mitts After Birth

Hats off! Mittens off!


The only thing that should be between mom and baby is the loving magical touch of their skin. The newborn hat is something that has become quite common in delivery rooms and it is certainly something that parents often keep tucked safely away as a keepsake. I know that I have both of the hats that the nurses placed on my daughter’s heads. However, they were quick to go, leaving their bare beautiful heads positioned right under my chin where I could breathe in their intoxicating fumes. Later on, newborns are often seen with those cute little mitts covering their hands, but those too, got to go! Take it all off your babes mamas!

When a new baby comes into the world, it is our instinct to want to swaddle them up to make sure they are warm and cozy! Placing a hat on their little heads that are often still a bit damp, seems like it is the right thing to do, however, it can cause more harm than good. I know I mentioned the powerful smells that my daughters had (and still do – although I am not quite sure how to identify the smell that my now 10-year-old comes home with anymore!). If we cover up a newborn’s head after delivery then it will make this important bonding moment that much harder, as well as hinder other very important safety measures for you and baby. The sweet aroma of a newborn baby has a biological function within the Olfactory system that plays into it, it is not just something moms everywhere talk about. The Olfactory system is our sense of smell which for a newborn and its mother, is an essential part of communication with each other.

“Olfactory recognition may be implicated in the early stages of the mother-infant attachment process, when the newborns learn to recognize their own mother’s unique odor signature: this process is possibly made easier by the high norepinephrine release and the arousal of the locus coeruleus at birth. Human infants are responsive to maternal odors beginning shortly after birth.” – Stefano Vagelio 

The mother’s Olfactory systems expects certain signals after birth to cue oxytocin and to send that “love hormone” in a massive rush through the mother’s body. Oxytocin is like nature’s built in safety and reward system! Oxytocin is very important for not only bonding with your new bundle of joy, but it plays a big part in helping your body to slow down the postpartum bleeding and help the uterus to contract back to its pre-pregnancy size. As your baby attaches to the breast, oxytocin continues to flow and the beauty and love between mother and baby develops. So ditch the hats ladies and don’t worry about your baby being cold. When placed on your bare chest, with a blanket lightly on top, your body temperature will keep the baby’s body at a perfect temp, along with regulating the baby’s breathing, heart rate and even blood sugar levels.

So what is up with those mitts? You might have received an abundant amount of those little hand mitts at your baby shower as gifts or matches to the outfits they came with. While they are certainly cute, are they necessary? The answer is no! You might be afraid the baby will scratch themselves, I know mine did a few times, so why take them off?

Babies need their hands to navigate and feel their big new world around them! When they are born, they innately have a need to crawl up their mama’s stomach and find the breast. This means it is very important NOT to wipe their hands off after birth or cover them up, this way they can smell the amniotic fluid on their hands which is the same smell that a mother’s breasts will give off. This is how they find their food!  Isn’t that amazing?  They also need freedom to use their hands for soothing or to signal that they need to feed.

So, moms who are reading, ditch the hats and mitts and let your baby navigate their world freely and how nature intends. You will reap the benefits and quickly see how these well intended items will only hinder the natural process between you and your baby.

Lindsay Gibson
Beautiful Births & Beyond, Editor