What Happens If I Don’t Keep My Child Warm?

There has recently been an interesting thread over at the Mothering Dot Community Forums (on the Waldorf sub-forum)  regarding the importance of hats and warmth and what happens if warmth is not maintained.

Here are some articles regarding warmth to start you off:

This one is about dressing the Waldorf Baby:  http://www.christopherushomeschool.org/early-years-nurturing-young-children-at-home/the-waldorf-baby/dressing-the-very-young-child.html

Also this blog post by Donna Simmons regarding the importance of hats:


Here is another article about warmth and health of the young child:


This is one of my personal favorites:  http://www.waldorflibrary.org/Journal_Articles/sjohnsonwarmth.pdf

One point that Susan Johnson, the MD who wrote this article makes, is especially pertinent:

Warmth is probably one of the greatest gifts we can give our children, not only the warmth of love, but the physical warmth of their bodies.  Children are developing their bodies especially during the first seven years of their lives.  An infant or a young child will always feel warm unless they are on the verge of hypothermia because they have an accelerated metabolic rate.  If we don’t provide them with the layers of cotton and wool to insulate their bodies, then they must use some of their potential “growth” energy to heat their bodies.  This same energy would be better utilized in further developing their brain, heart, liver, lungs and other organs.”

Here is a blog post I wrote regarding the 12 senses that points out the place of warmth within the hierarchy of the senses:


I personally think the consequences of not being warm enough comes down to three separate things: one is the fact that then energy is diverted away from development of the inner organs and brain, the second one is that warmth is a gateway to the higher senses of the 12 senses and could possibly be related to the explosion of sensory processing disorders we are seeing in this generation of children, and the third thing is that lack of warmth (both physical AND emotional –always remember that warmth is about emotional warmth as well as the physical warmth) can lead to a literal freezing of creativity and lack of enthusiasm – the highest level of warmth in a human is enthusiasm!  Rahima Baldwin Dancy writes on page 48 of “You Are Your Child’s First Teacher”:  “The sense of warmth is very important throughout early childhood, for warmth is the vehicle through which the will penetrates the body.”

Edmond  Schoorel writes in his book “The First Seven Years:  The Physiology of Childhood” that “In the child, the warmth of the body is warmth of the head.  In the lower pole, we have to look for the warmth of will.  That has to do with an intentional, directed will that brings the child into a true relationship with his or her environment.  It is obvious that infants do not have this yet.  Most of their movements are chaotic and undirected.  During infancy, each directed movement is connected to reflexes, such as aiming for the nipple, sucking, or swallowing.”  Remember, sometimes nothing can calm a baby as a warm hat, warmth is important for good weight gain and for organization of the senses.

Therefore, it is a good idea to keep your child’s head covered throughout the first year and to really watch the layers of clothing a child wears up until age 9 or so.  Wool and silk are preferable coverings; some of my favorite caps for infants and toddlers  can be found here:  http://www.nordicwoollens.com/c188943.2.html

Stay warm this winter and all-year round,


13 thoughts on “What Happens If I Don’t Keep My Child Warm?

  1. Pingback: Week In Review « MamaAcorn

  2. So my mom was right all along. Speaking of…is it just me or do other women find that women of my mother’s generation (she just turned 80) have an innate sense of raising kids. She’s not highly (formally) educated, but so much of what she taught me seems to be what I am learning all over again.

  3. I remember when my son was just a wee little babe, an elderly lady admonished me at a bus stop because he wasn’t wearing a hat (this was in my ‘pre-Waldorf’ days). I was quite put out at the time, but as I learned more and more about child development, I realized that dear elderly lady couldn’t have been more correct. And my son has worn a hat/woolies in spring, fall and winter ever since. I think our grandmothers did know something about these things… and now we’re coming full circle. It just makes sense.

  4. Pingback: WARMTH: Day Number 12 of 20 Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother « The Parenting Passageway

  5. I have a son who just turned 3. When he was first born and only a few weeks old (and frequently throughout his life), he would have fits of crying where nothing I did would calm him until I took him outside in the winter air. He would always kick off his blankets in bed even with the window open. My husband does the same, so I was sandwiched with all the blankets between my husband and son who refused to use them. He frequently takes off his warmer clothes in the cooler months and refuses to wear them. Now, at 3, he does keep his blankets on and wears feety pajamas to bed, so I know he is staying warm then. Are there any signs I should look for from his love of the cold as an infant? Does the fact that his father is a naturally hot person (normal temp 99.5, wears shorts in February, etc.) make a difference?

  6. I was pondering this today and thought “I bet Carrie has something about it!” Granted this is an old post but maybe Carrie will find it, lol.

    I have been sold on keeping children (and us!) warm since Harry, now 13, was little. I worked to keep hats on them and socks or slippers and noticed this year that my daughter (9yrs) who is going through that change, is fighting me about keeping slippers on… she has attracted EVERY bug within 20 miles I swear! Not only does she have it, but then she passes it on to us. So I am sold on the warmth thing… but here’s my question… and maybe it isn’t a question so much as a pondering… we Americans, lol, tend to keep our homes MUCH warmer than many mamas across the ocean. I think this goes to how spoiled we are in many areas (not bad, lol, just spoiled, lol) – is it possible that here in the states, for those of us who insist on keeping a house nice and warm that the need for so much clothing while inside could be less? I mean, I always have something on my feet and usually around my neck, long sleeves, etc. from September through about May, but with the warmth I have kept the house, I notice that I can’t keep the kids with socks/hats inside without a fight. I’ve thought about lowering the temp so they will comply!

    Just rambling thoughts of a mama who has been around the block a few times and is really tired of being sick this year, lol.


    • Melisa – I have HEARD that about the nine-year-change – burning off the inheritance of the parents, I guess, but how not fun!! And I love your observations regarding European homes versus American homes, I have found that to be true myself!
      Hope you all heal and are well soon,
      Carrie 🙂

  7. I live in Indiana. I have an 11 month old who seems prone to ear infections. I’ve read that hats don’t prevent ear infections. I’m trying to discern how crucial it is for my son to wear a hat during the colder months (<50-60 degrees F).
    It's my feeling that a child should always wear a hat if there is the slightest chill. However I'm embroiled in an argument with another caregiver who disagrees. They feel the hats make him sweat & therefore they are unneccesary. They feel that a loose hood is enough to protect him when outside, in the garage, or on a winter walk. Do you have any advice or rule of thumb for how long, until what temperature, or any medical reasons why I should continue to err on the side of caution?
    Please advise.

    • Did you see the other articles regarding warmth? There is one written by an MD, also if you check out http://www.waldorflibrary.org there are articles by Susan Johnson, MD regarding hats and warmth. Also, on the Christopherus website there is an article entitled, “Let’s Hear It For Hats!” that may be helpful.

  8. I just discovered your blog (budding waldorf mom to a 3 month old girl!) And I am interested in hearing your response to Segwyne. I live in south Florida, and my daughter sweats so much when I try to dress her warmly. She gets excited when the freezer is open, learned how to pull socks off her sweaty feet at 3 weeks (?!) And hats result in sweat down her neck. Her father is from Trinidad, and is also frequently hot. As the outdoor temerature is now nearing 80, I no longer feel to bad leaving her in a simple onesie with pants and (if she let’s me) socks.

    Iknow Waldorf originates where it is colder, so, in short, what do you think about Waldorf in tropical climates?

    • Hi Theresa, Thanks for reading my blog, it is nice to have you here in this space. I am here in the South as well, and spend quite a bit of time in the Caribbean, so I understand the whole tropic climate thing…:)

      I think even in hot climates, you can consider cotton caps/sun hats and also the affect of air conditioning and be prepared when transferring from hot outside to cool air-conditioned inside. I see babies where I am all summer who are freezing inside a store because they are dressed for the heat outside. So, of course, you are going to dress for your climate, but please still consider a hat and warmth when inside! Also, at three weeks, socks are easily kicked off in my experience 🙂 So, definitely look at the temperature inside your house as opposed to just outside….
      Does that help at all?
      PS How wonderful to be started on this path so easily. Might I recommend the Early Years subforum of Donna Simmons’ Waldorf At Home Forum? There are many baby threads over there to peak at…

  9. Thank you, you did indeed help! I knit a little cotton cap for my baby that she seems to like well enough, and I plan to make her a little silk one as well.

    I guess now I just worry about the first 3 months… for the first month I kept it quite warm (78 degrees) and we never left except for the doctor. After that I relaxed a little (72 degrees) plus outside walks. I now feel bad about all the energy she spent to keep warm! At least I discovered it now… better than later!

    I will peek over there. Thank you for the tip! I have added you to my blog roll 🙂

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