Babies Don’t Shiver

December 22, 2010 at 2:00 am Leave a comment

By Kaye Nemec

When adults are cold, our bodies shiver to engage our muscles and produce more body heat. When babies are cold their bodies do not react in the same way. Instead of shivering, babies warm themselves by burning body fat.

Babies are born with brown thermogenesis fat, also known as brown fat (because of its color). Brown fat is basically a fat-burning type of fat. Scientists used to think brown fat was only found in babies but recent studies suggest it does not actually disappear with age. For adults this could end up being the ultimate diet solution. For a baby it is critical for temperature regulation.

Brown fat is filled with mitochondria. When the body is fueled with food (sugar) the mitochondria help to transform sugar into energy in the form of heat. This heat warms the babies until they are able to shiver like adults.

Does this process warm them? Yes. However, some studies suggest this takes away calories that should be used to help the baby grow.

It is usually recommended that babies are dressed warm and in layers but ask your pediatrician for specific recommendations on ways to keep your baby warm, like what temperature you should keep your house at.

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Sources: Riley Hospital for Children,, Chicago Tribune

Photo: Kaye Nemec

Entry filed under: Health and Beauty. Tags: , , , , .

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