As we wave goodbye to the summer and the cooler weather sets in, it can be confusing trying to determine the correct temperature for your baby. If you’re a new mother, you may not be confident about trusting your gut instinct on this one so here’s a short guide to help you ensure your baby is able to snuggle down and stay warm.
In the early days
The World Health Organisation recommends a draft-free room temperature of 77°F (25°C) to provide optimal thermal conditions for most healthy, clothed and full-term babies. However, in the United States specifically, several experts recommend keeping the baby’s room between 68–72°F (20–22.2°C). Generally speaking, the room should be neither too hot or too cold. If as a lightly-clothed adult you feel too warm in the room, it’s more than likely your baby will be too.
Babies who weigh less than average at birth (about 7 pounds (3.17 kg)) will have greater surface area on their skin and therefore will lose heat quicker than a larger baby. The thermal needs of these newborns will vary according to weight so it is best to seek advice from your healthcare team when adjusting temperatures for your little one.
What’s in the bed?
The American Academy of Pediatrics have stated that infants should sleep in the same room as, but not in the same bed as parents for the first six months. This means sleeping your baby in a crib, cot or bassinet and not on soft surfaces or with other people that can unwittingly raise their body temperature. Parents are bombarded with images of cute babies sleeping in cots surrounded with cushions and soft cuddly toys and even using duvets but this is not the correct way to put your little one to sleep. All soft bedding and accessories should be kept out of the way to help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
It’s tempting to cover up babies with beautiful baby blankets but nowadays experts recommend baby sacks (without hoods). These are lightweight and come in a range of sizes and weights to suit your child and season. For example, a low tog one for summer (0.5 tog or 1 tog) and a 2.5 tog or 3.5 tog for colder weather. An alternative option is swaddling your baby in a special swaddle cloth or a light blanket which is believed to resemble to mother’s womb. Again, be mindful of the fabric you choose to prevent your baby becoming too hot.
Babies lose a lot of heat through their heads, so make sure their heads can’t be covered by any sort of loose sheet or fabric while they’re asleep.
Make sure you remove hats and extra clothing as soon as you come indoors after a trip even if it means waking up the baby.
If you are unsure if your baby is too warm, some signs of over-heating include:
- Damp hair
- Flushed cheeks
- Panting or fast breathing
- Heat rash
- Restless sleep
Positioning your baby
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to sleep their babies on their backs with their feet at the bottom of the crib as their findings suggest it is the safest position for the first year of life. It is believed to be especially important for the first six months of life when the risk of SIDS is greatest.
Make sure the baby is positioned away from radiators or heaters and out of direct sunlight.
In hot weather, keep your baby cool by closing the blinds or curtains and opening windows where they are sleeping. Strip the baby down to a diaper or just a vest if necessary. If you are using a fan, make sure it is not directly facing the child, instead ensuring that it is cooling the room.