How to keep your baby sleeping safely in cold weather

What temperature should your baby's room be and how many layers do they need when the weather turns cold and icy? The Lullaby Trust explain what you need to know

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When temperatures drop, you want your baby to be warm at night and it might be tempting to put lots of layers on your baby and crank the heating up. However, babies can’t regulate their body temperature in the same way adults can, so it’s easy for them to get too hot, which is a risk factor in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

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We spoke to safe sleeping expert Kate Holmes of the baby safety charity The Lullaby Trust, to explain how to keep your baby warm enough but not at risk of overheating.

1. Know what’s a safe temperature for a baby – and use a room thermometer

The ideal room temperature for your baby is 16-20°C. Having a room thermometer in your baby’s nursery is highly advisable so you can keep an eye on this.

Use light bedding or a lightweight, well-fitting baby sleep bag for your little one. This should be comfortable and safe for sleeping babies.

2. Adjust layers according to the room temperature

Room temperatures can vary and so you can add or remove layers to ensure your baby is safely warm enough, following the guidelines below. Please note, this is based on your baby being in a sleepsuit.

  • Room temp 12°C: A sheet and 4 or more blankets
  • Room temp 16°C: A sheet and 3 blankets
  • Room temp 18°C: A sheet and 2 blankets
  • Room temp 20-22°C: A sheet and 1 blanket
  • Room temp 23°C+: A sheet only

If using a sleeping bag…

Baby sleeping bag specialists Grobag have produced this chart to show what to dress your little one in for bedtime (long or short sleeves, all in one suit, top and bottom or just a nappy) depending on what tog Grobag you have them in and the temperature of the room they’re in.

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Pic via Gro Company

3. Check the back of your baby’s neck if you’re worried they might be too hot

If you want to make sure you haven’t got them in too many layers, the back of the neck, or tummy, give clearer indicators of whether your little one’s overheating than their hands or feet do.

Kate explains: “If your baby is too hot their skin will feel slightly clammy and sweaty, and you will need to remove some layers.”

4. Don’t put a hat on your baby indoors

You should never put a hat on a baby indoors, even when it’s cold – because their heads are important for maintaining body temperature and releasing heat. Obviously if you’re taking your baby outside in cold weather then a baby hat is an important way of keeping them warm.

5. Don’t have the heating on high all night

In super cold weather it’s tempting to turn radiators up to full heat and leave them on as you sleep – but this isn’t only expensive, it’s not recommended for your baby.

“The house could get too hot overnight while you’re asleep,” explains Kate. “If you do feel you want the central heating on through the night, set it no higher than 20⁰C.”

6. Even though it’s cold – never put your baby’s cot by the radiator

Never place your crib or cot next to a radiator as this could lead to overheating or possible burns if your baby reaches out of their cot and touches the hot radiator surface.

Also, as radiators are often under windows that may have blind cords, this could present a risk of strangulation.

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