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? We asked an expert from The Lullaby Trust to explain what you need to know

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When temperatures drop, you want your baby to be warm at night . It might be tempting to cover them in lots of layers and crank the heating up but it’s important to remember that 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.

Here are her 6 expert cold-weather safe sleeping tips:

1. Know what’s a safe temperature your baby’s room

The ideal room temperature for your baby is 16°C to 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 and add layers as needed (see below).

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.

  • If your baby is wearing a sleepsuit to sleep in, then this is how many layers of blankets they’ll need…
number of blankets for baby in cold weather
  • If your baby is sleeping in a baby sleeping bag, then this is how many layers of blankets they’ll need…

What you dress your baby in for bedtime (long or short sleeves, all in one suit, top and bottom or just a nappy) depends both on what tog sleeping bag you’re putting them in and the temperature of the room they’re in. Here’s your guide:

chart for how many layers for baby in sleeping bag in cold weather
chart for how many layers for baby in sleeping bag in cold weather

3. Check the back of your baby’s neck

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 a bare head is 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, moving your baby’s cot closer to an under-the-window radiator could present a risk of strangulation.

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About our expert Kate Holmes and the Lullaby Trust

Kate Holmes is Head of Support and Information at the Lullaby Trust, the charity that’s trying to reduce the number of SIDS deaths, offering parents and carers advice on safe sleep (you can call free on 0808 802 6869) and supporting research in sudden deaths of babies and young children. The Lullaby Trust also supports bereaved families whose baby has died suddenly and unexpectedly (you can call them free on 0808 802 6868).

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