Sweltering nights and sweaty blankets are no fun for little babies trying to get to sleep. While you can get up, strip off and reposition a fan to cool down, your baby can’t manage her temperature so easily.
What’s the safe temperature for your baby’s room
A room temperature of between 16-20ºC (60.8-68ºF) is recommended – 18ºC (65ºF) is just right.
How many layers does your baby need when sleeping?
“Whatever the weather, the rule is the same,” says midwife, Anne Richley, “put your baby to sleep on her back and be careful not to let her become overheated.
“If you’re feeling hot, then your baby will be, too. Sleep in whatever you’re comfortable, and add one extra layer for your baby. If you don’t need any covers, your little one probably only needs one. If you’re sleeping naked, then a sleepsuit and no blankets for your baby will be just fine. In very hot conditions, your baby may not even need this.”
Use a room thermometer to check the temperature, and see our guide below for the right amount of bedding to use.
* 12°C: A sheet and four or more blankets
* 16°C: A sheet and three blankets
* 18°C: A sheet and two blankets
* 20-22°C: A sheet and one blanket
* 23°C-plus: A sheet only
You can also check out check out the The Lullaby Trust’s (formerly known as the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths – FSID) guidelines for sleeping safely and expert safe sleeping advice.
Why do some babies get so sweaty – and is it safe?
Sweating is natural and is a way for our bodies to cool us down. [Interesting fact: The dampness on our skin actually helps us to pick up the coolness from any moving air]. But you’ll find some babies sweat more than others. If your baby feels very sweaty, check to see how hot she is.
“If your baby’s hot to the touch, wipe her down with a damp towel – on the face, neck, arms and legs – and open internal doors and windows, so a natural, flowing breeze is created,” says Chireal Shallow, psychologist and sleep expert at the Naturally Nurturing Clinic. Avoid air conditioning, as it can be dehydrating.
A lot of night sweats can be avoided if your house is kept cool throughout the day. In the UK we tend to fling open curtains and windows when there’s sunshine, but in Mediterranean countries people keep the heat out with unopened curtains. This avoids a greenhouse effect, where the heat builds up and up inside. They also close doors and windows behind them.
Don’t panic if your baby is sleeping more soundly than usual. “The heat can make us lethargic, which is quite natural,” says Chireal Shallow. “I wouldn’t get too worried unless you have problems rousing your baby or he displays odd behaviour.”
Will overheating harm your baby?
There are well-known concerns that overheating increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), but it appears that we shouldn’t be getting too worried over hot nights.
“Although heat stress is undoubtedly a contributing factor in some unexpected infant deaths, heat stress seems, paradoxically, to be more of a problem in cold weather when parents may wrap their baby more heavily,” says Peter Fleming, Professor of Infant Health at the University of Bristol.
“With excess wrapping your baby may find it hard to cool down and can become heat stressed. Babies don’t really need much more wrapping up or clothing than adults in hot conditions. And, most importantly, parents should ensure that there’s no possibility of the baby’s head becoming covered with bedding or clothing. Babies can lose heat effectively when necessary, particularly from the head. It’s unlikely a little one would come to harm from high ambient environmental temperatures that an adult could cope with.”
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