Nursery safety: temperature tips for baby's room
It’s a given that new parents get less sleep than others, and that when your baby isn’t sleeping well, neither are you. You’ll find numerous articles and tip sheets on helping baby (and you) to sleep better in the OHbaby! baby sleep section; here though, we explore the importance of the correct room temperature on your baby’s sleep quality, and how to make sure your little one stays safe and comfortable while they snooze.
Newborns and young babies can’t regulate their temperature and rely on us to control it for them. Newborns in particular are prone to hypothermia because of the combination of their large body surface area, their small amount of subcutaneous fat, and their decreased ability to shiver (the body’s attempt to warm you up through movement).
Room temperature is a safety issue: when babies are hot, they have a harder time waking which can increase the risk of Sudden Unexplained Death of an Infant (SUDI). When they’re too cold baby can easily become uncomfortably chilly and wake up unnecessarily.
Room temperature is also about comfort, and the temperature of baby’s bedroom can mean the difference between a night of peaceful shut-eye - or pulling an all-nighter. When body temperature dips at night (as it is naturally inclined to do), it not only triggers the brain to prepare for sleep, but also results in deeper, better sleep.
The ‘climate’ of a room means the humidity, or amount of moisture in the air. A room that’s a little too warm or humid is no big deal for adults and older kids, but babies are more sensitive to temperature and humidity. For example, if the humidity level is too low, it can cause dry eyes and throat. And when it’s a little too cold or warm, babies can’t regulate their body temperature the way an adult can.
Think of the ideal room climate as a range rather than a specific temperature or humidity level. The healthiest room temperature for your little one is somewhere between 16˚C and 19˚C, while humidity levels should ideally be kept between 40% - 60%. A smart baby monitor has your back here as it can continuously track the temperature and humidity of a room for you.
By setting thresholds for temperature and humidity on a smart baby monitor, you receive notifications when the climate readings exceed these thresholds. You’ll always know whether the climate is healthy for your baby - or needs a little tweaking.
However, you do need to check on your baby regularly while they’re sleeping, to make sure they’re not getting too hot. Carefully feel your baby’s tummy or the back of their neck (your baby’s hands and feet will usually be cooler, which is normal). If your baby’s skin is hot or sweaty, remove one or more layers of bedclothes or bedding. The best way to check on your baby’s temperature is by putting your hand on the skin on their tummy or the back of their neck. Don’t use their hands or feet as a guide as they will always feel cooler than the rest of their body.
Babies do not need to wear hats while sleeping, as their bare head is vital for maintaining their body temperature by releasing heat.
It’s rarely necessary to keep your heating on all night, and adding an extra layer will usually help. If you do feel your home is too cold and you want to leave the heating on all night, make sure it is set at a low temperature, and certainly no higher than 20⁰C.
Every baby is different and our advice on room temperature is intended as a guide.
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