In the first few months of life, your baby cannot regulate his own temperature. Let’s look at temperature regulation for comfort and safety.
After 9 months in a perfectly regulated environment – the womb – it becomes one of your baby’s first tasks to regulate his body temperature. It takes a while for this ability to develop and intermittently you may find that your baby is too hot or has freezing hands. Because of this, many parents fall into the trap of wrapping their babies too warmly, with too many layers or in a fleece blanket.
There is an enormous risk for your baby if he becomes too hot. Research has shown that overheating young babies has been linked to SIDS or cot death. There are a few critical guidelines you should follow when deciding how many layers your baby needs and which clothes, blankets, and accessories to buy for your new baby.
- The optimal temperature for your baby’s room is 18 to 20 degrees C (64 – 68 degrees F)– any hotter than this and your baby will be uncomfortable and at the risk of SIDS when sleeping. Invest in a good room thermometer and use a fan to cool it down or a humidifier or panel heater to warm it to the right temperature.
- As a rule of thumb always ensure your baby wears one more layer than you do. So if it is a hot day and you are wearing a T-shirt put a vest under your baby’s T-shirt and he will be warm enough.
- Swaddling is so important for a calm baby in the early days, even in hot weather. If you are swaddling your baby on a hot day, let him wear only a vest or even only a nappy under the swaddle.
- A folded blanket is worth two blankets so if you are folding your swaddle, bear in mind that there are double layers on your baby. Never use a polyester or fleece swaddle.
- Dress your baby in 100% cotton clothes only, as natural fibers regulate temperature and breath better than synthetic fabrics.
- Never use polyester or synthetic fabric blankets as synthetic fibers do not breathe and cause the baby’s temperature to rise dangerously. This means all synthetic blankets, polyester filled sleeping bags and fleece blankets pose a risk for small babies.
- In the summer, use a 100% cotton sleeping bag over a single layer of clothing at night, as even warm summer nights cool down in the early hours of the morning.
- Remember if you cover your baby with blankets at night to tuck then in well or use a sleeping bag because loose blankets pose the risk of suffocation if they move over your baby’s face.
- Do not use a duvet until the age of 2 years old.
To tell if your baby is hot or cold when sleeping at night, look at his position. If he is splayed out with his arms and legs well away from his body, it probably means he is too hot so remove a layer of blankets.
By dressing your baby appropriately you will ensure your baby is comfortable and at the right temperature, which is essential for happy days and peaceful nights!