One of the primary concerns parents have at nighttime is ensuring their little ones stay warm. Questions like "How can I be certain my baby is warm enough during the night?" and worries about room temperature often arise, causing sleep disturbances for both parents and their little ones.
Many parents find themselves troubled by this issue since babies are not supposed to have blankets on their beds due to safety concerns. As adults are accustomed to using blankets, it's natural to feel anxious about keeping your baby warm throughout the night.
Achieving the right balance of warmth is essential for promoting restful sleep for both you and your infant but it’s also crucial not to let your baby get too hot. Overheating can be more dangerous than being too cold, as it raises the risk of SIDS. Because of this, finding the right temperature is key.
Fortunately, there are lots of things you can do to make sure your baby is cozy all night long. We take a look at the various options to keep your baby warm at night below!
Understanding Baby's Temperature Regulation
It's important to understand that babies cannot regulate their body temperature in the same way that adults can. This recognition is vital in ensuring their well-being. Due to their larger surface area and potentially insufficient body fat, infants may struggle to retain heat effectively.
Additionally, their underdeveloped sweat glands make it difficult for them to cool down through sweating.
Compared to adults, babies are more susceptible to fluctuations in ambient temperature. Adults generally have better temperature regulation abilities. Given these differences, it becomes imperative to learn how to keep your baby warm in their crib and dress them appropriately for sleep, so as to avoid both overheating and excessive cold.
Understanding the specific measures to maintain a suitable temperature for your baby while they sleep is of utmost importance. By doing so, you can ensure their comfort and safeguard them from potential discomfort or health risks caused by temperature extremes.
Ideal Room Temperature for Baby's Sleep
The ambient room temperature is very important when it comes to keeping your baby at the right temperature, and it’s a big factor when keeping a baby warm at night.
Your baby’s room should be between 68 and 72 degrees F at night. This gives you a baseline that is comfortable for the infant and will go a long way toward keeping them at the right temperature.
You can warm and cool the room using your central heating and fans, but keep these away from the crib itself. Don’t place your baby’s crib next to a radiator, and don’t point hot or cold air directly at the crib. Instead, focus on the overall temperature.
The Sleep Foundation suggests having a separate thermometer for the bedroom so you can better control the temperature in there.
Dressing Your Baby for Warmth
If you find yourself concerned about keeping your baby warm during winter or struggling to determine how to keep a newborn warm at night, it's natural to explore different sleepwear options.
While warm baby pajamas may seem like the obvious choice, there are several factors to consider when it comes to selecting appropriate sleepwear for your infant.
One essential item to consider is a sleep sack, which provides a safe and cozy environment for your little one.
A quality sleep sack, such as Woolino's carefully designed product, offers temperature regulation, moisture-wicking properties, and the freedom for your baby to move their arms and develop their hip muscles. Cotton sleep sacks from the same company are also available, making them ideal for summer use.
Footed pajamas can be an excellent choice if you worry about your baby's toes getting cold while they move around during sleep. They are snug, cozy, and prevent the risk of your baby kicking them off. Woolino's soft merino footed pajamas are perfect for ensuring comfortable rest.
Onesies are versatile sleepwear options that can be used alone, as part of layering, or paired with a light swaddle or sleep sack on warmer nights.
Woolino offers soft merino wool onesies suitable for year-round wear. The long sleeves keep your baby's torso and arms warm without causing overheating or suffocation risks.
Implementing layering techniques is a practical way to keep your baby warm at night without the use of blankets.
As a general rule, dress your baby in one more layer than what makes you feel comfortable in the room. This compensates for the absence of blankets and ensures their snugness. For instance, if you would wear two layers, dress your baby in two layers and add a sleep sack or swaddle.
Choosing suitable fabrics for warmth
When selecting fabrics for warmth, wool is an excellent choice as it effectively maintains temperature. Cotton is another suitable option due to its ability to vary in thickness and excellent breathability.
You may also consider cozy materials like fleece, but keep in mind that they require careful washing to maintain their shape. Bamboo and linen are good choices as well, although they tend to vent heat more and may not provide sufficient warmth during winter.
By considering these factors and choosing appropriate sleepwear, you can ensure your baby stays comfortably warm throughout the night without the need for blankets.
Using Blankets and Swaddles
If you're wondering how to keep your baby warm at night, blankets and swaddles are certainly worth considering. Swaddles, commonly used with young infants, offer a sense of security and comfort.
They help keep your baby on their back, reduce the startle reflex, promote longer sleep periods, and minimize crying. Swaddling also adds an extra layer of warmth, particularly when using materials like merino wool for the swaddle.
While not all parents choose to swaddle their infants, if you opt for it, ensure you select a lightweight blanket that stays securely in place. The swaddle should measure at least 42 inches by 42 inches and have a square shape. It should be tuckable and allow for hip movement by being loose enough.
However, it's crucial to exercise caution when using swaddles and blankets. Never place a loose blanket on the bed of a baby under the age of 12 months old, as it poses risks of suffocation, strangulation, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Avoid having any loose items in your child's crib until they reach around 1 year old.
Remember to discontinue swaddling as your infant approaches the 2-3 month mark or begins attempting to roll over, as they need their arms to be free at this stage of development.
Once your child has reached 1 year old, you can introduce soft, warm, lightweight blankets to their bed. However, ensure these blankets are small and light enough to not pose a safety risk.
Safe Sleeping Tips
To enhance safety whilst your baby sleeps, there are several measures you can take. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends placing your child on their back, on a firm, flat surface. Avoid placing any loose items in the crib, including bumpers, soft toys, and blankets.
Unless specifically advised by a healthcare professional, refrain from placing your baby on their front or propping them up.
It’s usually advisable to keep your baby in your room for at least the first 6 months. However, current recommendations suggest using a separate crib near your bed instead of sharing the same bed. Don’t fall asleep on a sofa or in a chair with your little one, and don’t let them sleep in an upright position.
Regularly checking on your baby is a good practice to ensure they are not overheating or becoming too cold. You can test their body temperature by touching their core area, as their limbs may not accurately reflect their overall body temperature.
Creating a Cozy Sleep Environment
Creating a cozy sleeping environment is key to promoting better sleep for your baby. Here are a few things that you can do to achieve this.
Ensure that your baby's room is dark by using darkening shades, particularly during nap time. If you need a light, consider using a red light, as it is less likely to disrupt their sleep rhythms.
Using a white noise machine can also be beneficial. It helps mask street noise and other sounds within the house, creating a more soothing and uninterrupted sleep environment for your baby.
When it comes to bedding, prioritize comfort and safety. Use a fitted sheet on the bed to prevent any risk of tangling around your child. As advised by Verywell Family, it's important to avoid the use of bumpers, pillows, blankets, toys, and other items in your baby's crib, as they can pose safety hazards.
By implementing these measures, you can create a cozy and safe sleeping environment that promotes better sleep for your baby.
Monitoring Baby's Comfort
Keeping watch over your baby when they sleep is important, and it’s one of the reasons that having the baby sleep in your room is recommended. This will let you adjust the environment if anything goes wrong, and allow you to watch for signs of discomfort.
If you think your baby is too hot, look for:
- Flushed face
- Damp, sweaty hair
- Heat rash
- Rapid heartbeat
- Fast breathing
- Warm skin
If you think your baby is too cold, the best way to check is to feel their core body (neck, chest, tummy). Cold hands and feet don’t necessarily mean they need more layers. Other signs of being too cold include:
- Blotchy skin
- Very sleepy and won’t wake up
- Fussy and won’t settle
If you think your child is too hot, remove a layer or two of their clothing, and make sure the room isn’t too warm. On really hot nights, it’s safe for your baby to sleep in just a diaper and a light swaddle, or something similar.
If you think your child is cold, you may wish to hold them for a while, as your body temperature will bring theirs up. Put them in a warmer sleep sack or add an extra layer of clothes. Don’t put a blanket around them, add a hat, use a hot water bottle, or put them beside a heater.
Some people wonder how to keep their baby’s hands warm at night. Hand warmth isn’t particularly important as long as their core temperature is high enough, but you can use long-sleeved bodysuits or slightly warmer sleep sacks if you are concerned.
By now, you should have a good understanding of how to dress your baby for sleep and how to keep them warm at night. Utilizing multiple lightweight layers is the safest and most effective method to ensure your little one stays cozy and secure during sleep.
To maintain a suitable sleeping environment, ensure that the room is dark, comfortable, and moderately cool—not excessively cold. This allows for better regulation of your child's body temperature and helps avoid the risks of overheating. If needed, you can use a fan or heater, but remember to turn them off before leaving the room and avoid directing airflow directly at the child's bed.
Building confidence in your routine may take some time, as every child and parent are unique. It's essential to keep a watchful eye on your baby while they sleep, particularly during the early months, as it is one of the best ways to prioritize safety and ensure their comfort. Regularly checking their temperature and making adjustments as needed will provide reassurance and allow you to respond appropriately to their needs.
Can I use electric blankets or heating pads to keep my baby warm?
No. Never use an electric blanket or heating pad with a baby. They cannot regulate their body temperatures well enough for these items to be safe. It is okay to warm the bed using a hot water bottle before you put your baby in it, but never leave your child to sleep with a heat source. The risk of overheating is too high.
How can I keep my baby warm without using blankets?
If the room is the right temperature and you dress your baby in a couple of layers, plus a sleep sack, they should not get cold at night. You can use a heavier TOG sleep sack for cold weather, and keep checking on your baby’s core temperature if you are concerned.
How often should I check on my baby's temperature during sleep?
There aren’t currently any guidelines on this, but it’s a good idea to check on your baby every 15-30 minutes when they are very young. You can check whether their core feels warm or cold at this time, and make any necessary adjustments.
You will need to check less as you gain experience and confidence, but as a new parent, it’s better to be vigilant and careful.
What should I do if my baby kicks off the blankets during the night?
Until they are a year old, your baby should not have loose blankets that they can kick off in the night. Avoid any loose items in the crib. Use sleep sacks and appropriate swaddle blankets. If your child does manage to kick off their blanket, this is a sign that it wasn’t swaddled correctly or it’s not the right size.
Opt instead for well-fitted, layered clothes and sleep sacks or sleeping bags that are the right size for your little one. If you want to swaddle your child, make sure you understand the proper technique so that this can be done safely.
If an older child kicks off their blankets, it’s not a problem unless they are getting cold. If they are getting cold, consider getting them a toddler sleep sack to keep them snug.