Cool tips to help baby sleep when it’s hot
Summer is here! And in New Zealand at least, the temperature is predicted to be hotter than average this year. Being too hot can make it harder to sleep, so here are some cool tips to make sure your baby remains comfortable enough to sleep when it’s hot over the summer months. Because, let’s face it, not all of us have a portable air conditioning unit, especially when travelling for the holidays.
1. Know how hot the room is
The comfortable temperature range for sleeping is between 16 – 20 degrees Celsius, but it’s not easy to tell what the actual room temperature is by comfort alone.
The easiest way to gauge the temperature in your baby’s room is to use a room thermometer.
Knowing how hot it is in your child’s room let’s you adjust accordingly, especially when the temperature heats up during the day and drops again in the early hours of the morning.
A temperature check when you go to bed is a good idea to see if any adjustments need to be made then, and you may need to check again if you know you cannot maintain a consistent temperature in their room all night (remember it will probably get cooler again later).
2. Dress baby appropriately
When the room temperature climbs to 25 degrees Celcius or hotter during the night then just a nappy and thin cotton vest, or even a nappy and a light 0.5 tog sleep sack is likely enough for your baby.
Temperatures of around 23 degrees Celcius may require a short bodysuit or shorty pyjamas perhaps with thin socks, or just a nappy and a 0.5 – 1 tog sleep sack.
If swaddling in hot weather, make sure you’re using a light breathable fabric, as this counts as a clothing layer (or two depending on the size of the wrap). And remember no hats on (ever) for sleeping.
For very young babies who do not use bedding, swaddling or sleep sacks, suitable clothing for the room temperature is fine so that no covering is necessary. Suitable clothing will be something similar to what you’re wearing comfortably (with potentially one thin extra layer for a newborn).
3. Use natural fibres
Think cotton or other breathable natural fibres for sleep. This includes both pyjamas and bedding like sheets and sleep sacks.
Avoid waterproof mattress covers as these tend to hold in heat and make your baby sweat more (or cover the waterproof mattress with enough cotton sheeting to draw perspiration away from the skin).
4. Think ventilation
When there is a breeze outside, it can help to open windows on the same floor during the day so air can circulate. If possible, pull curtains some of the way across to block out hot sun but still allow the air in.
If you have a breeze but it’s still hot, consider wetting towels or cotton sheets and draping them across an open window. The breeze will help the water evaporate and cool the room at the same time. Wet towels across chairs can also help cool down a room if there’s a breeze.
5. Go thermal
If there’s no breeze and the sun comes streaming into baby’s room, installing a thermal blackout blind or curtains can really help. Seriously, they’re not only great for darkening the room to help your little one sleep, they also keep rooms cooler. If you keep the blinds down (or closed) throughout the day that is. Thermal isn’t just to keep the heat in, it also keeps the heat out!
6. Give fans a boost
Electric fans will often just blow warm air around, but you can help them out by placing a large bowl of ice or some frozen bottles of water in front of them. As the ice melts it helps cool the air that the fan circulates around the room.
Make sure the fan is out of your child’s reach, and don’t have it blowing directly on them. The bonus with fans is the white noise that often accompanies them.
7. Consider moving rooms
If your baby’s room is upstairs, especially if it’s on the northern side of the house, consider moving rooms. Hot air rises, so if you can move downstairs or to a cooler room on the other side of the house, do so – even if it’s just temporarily.
8. Stick to the routine
I get it, it’s summer and it gets hot, and it’s easy to get out of kilter. But just because it’s hot, there’s no need to give up the bedtime routine. A calm baby will remain cooler than a frustrated baby so try to maintain your calming bedtime routine and offer reassurance and comfort if they are agitated.
9. A cool bath
A luke-warm or slightly cooler bath than usual might help to refresh your baby before bedtime and relieve any clamminess. Make it a quick bath so she doesn’t get too chilly.
10. Beware of sleeping on the go
The enclosed spaces of prams, capsules and carseats can get hot very quickly, so ensure you keep an eye on your little one when out and about and never leave him or her unsupervised.
11. Know how hot your baby is
Babies are at risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) if they severely overheat, so in hot weather you need to keep a close eye on them wherever they are. Obvious signs of overheating are sweating on their head or neck or even if they have a redder face than usual. Other signs include rapid breathing and rashes.
If you are unsure about your baby’s temperature, feel the back of his neck or use a thermometer.
Extremities like hands and feet do get cooler than the rest of the body so it is natural for these to feel a little colder to the touch. If your baby is getting flushed or hotter than usual, work at cooling them down immediately.
Hopefully by having these tips up your short sleeves this summer, you’ll have some idea on how to keep cool even if you’re travelling.
Because everyone needs a good night’s sleep!