How hot is too hot for your baby's bedroom? Here's the short answer: anything above 21 degrees celsius. Babies are most comfortable sleeping between 16 and 21 degrees. The rule of thumb to keep them warm is to dress them in one more layer than you feel you need to sleep comfortably.
But what to do in the summer with no air conditioning?
Therein lies the need for the long answer.
One thing is certain: it is safer for baby to be too cold than too hot. Babies will wake and cry if they're a bit chilly, and you can solve the problem then. But they won't likely do the same if they're too hot. And while I don't like to spark fear, especially when the summertime heat is beyond our control, overheating is a risk factor for SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
If you're one of those parents whose home is just stifling and you can't seem to cool baby's room, here are some ideas and tips to help keep your baby safe and comfortable:
- Dress baby as lightly as possible (see rule of thumb in the first paragraph). Sometimes this could mean nothing but a diaper or just a light, sleeveless sleep sack.
- Keep a fan running on high in the room in the hours before bedtime. Turn it to low, direct it away from your baby and keep it far from his reach before you put baby down.
- Remove any waterproof mattress coverings while the weather is hot as it doesn't breathe as well.
- Invest in good window coverings for baby's room and keep them closed all day with the windows open to prevent the sun from heating the room more.
- If your baby falls asleep in the stroller, keep a close eye as she can easily get too warm in there. And don't cover the stroller with a blanket - this can trap more heat inside.
- If your baby falls asleep in her carseat, keep the car running and air conditioning on. I know, I know, more greenhouse gasses, more climate change and more hot temperatures. But you have a pretty good reason; all those other idlers should get with the program. (And car seats are for cars - don't let baby sleep in the car seat at home.)
- Here's a great idea from Babycenter UK's web site: hang wet towels over chairs and window frames (never over baby's crib railings!) as the evaporating water can cool the air.
- Give your baby a cool bath before bed.
If you think your baby may be too hot, feel his belly; if it feels overly warm or he's sweaty, remove a layer; it's worth waking him for. Remember that it's normal for your baby's hands and feet to be cooler than the rest of his body, so don't check there.
While we move through the lazy (or busy!) months of summer, don't forget to keep yourself and your baby well hydrated. For babies under 6 months, breastfeeding to meet demand should be sufficient; just be sure she's having a normal number of wet diapers. If your baby is a little older, offer water from a sippy cup more often than usual.