Worried that your baby’s hands are a little chilly when you put her down to sleep? Before you grab another blanket, it’s important to know it’s much more dangerous for a newborn to overheat than it is for her to be a little chilly, because overheating is one of the risk factors of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
But how can I sleep knowing my baby might be cold?
Rest assured mom, your little one’s hands is not the best gauge of whether or not she’s cold. Says Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting: “A baby’s hands (and feet) are usually cooler to the touch due to a still-developing circulatory system.”
She suggests feeling the nape of your baby’s neck to feel whether or not your little one is warm enough. If that skin is very warm to the touch and sweaty, she’s either overdressed or her room is overheated. If the skin is chilly, she’s underdressed or the room is too cold. If your baby is warm to the touch, but not hot – she’s perfectly fine.
Another way to tell if you’re baby is too hot or too cold is to look at what you’re wearing. If you’re comfortable in what you’re wearing (without being swaddled like a Polar bear), chances are she’ll be comfortable too. Says Heidi: “Once a full-term infant has clocked in a few days of life on the outside, her body has gained the ability to regulate her temperature. At that point, she doesn’t need to be dressed any more warmly than you do.”
The ideal sleeping temperature
The Lullaby Trust, a charitable British organisation aiming to prevent unexpected deaths in infancy and promote infant health, suggests a room temperature of 16-20°C – with light bedding or a lightweight, well-fitting baby sleep bag that is comfortable and safe for sleeping babies.
Don’t overdress your baby when she’s sick
According to The Lullaby Trust, your baby needs fewer, not more clothes when she’s feeling unwell and you put her to sleep. Your baby also doesn’t need to wear a hat when she’s inside or sleep under a duvet or quilt. Her head is important for maintaining her body temperature by releasing heat.
What if my home is cold inside?
You don’t have to keep the heater on all night in baby’s room – simply adding an extra layer will help. But remember to check the nape of your baby’s neck first before adding another layer.
If you do want to keep the heat on throughout the night, make sure the temperature isn’t set higher than 20°C.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.