Getting The Temperature Right
Babies' overheating while they sleep is a risk factor for cot death, so it's important not to let your baby get too hot while they sleep. The room your baby sleeps in should be between 16-20 degrees, with 18 degrees being the ideal temperature. Make sure you have a thermometer in your baby's room to check the temperature. Most baby monitors come with inbuilt thermometers, but if you don't have one of these, thermometers are easy and cheap to buy.
Depending on the temperature in your baby's room, you'll have to adjust what they are wearing and what bedding they have. Never use a duvet or pillow for your baby, as they can suffocate babies under one year old. Here's a list of what to dress your baby in for different temperatures:
Over 24 degrees - Too Hot
Cool the room as much as you can. Dress your baby in just a vest. Use a sheet rather than a blanket until the room cools down.
20-24 degrees - Very Warm
Dress your baby in a babygrow or pajamas, with either a sleeping bag with a tog rating of 0.5 or 1, or one blanket. For babies under 3 months old, dress them in a vest and a babygrow, and use a sleeping bag that is small enough for a newborn, use one a tog rating of 0.5 or 1. Remember that a blanket folded over once counts as 2 blankets, and a blanket folded over twice counts as 4 layers of blanket etc. Don't put blankets past your baby's shoulders, as they might go over your baby's face and cause suffocation or overheating in the night. Many parents choose to swaddle their newborn baby as it can be helpful in settling them and reducing distress from colic. However, it is important to understand that tight swaddling is considered to be bad for the development of babies' hips. Freedom for them to move their legs upwards and outwards is imperative for the recovery and prevention of hip development problems.
16-20 - Comfortable
18 is the optimum temperature for a baby's room. For 16-20 degrees, dress your baby in a vest and cotton babygrow. If the temperature is 20 degrees, use either a sleeping bag with a 1 tog rating, or one blanket. If the temperature is 16 degrees, use a 2.5 tog sleeping bag, or 2 blankets. 16 will feel quite cool so put an extra blanket on over the sleeping bag or blankets. Using blankets to layer up makes it easier to get your baby to the right temperature than adding or removing clothes if your baby gets too hot or too cold in the night.
Under 16 degrees - Too Cold
Warm up the room before you put your baby to bed. Your baby may wake in the night from being too cold. Dress your baby in a vest, cotton babygrow, 2.5 tog sleeping bag or 2 blankets, and an extra blanket or two on top.
You don't need to put extra blankets on your baby when they are ill, even in winter. If your baby is feverish, it is especially important not to bundle him up in too many bedclothes. If your baby has a raised temperature, use fewer blankets or a lower tog sleeping bag until his temperature has gone down to normal. To check the temperature of your baby, check the back of his neck with the back of your hand. It should feel warm. If he feels hot or his skin is damp from sweating, remove some of the bedding. Don't worry if your baby's hands and feet feel cool, this is normal .
Don't dress your baby in a hat to go to sleep, as babies get rid of excess heat through their heads. Try to dress your baby in 100% cotton clothing, as polyester clothes don't let the skin breath and can cause overheating. Stick to 100% cotton blankets, sheets and sleeping bags if you can too, as there's less risk of overheating in these.
How to Change the Temperature in Your Baby's Room
Thermostatic control is a great way to change the temperature in your baby's room, but if your baby's room doesn't have its own thermostat (and lets be honest, not many people's houses do have thermostats in each room!), there are others ways you can change the temperature. If your baby's room is too cool, put the radiator on or use a fan heater to heat it up (remember to turn these off before you put your baby to bed, or room will get too hot). Don't put your baby's cot next to a radiator or window however. If it's a hot day, open the window and close the curtains during the day to cool room down. You can also use a fan to cool the room, making sure it isn't blowing directly onto your baby (also make sure it is out of your baby's reach). If the room is very warm, leave the door open a little to let air circulate. If your baby likes some light in his room when he sleeps, use a night light, but turn off lamps as they heat up rooms. Sometimes if it is a very hot night, the room will still be too hot even with these measures. Dress your baby very lightly, in just a cotton vest.