It is important that your little one does not get too warm or too cold while sleeping. Getting an infant’s temperature right when he is asleep has always been a challenge for many parents. Eventually however, a child can learn to pull the covers up for himself until at least he reaches the age of four. Since an infant is so tiny and can never express how he feels, the challenge of assessing his temperature becomes more apparently difficult.
When it comes to the baby’s temperature, the stakes that come with it are usually high. Babies that are too cold will not want to sleep and those that are too hot has an increased risk of SIDS.
There is also the challenge of setting the correct temperature around the house and finding the right clothes for an infant.
What are the signs that say a baby is too warm or too cold?
For many years, it has always been believed that a baby is okay so long as his hands and feet were cool. This is because the coolness has been attributed to the baby’s immature circulatory system.
In recent times however, the World Health Organization suggests that a baby’s hands and feet must be pink and warm to touch. These signs indicate that the baby is in thermal comfort.
When your baby’s feet are cold and the body is warm, it means your baby is in cold stress. If both the feet and the body are cold to touch, your baby may be under a condition known as hypothermia.
Signs of warmth or coolness in a baby are usually felt on his chest, stomach, or back. If your baby starts feeling uncomfortable because of his temperature, he may start crying as a way to communicate.
It may be more difficult to spot certain signs of more serious problems due to overheating. For babies suffering from heat exhaustion, they may seem very thirsty or sleepy while their skin feel moist and cool.
Other signs include being lethargic, having a rapid pulse, skin appearing as red and dry, and vomiting. These signs, along with a baby temperature of more than 103 F, all indicate heat stroke which is deemed as a life-threatening condition.
A baby who is on the verge of getting too cold will become very quiet and remain still. Unlike adults, babies don’t know how to shiver in order to generate heat. They also lose the energy needed to cry and the interest to eat. All of their energy are being focused on trying to stay warm.
If the baby has cold hands and feet and his chest also feels cold to touch under his clothes, he may be dangerously chilled.
What should I do to keep my baby from getting too warm or too cold?
There are many things to consider in order to keep your baby from getting too warm or too cold. These would include the temperature (both inside and outside the house), the clothes he’s wearing, bedding specifics, and your baby’s surroundings.
A room which has a temperature of 16 to 20 degrees C (61- to 68 degrees F) is ideal and will help keep your baby feeling comfortable and sleep more safely. You may want to use a room thermometer in order to get accurate measurement at all times.
When the weather is hot outside, you can use a fan to cool your house down. Be sure that the fan is not pointed directly at your baby.
On a cold weather, you can turn your radiators on and then set the thermostat to 18 degrees. You can also adjust the setting when it’s necessary.
You can let your baby wear soft, one-piece, footed cotton sleepsuits that will help in keeping him warm all night. When it’s too cold in your baby’s sleeping room, you can allow him to wear a vest that can be placed underneath his sleepsuit.
Since heat escapes through the baby’s head, it is also a good idea to allow your baby to wear a hat to keep him warm. However, there is absolutely no need for your baby to wear one when he’s indoors or while he is asleep.
Wearing layered clothing, as opposed to wearing only one thick and chunky sweater, is best for keeping your baby feel warmer. In other words, let him wear light undershirts and several tops and layers that can be easily removed depending on the weather.
A general rule of thumb to remember is that a baby would usually need one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear at the same temperature.
Always choose a fitted sheet and layers of cotton blankets for your little one’s cot. Don’t use a duvet. Make sure that you also keep a lot of extras on hand for changes.
Sheepskins are generally safe for babies to use so long as the baby sleeps on his back. With this in mind, it is therefore safe to assume that sheepskins are only really suitable during the baby’s early weeks before he learns to roll over.
Sheets and blankets should be tucked in carefully. There shouldn’t be any loose ends which can obstruct your baby’s breathing.
If your little one has a fever, he will need less, not more, bedding.
If your baby is using a sleeping bag, it should also be well fitted particularly around his neck and arms but should feel comfortable enough. A well fitted sleeping bag will prevent your baby from wriggling down inside.
Never place your baby near the draft of an open window, an open door, or in front or on top a hot or cold air vent. Avoid using ceiling fans which can also create a cool breeze for your baby. Continue doing so even during those warm summer months.
To prevent your little one from becoming too warm, keep his sleeping area away from heaters, fires, radiators or direct sunlight. Moreover, never place an electric blanket or a hot water bottle in his bed either.
Other things that you can do include giving your baby a warm bath before bedtime, swaddling, holding his skin against yours and tucking his hands under your armpits to warm him up.