Adjusting the room temperature can be tricky between cohabitating people. Some like it warmer, while others prefer a cooler temperature.
But what about your baby? She can’t yet tell us her preference, and with various recommendations from friends, family, and good ol’ Google it can be challenging to know what temperature to set your air con to.
There are various temperature recommendations out there, and different cultural teachings may advocate for different temperatures.
So what’s the best room temperature for my baby?
One recommendation that is frequently quoted is between 18-20 degrees Celsius, or 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit.
I know that number is surprising to some of us! Especially in China, where some recommendations are to keep babies warmly dressed and limit the exposure to air con.
When it comes to room temperature preference, babies aren’t so different from most adults. Babies thrive when the temperatures are comfortable and cool, without major temperature fluctuations and avoiding drafts or direct wind from a fan.
This recommendation is just a guideline that can help you make choices that feel right for your family. The temperature range quoted above is very narrow, and your baby will likely be comfortable outside of that temperature range as well. I mean, you can’t control the weather, and you gotta go outside sometime!
Why is a cool room temperature beneficial for babies?
Studies show that cool (not cold) room temperatures can help keep babies safe and comfortable.
When infants are overheated, either in a hot room or by being too warmly dressed, they are at a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. Babies are most vulnerable before six months of age, but this risk through overheating extends into the toddler years. Cooler rooms can reduce the risk of SIDS especially in the first few months of life.
Babies that are too warm may not be very alert when feeding, which can make it more challenging to latch your baby or keep her awake during a breastfeeding session. A cooler room can help your baby to be more alert, and have a more productive breastfeeding session.
Many studies also show that babies sleep better when they’re not too hot, which could mean fewer night wakings or longer daytime naps.
Signs your baby is too warm
You can check to see if your baby is too warm by touching the back of your baby’s neck or his chest. Babies don’t sweat the same way that adults do, but if your baby’s neck or body is sweaty that’s a sure sign that it’s too warm in the room, or they are dressed too warmly.
Your baby’s chest may feel hot if overheated. Feeling for temp on your baby’s torso is the most accurate measure of temperature, as hands and feet will always be cooler than your baby’s torso.
Your baby may also be too warm if she has flushed or red skin, or is overly irritable. Feeling too warm is enough to make anyone a bit cranky!
Signs that your baby is too cold
It’s important that babies are not too cold. A good guide is to dress babies in one additional layer than you’re comfortable wearing in cool temps. Babies are not as good at regulating body temperature as an adult is, so that extra layer will help your baby to stay comfortable and avoid fluctuations in temperature.
If your baby starts to shiver, or his hands and feet turn blue, that’s a sure sign that he’s too cold. Shivering can cause your baby to burn calories that they need to grow.
An additional layer of clothes, a sleep sack, or a swaddle (before two months of age) can be used to keep baby comfortable when it’s cool. Stop swaddle use by two months of age, as your baby may start learning to roll over around that time.
Never use electric blankets or a hot water bottle to keep your baby warm during cold temps.
Avoid thick sleeping bags or blankets in the crib, as these are associated with a higher risk of SIDS.
The take away:
You won’t always be able to control the temperature in the room or outside. Following these guidelines to check for overheating or feeling too cold will help you keep your baby comfortable and safe. You’re the expert on your baby, and should make choices that feel right for you and your family.
If you have additional questions regarding newborn care or lactation consultation support, contact Doulas of Shanghai for more information about how we can support you during pregnancy and after you bring your little one home.