Updated: Jul 26
In the UK we’ve hit a sudden heatwave, uncharacteristic of this time of year. And while us adults may love the chance to top up our tans and light the BBQ finally, it can be a real worry for parents concerned about their children’s health.
Babies are particularly vulnerable to over-heating as they can’t regulate their body temperature until about 18 months old. They also obviously are unable to tell their parents when they’re too hot, meaning parents have to keep a constant eye on them.
Your baby is likely to become restless if they’re too hot or too cold so this is a handy way of being able to tell. They may become more difficult to settle to sleep and wake more frequently or earlier due to the discomfort of the temperature.
Newborns are at risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) if they overheat so check they don’t have a moist head or neck as these are signs of sweating and overheating. If their face is redder than usual or they have a rash or rapid breathing, these could also be a sign of overheating.
It’s vital to keep babies cool in this heat so hear are some top tips on how to help keep them chilled this summer.
1- Dress them appropriately for the room temperature
If the room is very hot (e.g. over 25c for most of the night), just a nappy and a thin cotton vest may do. If the room is between 20-23c, a short baby grow, shorts-and-t-shirt pyjamas, or just a nappy with a 1 tog sleep sack are all good ideas.
If your baby is too young for any kind of bedding and it’s too hot for a sleep sack, just dress them in suitable clothing for the room temperature so not covering is required.
2- Create a breeze
During the day, open all the windows on the same floor as where your child sleeps to create a blow-through and pull the curtains two thirds of the way across to block out the sun but still allow the breeze through.
3- Ventilate your home
Open your loft hatch if you have one to allow any heat to escape through the roof.
4- Use appropriate bedding
Only use cotton bed sheets and avoid any waterproof mattress coverings as these can hold heat and make your baby overheat.
5- Give them a quick, refreshing bath
A luke-warm bath or slightly cooler bath may help to refresh your baby before bedtime and relieve any clamminess. Just make sure you make it a quick bath so they don’t get too chilly.
6- Get a room thermometer
This is so you know what temperature you are dealing with. It takes away any guesswork and gives you peace of mine that you’ve dressed your baby appropriately.
7- Put ice in baby’s room
Large bottles of frozen water, placed in your baby’s room may help to cool the air as it melts overnight.
8- Give electric fans a helping hand
Electric fans often just blow the warm air around the room, so place a large bowl of ice or some frozen water bottles in front of the fan to cool the air that circulates the room throughout the night.
9- Keep baby calm
A calm baby will stay cooler than a frustrated baby so try to maintain a calm bedtime routine and offer reassurance and comfort if they get agitated. A cool flannel or cold compress dabbed gently on your baby may help to cool and calm them.
10- Consider moving rooms
If you can’t keep your baby cool in their own room, consider moving them to a cooler room in the house temporarily
11- Set them up for the whole night- not just the evening
Remember that no matter how hot it is at bedtime, the temperature will drop overnight so don’t put your baby in their cot in just a nappy if it will drop to below 25c in the night. You might want to check on them before you go to bed to see how the temperature is. Hands and feet do get colder than the rest of their body so it’s natural for these to feel a bit colder to the touch. If you’re not sure about your baby’s temperature, feel the back of their neck or use a thermometer.
12- Put yourself in their shoes
Babies will be comfortable dressed for temperatures just as you would dress ourselves. So ask yourself how hot it feels and what you would be comfortable in when you are considering how to dress your baby.
And remember that you can pull the covers over yourself easily but your baby can’t, so imagine you are going to bed without any bed covers!