Overheating Baby at Night: How to Keep Your Baby Cool in Hot Weather at Night
Parents just want to make sure their babies are cozy at night. Sleep is essential to a newborn’s development--and to a parent’s sanity! Although it isn’t always easy to know whether or not your newborn is safe and comfy when you put them to bed.
In the warmer months, parents also face the added challenge of asking themselves, “Am I overheating the baby at night?”
Often parents worry about their newborns being too cold (which of course you want to avoid!), but at night, it is critical to be sure a child is not too hot. Going to bed too warm can cause mild side effects from poor sleep to a heat rash, but research has also linked overheating to an increased risk of sudden-infant-death syndrome (SIDS).
For infants, a normal temperature is considered to be 97.5 degrees fahrenheit (36.4 degrees celsius). A temperature around 100.4 degrees fahrenheit (or 38 degrees celsius) is considered too hot for a baby.
Why do babies overheat?
Little ones are not born able to regulate their own temperature. This not only makes them more prone to overheating but also to getting too cold. In fact, they lose body heat four times faster than adults or older children!
When their body temperature rapidly changes, they are unable to communicate properly or make the necessary adjustments such as:
- Shiver to indicate they are cold
- Remove clothing to indicate they are hot
- Excessive sweating to indicate they are hot
How do I know if my baby is overheating?
During the warm summer months and even into the fall, parents in places like Texas and California struggle to keep their babies cool at night. It is important for parents and guardians to arm themselves with the right knowledge and tools to keep their little ones comfy, yet safe when they go to bed. This involves knowing what to look for when it comes to overheating.
Here are some indicators a baby is too hot:
- Warm to the touch
- Flushed or red skin
- Rapid heartbeat
- Fast breathing
- Lethargic or unresponsive
- Sweaty neck or damp hair
- Heat rash
- Restless and unable to sleep
- Rectal temperature of 100.4 or higher
What do I do if my baby is too hot?
If you’re concerned that your little one has overheated, the important thing to do is stay calm!
Here are some ways to help bring their temperature safely back down:
- Offer fluids (breastmilk, formula, or sips of water depending on their age)
- Apply a cold compress to their forehead or limbs
- Give them a lukewarm (NOT cold) bath
- Take off layers of clothing
- Go to a well ventilated room
If your child is unresponsive, call 911 or proceed to the nearest emergency room immediately.
How do I prevent overheating my baby at night?
Making sure your baby is the right temperature at night makes for a better night of sleep for them and for you! There are several preventive measures parents can take to avoid overheating their baby at bedtime.
You may not be able to control the weather outside, but you have some control over the conditions inside your baby’s room. The ideal temperature for a baby's room should be between 68 degrees to 72 degrees fahrenheit (or 20 degrees to 22.2 degrees celsius).
Even if you aren’t able to measure the exact temperature of the room, ask yourself, “Is the temperature in here too hot or too cold for me?” After all, babies are just little humans! If it’s too hot for you, it’s probably too hot for them, too.
Here are some ways to help keep their room cool enough:
- Make sure there is plenty of ventilation (open doors, open all air vents)
- Consider using blackout curtains to keep sunlight/heat out
- Use a fan to help air circulate
- Move to a lower room in the house (remember, heat rises!)
Safe sleep habits
Practicing safe sleep habits is critical. This means putting babies to sleep with their head and face uncovered. Since infants control their temperature through their face and head, leaving these areas free of hats, bonnets, beanies, or blankets, is one of the best ways to protect your little one from overheating. Plus, these can slip during the night and accidentally cause suffocation.
Other safe sleep habits recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) include:
- Until the age of 1, all babies should sleep on their backs
- Use a firm sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet
- Keep baby’s sleep area in the same room as you for the first 6 months to a year
These safe sleep habits help reduce the risk of overheating, accidental deaths from suffocation, and SIDS.
Regardless of the temperature, experts agree that parents should avoid any “loose” bedding when it comes to where an infant sleeps. AAP suggests parents “avoid the use of soft bedding, including crib bumpers, blankets, pillows, and soft toys.” Not only do these extra fabrics pose a risk of suffocation for your little one, but too many layers of bedding increases the temperature. This can easily lead to overheating.
Instead of loose blankets or quilts, it is suggested parents use:
These types of products are specifically designed to safely keep your baby at the right temperature during the night or whenever they are sleeping. Little ones tend to love these products because swaddling provides comfort and security similar to what they experienced in the womb.
In fact, some swaddles, like the Swaddle Ideal Temp, are made with special fabric to help regulate a baby’s temperature. The IntelliThread™ technology absorbs heat, stores it, and then releases it back to your baby, maintaining an ideal temperature and avoiding potential overheating.
Swaddling is recommended for infants until they are able to intentionally roll over, which typically happens around 3-4 months. After that stage, many parents transition to using a swaddle with their infants arms free or a sleep sack. A sleep sack, also known as a wearable blanket, is typically made with breathable fabric to keep a child comfy and warm without overheating them. It also continues to eliminate the need for loose fabrics that pose safety risks.
Shop our Swaddle Ideal Temp in 3 different colors:
When it comes to dressing your baby for bedtime, a good rule of thumb is to add an additional layer to what you’re wearing. In the warm summer months if you sleep in your underwear, you may want to avoid fleece footie pajamas. Here are some options to consider in the summertime:
- Short sleeve onesie
- Organic cotton onesie or t-shirt
- Cotton footless pajamas
- Cotton footie pajamas
You always want to air on the side of caution and not overdress your baby.
It is much easier and less dangerous to add a layer during the night. Again, you never want to put an infant to bed with any sort of hat, bonnet, or beanie. This prevent heat from escaping through the head (which can lead to overheating), and they are at risk for falling during the night and obstructing a child’s breathing.
Remember, as much as you might want to tuck your little one all snug and warm, babies cannot regulate their own temperature! In these warm summer months, it is critical to be sure you are practicing safe sleeping habits that increase the risk of your baby sleeping through the night without getting too hot!