Proper temperature of the sleep environment is vital for the baby's safety and health. The correlation between overheating and the increase of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in winter has been analysed at length.
Overheating has several possible consequences:
- Infants are helpless and fully dependent on their parents' intuition. Unlike adults, they cannot adjust the air conditioner, remove extra clothing, or slightly open the window.
- An inappropriate sleep environment (multiple layers of clothing, a thick blanket, a heated room, and a standard sponge mattress coated with oilcloth) can prevent proper ventilation and make evaporation of excessive body heat impossible.
- This can lead to a rise in the baby's body temperature, potentially causing seizures and, in extreme cases, life-threatening situations.
Determining if the baby is hot or cold:
- Observe the baby's behavior. A calm and soundly sleeping baby is likely feeling comfortable, even if their hands and feet feel cool.
- Gently touch the baby's skin on the neck, chest, or abdomen, considering that our hands' temperature can vary.
- Observe the baby's face for signs of warmth or their natural color.
Guidelines for maintaining the right temperature:
- The recommended temperature for the baby's sleep environment in Australia is 18-22 degrees Celsius (both in summer and winter).
- Measure the room temperature using a reliable thermometer placed near the baby's bed, considering that the lower part of the room may be colder.
- Position radiators away from the baby's head when used for heating.
- Direct released heat from air conditioners away from the baby, avoiding direct airflow.
- Avoid covering the baby's head with a cap or hat during sleep.
- Place the baby's bed away from external walls and windows.
- Choose breathable clothing for the baby and avoid tightly sealed thermal garments.
- Use lightweight and breathable blankets.
- If the baby's hands or feet feel very cold, consider covering them or extending the shirt sleeves with socks.
- Ventilate the room by slightly opening a window or using a fan, avoiding direct airflow towards the baby.
- Consider using an airy mattress that allows for air and fluid circulation, enabling the baby's body to regulate its temperature effectively.