A baby’s body is fragile in many ways. One of the consequences of this is that, until they are much older, newborns, infants and toddlers are not able to keep themselves warm.
With lower body fat, a reduced capacity to shiver and the inability to tell anyone when they’re cold, parents must be extremely vigilant that they don’t get too cold.
Further to this, it’s often at night when babies get the coldest, when temperatures drop and the heating is turned off. At these times, they can then lose heat much more quickly causing them to wake up or potentially catch a cold.
In this post, we explore some of the fundamentals of how to keep your baby warm at night so they stay healthy and happy, no matter how cold it is outside.
It’s often at night when babies get the coldest, when temperatures drop and the heating is turned off.
1. Follow Best Practices for Bedtime Clothing
Dressing your child in an additional later than you would be comfortable wearing at night is a good general rule to follow.
This applies to both cold and warm weather. Why? Because it compensates for the lack of covers that you would normally rely on to keep your body at a comfortable temperature.
Babies find it hard to produce enough energy to warm themselves back up after getting cold, so you also want to try and lock in as much heat as possible by covering their hands and feet. This is why all-in-one outfits and baby sleepsuits work so well.
Just make sure you’re using fabrics that are still breathable and won’t cause your baby to overheat, which, according to health organizations like the AAP, is a common problem during winter months when anxious parents resort to over-bundling and wrapping, which can be just as dangerous as not keeping your baby warm enough.
For a better understanding of baby clothing options, consider reading our guide: The Ultimate Guide to Buying Baby Clothes Online
2. Adjust Your Baby’s Room Temperature
Before you start to panic about making sure your baby’s room is as toasty as possible, keep in mind that babies, similar to adults, sleep better when they’re cooler. While “warm” is good, “hot” is definitely not.
With this in mind, see what you can do about regulating the room’s temperature so it sits somewhere between 68° and 72°F (20 to 22 °C). Depending on where you live, you might have to adjust your thermostat more or less to make sure that at no point during the night it falls too low.
If it’s easier, consider what temperatures that you and your family are comfortable in as a basis for making any changes. If you start to feel a bit chilly, your baby will feel the same. If you’re hot, yep, they’ll be hot too!
If you’re still concerned about this and want to know exactly what temperature to keep your home at, you can consider speaking with a pediatrician in your home town or city, who might have some more advice based on knowledge of your local climate.
While “warm” is good, “hot” is definitely not!
3. Choose Winter-Proof Clothing Options
As blankets and any loose objects are dangerous for your babies, you’ll need to think of other ways to keep your baby warm at night.
Swaddling During Winter
Swaddling is probably the most popular way to dress a baby at night, with parents across the planet using this method to keep their little ones snug and warm.
You can use many lightweight and breathable pieces of fabric to fashion a swaddle, however, cotton or synthetic blends are recommended for both practicality and function.
Parents can also choose premade swaddle wraps like our Zippy Swaddle to make sure there is always something on-hand and baby-suitable.
Babies older than 2 months should not be swaddled according to the CDC and other health organizations.
This is because the risk of SIDS and hip dysplasia increases when more developed baby’s are wrapped up tightly in the swaddle, stopping their bones from developing naturally and preventing them from moving more freely when their muscles are strong enough.
For this stage, parents can choose from a whole range of sleep sacks, sleeping bags, one-pieces and pajamas. For instance, we offer the Zipadee-Zip garment at Sleeping Baby as our ultimate clothing item for parents who want their children to be warm, comfortable and healthy from 2 months to 2 years!
No Blankets or Bedding
You might initially think winter-proofing your child’s crib involves filling it with plenty of soft, warm, and cuddly items that they can cozy up with. However, the AAP recommends that all accessories and bedding should be left out of the crib until your child is 12 months or older. This includes:
- Toys (including stuffed animals)
- Crib bumpers
- Sleep wedges and sleep positioners
- Anything that attaches to crib slats/sides
4. Choose Warm (but Breathable) Materials for Pajamas and Sleep Sacks
When choosing baby clothing garments, look for fabrics that are breathable enough that your baby doesn’t overheat, but also warm enough so they retain a good temperature throughout the night. When wondering how to keep your baby warm at night with the right material, a solid go-to will always be cotton, which is both practical and affordable.
If you’re living in a very cold climate, you might want to look for something a bit more “serious” like wool or fleece.
This is fine, but just make sure that it’s made by a credible baby clothing company and still allows your baby’s skin to breathe. You must also check that any harsh woolen materials don’t irritate your baby’s skin.
At Sleeping Baby, we have a whole fleece range for parents who want to guarantee their children are always toasty in the coldest of months and in the chilliest of places.
5. Check Your Baby’s Temperature
A normal temperature for babies and children is about 77°F (36°C) according to the NHS and other health organizations around the world. Similarly a high temperature or fever is usually considered to be a temperature of 100°F (38°C) or above.
While you don’t need to actually check your baby’s temperature every night with a thermometer, it’s wise to do this during more extreme weather conditions and if you notice signs that they are too cold or hot.
- Keep an eye out for shaking, shivering, and/or red or grayish-colored skin which suggests your child is too cold and needs something warmer to wear, or for you to increase the temperature of your home.
- Also check that your child does not have a sweaty brow, wet hair, red cheeks, and quickened breath and that they don’t have a rash or are acting overly fussy for no particular reason, which might suggest your baby is overheating. If this is the case, try removing a layer or letting some cooler air into your home.
Feeling your baby’s neck, chest or stomach with your bare hand can also be a good indicator of how hot or cold they are. If their overall temperature feels drastically different to your own, you might want to do some adjusting to their clothes or room temperature.
Keep an eye out for shaking, shivering, and/or red or grayish-colored skin.
6. Watch Out for Wet and Damp!
While you should always be on the lookout for dampness inside your home, you must also be careful of other kinds of wetness and dampness that might enter your child’s crib or clothing.
When moisture is present in clothing (including sweat), the thermal and evaporative qualities of the clothing are reduced. This means that your baby may begin to feel cold more quickly and will be required to use more energy to stay warm.
This can happen if your baby has just had a bath and their clothes are still wet or if, somehow, a drink has been spilled into their crib.
7. Don’t Forget Winter Safety Tips
When figuring out how to keep a baby warm at night, don’t forget to follow the fundamentals of safe baby sleep too. Below are some important practices to integrate into your strategy for winter.
- Always place your baby on their back to sleep
- Don't place any accessories or blankets in the crib to keep your baby warm at night. This increases the risk of SIDS and overheating
When possible, sleep in the same room as your child, especially for newborns. This lets you keep an eye on them as well as discover when temperatures drop to lower levels that might require you to add another layer to your baby or adjust the thermostat in your home. According to the AAP, room sharing can reduce a baby’s risk of SIDS by up to 50 percent.
Keeping Yourself Warm at Night Too!
Finally, our parting suggestion is to make sure that you also ensure you keep yourself warm at night and look after yourself in all the same ways you do your baby.
Making sure you, as a parent, are warm and comfortable enough to get better sleep at night will benefit your baby and keep you from getting sick. Winter often presents many challenges and obstacles and arming both you and your little one with the right tools to sleep at night is a good defence against burn out, sickness and anything else that poses a threat during colder months