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Is my baby too hot or too cold for sleep?

Well the weather is a bit all over the place at the moment but it’s definitely becoming cooler at night and it won’t be too long now until winter is here. So it’s time to turn our attention to what our little ones need to wear to bed to ensure a blissful and safe night’s sleep. Like us, our little people need to be comfortably warm for a sound night’s sleep. Overheating has long been linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and being too cold can disturb a baby's sleep and inhibit weight gain.

All babies are different, just like adults. My husband sleeps in boxer shorts all year round whereas in cooler weather I'm in long pyjamas and a singlet with extra layers of bedding. I've found that my kids are also different - my son takes after me more and feels the cold, whereas my daughter runs hot and takes after her Daddy.

Is my baby too cold?

We lose body temperature through exposed body surfaces, this is called “radiated heat” by the Mayo Clinic. Basically, exposing your skin typically causes you to lose heat. Babies in particular CANNOT regulate their body temperature as well as an adult because:

1. babies have a high body-surface to weight ratio A baby's body surface is about three times greater than an adult's, relative to their weight, so they can lose heat rapidly - as much as four times quicker than adults.

2. babies don’t have the physical skill or mental awareness to self-regulate like adults do.

Your first instinct may be to check your baby’s hands and feet but this is not a good way to tell if your baby is too cold. This is because a baby’s hands and feet are often exposed and as such normally will feel cold! If your baby’s hands and feet are cold, this does not necessarily mean that your baby is too cold!

The best way to check your baby’s temperature is to feel your baby’s chest. Their chest should feel warm. A lot of development is happening in the core of newborns so blood is naturally diverted to this area.

When babies are cold, they use energy and oxygen to generate warmth. By keeping your baby at his or her optimal temperature, they can conserve energy and build up reserves. When your baby’s temperature is regulated and maintained, a baby is more relaxed, they sleep longer and gain weight. This is especially important when babies are sick, premature or of low birth weight.

Babies that behave like babies are more than likely not too cold. You should stay in tune with your baby’s behaviour. Is your baby eating, sleeping, crying, and being a normal baby? If so, your baby is more than likely fine but if you have any concerns then seek advice from a healthcare professional.

Is my baby too hot?

When dressing your baby for sleep, it's easy to get carried away in some instances and cause your baby to overheat, which is a serious threat to your baby’s health. Overheating a baby has been linked to an increased risk of SIDS . The signs of overheating in a newborn are easy to detect.

Touch your baby's head and neck to check for dampness, if your child is damp this is a sign that they’re sweating and they’re overheating. As advised, if your baby’s chest is warm this is also a sign that they’re too hot. You should also listen to your child's breathing, or watch the rise and fall of her chest. Rapid breathing is another sign of overheating. There is some suggestion that overheating could play a role in SIDS.  Put simply SIDS is the inability for a baby to wake when something else is going wrong physiologically. Studies have found that higher room temperatures makes it more difficult to rouse the baby therefore increasing the chance that your baby won’t wake if something is going wrong.

Gwen Dewar provides scientific discussion in her article “What is SIDS? An overview for the science-minded parent © 2009 -2014”.** It seems that the brain may have more trouble awakening when overly warm. A hotter room may mean that baby is less likely to arouse from sleep than lower temperature rooms.

The reason why you want to keep the room temperature lower is so your baby is able to wake and cry if something is indeed happening during sleep.

If your baby has any signs of overheating, remove some bedding or clothing. This may be necessary if your baby is unwell, in which case you should seek medical attention from a health care professional.

How can I make sure my baby is kept at the right temperature for sleep?

Babies control their temperature predominantly through their head and face*. Sleeping your baby on their back with the head and face uncovered is the best way to protect your baby from overheating. Once your baby is rolling, using a baby sleeping bag ensures they don’t become entangled in blankets and sheets, therefore minimising the risks of overheating and suffocation. A sleeveless baby sleeping bag allows for airflow through the arm holes.

It is not necessary to monitor the room temperature or to leave the heating on all night as long as the baby is dressed appropriately for the room temperature. Somewhere between 16-20⁰C is an optimal temperature.

As advised above, if your baby has any signs of overheating, remove some bedding or clothing. This may be necessary if your baby is unwell, in which case you should seek medical attention from a health care professional.

Remove baby's hat if you’re returning home and putting them straight to bed, even if it wakes them up. Never use electric blankets, wheat bags or hot water bottles for babies. Keep the baby's cot well away from heaters and radiators. Do not use cot bumpers as these prevent air flow.

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Newborns and babies not yet rolling independently can be swaddled for safety and comfort until their startle reflex settles down but definitely stop swaddling once they begin to roll from their back to their tummy.

Our Joey Pouch Swaddling Wrap is designed specifically for newborn babies. The Joey Pod Transitional Swaddle Bag can be used as a swaddle, one arm in one arm out or like a baby sleeping bag. Both the Joey Pouch and the Joey Pod are made from a beautiful light-weight 100% knitted cotton waffle fabric with natural give and can be used all year round. Every Joey Pouch and Joey Pod comes with a door hanging temperature guide. Just refer to the Temperature Guide for how to dress your baby depending on the temperature of baby's room:

Joey Pouch Temp Guide Cropped

 

 

Joey Pod Temp Guide Cropped

For cold nights, clothing underneath the swaddle can include 100% cotton/natural fibre singlets, vests or onesies, and your baby can be covered with blankets over the swaddle for extra warmth, adding another layer if your baby’s chest feels cool. Bear in mind that a swaddle is like a pouch or cocoon therefore a lightweight swaddle is recommended as you don't want to overheat your baby. Our Joey Pouch and Joey Pod and are made from light-weight 100% knitted cotton waffle and TOG/warmth rated at 0.5TOG. If you feel that your baby may be cold when swaddled then simply add a layer of clothing or a 100% cotton blanket over the top. It’s fine to use a blanket when baby is still swaddled as they’re not rolling around the cot.  Never put a beanie or head covering on a sleeping baby.

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A baby sleeping bag is a wearable blanket that maybe used once your baby has started rolling over independently or moving around the cot. Sleeping bags are a safe and convenient way to ensure your baby is dressed appropriately for bedtime. Most are TOG/warmth rated, like a duvet, doona or quilt. TOG is a European measure of thermal resistance relative to surface area - the higher the TOG rating the warmer the garment.

When choosing a suitably TOG rated sleeping bag for your baby you also need to consider the clothes your baby is wearing, the temperature of their bedroom and your baby's health. Baby sleeping bags padded with wool offer greater insulation without adding weight and bulkiness. Our Platinum Joey Swag baby sleeping bag range is made from 500 thread count organic cotton and is padded with Australian wool. We also have a standard range of Joey Swag baby sleeping bags made from 100% cotton fabric with the 2.5TOG and 3.5TOG padded with polyester. The guides below, for our Platinum AND Standard Joey Swag baby sleeping bag ranges, will help you dress your baby appropriately whatever the season:

Platinum Range - What to Wear guide

Platinum Swag Temp Guide

Standard Joey Swag Baby Sleeping Bag - What to Wear Guide

Joey Swag Door Hanging Temp Guide

All Bubbaroo Joey Swag Sleeping Bags have a front zip, ideal if your child moves around. All Joey Swags feature YKK brand two-way zip and a slit at the back closed with beautiful soft Velcro so all Joey Swags can easily be used with a 3 or 5 point harness of a car seat or pram/buggy.

Bubbaroo helps you and your baby to sleep better no matter what the temperature!

*Ref: Red Nose (formerly SIDS and Kids) Safe Sleeping. This program is based on scientific evidence and was developed by Australian SIDS researchers, paediatricians, pathologists, and child health experts with input from overseas experts in the field.

**http://www.parentingscience.com/what-is-SIDS.html#sthash.MC5nurUl.dpuf

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