Inside: Here are some easy tips to help you keep baby warm at night without jeopardizing their safety or overheating! Plus all of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for safe sleep.
And it’s an even bigger challenge when baby won’t fall asleep in between feedings. This could be due to multiple factors, but it’s often because they aren’t warm enough in their crib.
Babies are used to being nice and toasty in the womb and enjoy sleeping in a similar environment.
Here are some easy ways to keep your baby warm at night without overheating or jeopardizing their safety!
Safe Sleep Tips
Before you learn how to keep baby warm at night, you’ll want to make sure you’re creating a safe sleep environment for them even when it’s not cold.
The following are recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics for safe sleep and to help reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome):
- Back to sleep every time. To reduce the risk of SIDS, infants should be placed for sleep directly on their back for every sleep by every caregiver until the child reaches 1 year of age.
- Use a firm sleep surface. This means a crib, bassinet or portable playyard where the surface does not indent while the baby is laying on it.
- Breastfeeding is recommended and has been associated with a reduced risk of SIDS
- Infants should sleep in the parents’ room, close to the parents’ bed, ideally for the first year of life, but at least for the first 6 months. There is evidence that sleeping in the parents’ room but on a separate surface decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%.
- Bedsharing and co-sleeping should be avoided. Sometime’s the baby and mom will fall asleep if mom nurses in the bed. In that case, baby should be returned to their bed as soon as a parent wakes up and notices. However, there are certain circumstances which substantially increase the risk of SIDS and should be avoided at all cost:
- The baby is younger than 4 months.
- The baby was born preterm and/or with low birth weight.
- Anyone in the bed is a current smoker.
- Anyone in the bed is using sedating medications (eg, certain antidepressants, pain medications) or substances (eg, alcohol, illicit drugs).
- Anyone in the bed is not the infant’s parent, including nonparental caregivers and other children.
- You are sleeping on a soft surface, such as a waterbed, old mattress, sofa, couch, or armchair.
- Keep soft objects and loose bedding away from the infant’s sleep area to reduce the risk of SIDS, suffocation, entrapment, and strangulation. This means pillows and pillow-like toys, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, bumper pads, and loose bedding, such as blankets and nonfitted sheets. These soft items are perfect to decorate baby’s room with, but after you take pictures, it’s time to remove them from the crib.
- Consider offering a pacifier at nap time and bedtime. Although it’s unclear why, studies have reported a protective effect of pacifiers on the incidence of SIDS. However, pacifiers should not be hung around the infant’s neck and pacifiers that attach to infant clothing should not be used with sleeping infants. Pacifiers that have soft animals or “loveys” attached to them should not be used during sleep.
- Avoid overheating and head covering in infants.
- Do not use home cardiorespiratory monitors as a strategy to reduce the risk of SIDS. There is no data that other commercial devices that are designed to monitor infant vital signs reduce the risk of SIDS.
Other recommendations for parents during prenatal and postnatal from the AAP:
- Avoid smoke exposure during pregnancy and after birth.
- Avoid alcohol and illicit drug use during pregnancy and after birth.
- Pregnant women should obtain regular prenatal care.
- Infants should be immunized in accordance with recommendations of the AAP and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Supervised, awake tummy time is recommended.
Tips to Keep Baby Warm
Now that you’re familiar with how to create a safe sleep environment for your baby, the following are tips you can use to keep baby warm at night.
Experiment with the following methods and see which works best for your baby.
1. Set the proper temperature on your thermostat
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the ideal room temperature for sleeping is whatever an adult finds comfortable.
If you want a specific range for the right temperature for your baby, speak to your pediatrician who will be more familiar with your climate and weather.
Make sure baby’s window is sealed well and without a draft. This can dramatically impact the temperature in their individual room even if other rooms in the house are normal.
2. Layer baby’s clothing
Depending on the time of year, an extra layer of clothing may be all it takes to keep baby warm.
A good rule of thumb is to dress them in one more layer than how you would want to sleep at night. So if you plan on wearing a light pair of pajamas, your baby would probably be comfortable in footless pajamas and a thin swaddle.
3. Introduce a sleep sack
It’s always a good idea to swaddle your baby for naptime and sleep time. This helps them feel safe and snug like in the womb and is one of the best newborn baby hacks out there. Swaddles also keep their hands close to their sides which prevents the startle reflex.
For added warmth, you can also try a sleep sack or baby sleep suit. These work similarly to swaddles, but are more secure with the addition of Velcro tabs or zippers.
These make a great safe blanket option for baby to keep them warm in colder months.
4. Avoid blankets
The AAP is clear in not recommending any blankets for baby’s first year of life. This includes electric blankets and any other loose blanket that can cover baby’s head and obstruct their breathing.
Instead of using blankets, you can warm baby’s crib by placing a heating pad or warm water bottle where they will sleep while you give them their last feeding before bed. Always make sure to remove the heating pad or bottle before placing them down to sleep.
5. Use a safe space heater
If you can’t improve the temperature in your baby’s room with other methods or they don’t take well to a sleep sack, you can try using a space heater.
If you choose this option, make sure you follow these guidelines for fire safety:
- Don’t plug your space heater into a power strip. This can be a major fire hazard. Be sure to plug in directly to an outlet.
- Place the space heater away from your baby’s crib. These machines do a great job at heating a room and don’t not need to be close to the crib for good results.
- Make sure the model you purchase has an overheating sensor and shut-off feature in the event the space heater falls.
Take some time to sit in baby’s room with the heater to make sure it’s a comfortable and safe temperature. If you’re uncomfortable, they will be, too!
It can be hard to find the right balance of hot and cold for baby, especially because they have no way of communicating to us what their comfort level is. But here are some observations you can make to gauge whether your baby is cold.
If baby is too cold they may:
Have a cold torso,
Act fussy and refuse to eat and sleep.
Or, have sudden sneezing.
Feeling a baby’s hands and feet to see if they’re cold is often a poor way to measure their comfort level because they don’t have the same circulation as adults and their feet and hands are often exposed. Be sure to check their torso instead.
If you notice any of these symptoms, try adding a thin layer of clothing, sleep sack, or swaddle to warm them up.
Here are some observations you can make to gauge whether your baby is hot:
If baby is too hot they may:
Have flushed skin,
Exhibit a rapid heartbeat,
Or have a chest that is hot to the touch.
If you notice any of these symptoms, lower the thermostat, remove a layer of clothing, or take off their swaddle.
Here are even more helpful tips for the first time mom, including, must-have newborn items and the ultimate baby registry checklist, 3 first time mom books that are definitely worth a read, monthly baby photo ideas, first birthday party ideas, and more!