The ideal room temperature for your baby is cooler than you’d expect
By Cradlewise Staff
Creating a comfortable and safe sleeping environment for our little ones is a top priority. The first thing that usually comes to mind for safe sleep guidelines is placing your baby on their back, alone in a crib with a firm, flat mattress. (Minus any blankets, bumpers, or toys.) But you might be surprised to learn just how vital a role baby’s room temperature plays in keeping them healthy and improving their sleep quality.
Thermoregulation is the ability to adapt your core body temperature to external temperature. Babies cannot thermoregulate their temperature like adults since their nervous system is still developing.
Imagine yourself sleeping in a room that is too hot or too cold. You will likely experience discomfort, frequent wakings, and lower sleep quality. The same principle applies to your baby as well, except they can’t remove clothes or add a blanket to help them keep warm.
Here are some helpful sleep temperature guidelines to follow to let you (and your little one) rest easier, including how to check if they are overheated or chilly and what they should wear to bed.
What is the ideal temperature for a sleeping baby?
You may want your baby to feel secure and, therefore, be inclined to crank up the thermostat. But this might actually not help your baby. Maintaining a safe and optimal sleeping temperature is crucial because it diminishes the risk of overheating.
Dr. Anna Cornish, Medical Director, Ambulatory General Pediatrics, Staten Island University Hospital, Northwell Health, says, “Many parents believe that infants need to be kept extra warm and bundled at all times. These factors may raise an infant’s body temperature to levels that interfere with the brain’s ability to control temperatures and breathing, contributing to an increased risk of SIDS.”
The trick to maintaining an optimal sleeping temperature for your baby to sleep needs to work on the Goldilocks principle. The room should not be too hot or cold. Try to find a sweet spot in the middle.
The ideal, optimal sleeping temperature can be between 68℉ to 72℉. Although this is the optimal range, it can still vary slightly with each baby.
You can monitor your home temperature on your thermostat. But this isn’t always accurate since the temperature in each room might vary. So you may want to consider investing in an indoor thermometer to measure your baby’s room temperature.
How can I check if my baby is feeling too hot or cold?
Each baby is different. You can always check if your baby is comfortable with the temperature by feeling the nape of their neck or tummy.
Your baby’s core temperature will be slightly warmer than their hands and feet since they cannot thermoregulate quickly. So checking their hands and feet might not give an accurate reading.
How to know if baby is overheating?
Here are the signs of overheating in babies:
- flushed cheeks
- rapid breathing
In this case, remove a layer of clothing and lower your baby’s room temperature or take them to a cooler room.
It is also recommended to give your baby fluids to avoid overheating. You can either opt for breast milk or formula if your baby is six months or younger, as opposed to water.
If your baby does not show signs of improvement, contact your pediatrician.
Conversely, if your baby appears pale or lethargic, it might be a sign that they are chilly. In this case, try to add one more soft and breathable layer of clothing.
How should I dress my baby for bed?
The key to dressing your baby for sleep is layers. Add one extra layer compared to what you are wearing. Depending on the climate and external temperature, you can easily add or remove layers.
During sweltering summer months, dress your baby in cotton pajamas plus a light and breathable sleep sack. Use a fan to help circulate air.
On chilly winter nights, add an extra layer like a long-sleeved onesie plus a thicker yet breathable sleep sack to help your baby sleep better. In this case, make sure to not use space heaters or over bundle your baby with blankets.
Sami Amundsen, a registered nurse, and co-founder of Birth Halo, tells us that “the most common mistake I see is overdressing an infant. In general, infants should be dressed appropriately for the environment, with no greater than one layer more than an adult would wear to be comfortable in that environment.”
Amundsen also advises against head coverings for babies older than four months. “It’s important to help maintain a newborn’s temperature with head coverings (and skin-to-skin) in the first weeks to maintain a temperature above 97.9. However, after the delicate newborn stage, using a head covering during sleep is a major modifiable risk factor associated with SIDS.”
How do I dress my baby for sleep when they have a fever?
If your little one is unwell and has a fever, the last thing you want to do is bundle them up in more clothing since this would increase your baby’s temperature. 🤒 Dressing them in as few layers as possible is recommended to help reduce the body temperature.
(Tip: Rectal temperature is the most accurate means of taking your baby’s temperature if they are three months or younger. If they have a rectal temperature of 100.4℉ or higher and an armpit temperature of 99℉ or higher, it is considered a fever.)
Tips for keeping your baby comfortable during sleep
Some key takeaways and tips for maintaining optimal sleeping temperature levels for your baby include:
- Check for signs of overheating
Make sure that your baby does not sweat or breathe rapidly. Feel the nape of their necks or belly to determine if they are comfortable or not.
- Avoid over-bundling
Always opt for one extra layer of clothing than what you wear to bed. Avoid wrapping up your baby with blankets.
- Use a fan
You can use a fan to circulate the air and cool down the temperature. But make sure to not place the fan directly over your baby’s crib. Instead, point them upwards or in the opposite direction for safe use.
- Consider room sharing
Studies have shown that room sharing with separate beds reduces the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%. The exact reason is unknown but it enables parents to check on their babies intermittently and respond quickly in case of any emergency. The AAP recommends sharing a room with your baby (but not bed-sharing), ideally for six months to one year.
We designed Cradlewise to be easily portable to any room in your home. When your little one is ready to transition to sleeping solo in their own nursery, carefully drag the crib across your carpet or wooden floor. It won’t leave any scratch marks (thanks to nylon bushes underneath its legs).
The bottom line
Trust your parental instincts on how your baby might feel in the room. As long as your little one is dressed appropriately for bed in a cooler temperature (ideally 68℉ to 72℉), then don’t feel the need to overdo it with the thermostat or bundle them with cozy blankets.
Q: Is 75 degrees too hot for a baby to sleep?
A: According to most pediatricians, your baby’s ideal room is between 68 to 72 degrees. However, if you’re living in a very hot climate, then temperatures of up to 75 degrees are acceptable.
Q: What room temperature is too cold for a baby?
A: As advised, 68 degrees is the ideal low temperature for your baby’s room.
Q: Do babies sleep better in a cold or warm room?
A: Since it is easier for babies to lose body heat, they tend to sleep better in a comfortably cool room.
- Safe sleep guidelines. AAP Publications. 2016. “SIDS and other sleep-related infant death: Updated 2016 recommendations for a safe infant sleeping environment”
- Avoid overheating the room. NCBI. 2009. “SIDS“
- Avoid over-bundling. Jama Network. 2002. “Risk factors for sudden infant death syndrome among Northern Plains Indians“
- Room sharing reduces the risk of SIDS. The Journal of Pediatrics. 2005. “Bedsharing, room sharing, and sudden infant death syndrome in Scotland: A case-control study“
- AAP recommends room-sharing without bed-sharing. AAP Publications. 2016. “SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths: Updated 2016 recommendations for a safe sleeping environment“