With temperatures on the rise in the UK this week, young children and parents could face a few sleepless nights until cooler weather arrives.
Here at The Sleep Sanctuary, I am seeing increasing enquiries from tired parents looking for advice on how to get their young children to sleep in the warm weather, whilst maintaining safe sleeping advice.
Here are my 8 top tips to keep your little ones cool enough to sleep
1. Room temperature
It is recommend keeping the room where your baby or child sleeps at a fairly cool temperature of 16-20°. This can be very difficult in summer months, particularly during a heat wave. Get a room thermometer so that you know what temperature you are dealing with. This will take away the guesswork and give you peace of mind that you have dressed your child suitably.
If the room where the child sleeps is difficult to cool, use lighter bedding and clothing and open the bedroom door and a window but only if it is safe to do so.
If you cannot keep your child cool in their own room, consider moving them to a cooler room in the house temporarily.
2 . Dress your child appropriately for the room temperature
If the room is very hot, for example over 25°C for most of the night, your baby may be fine in just a nappy and thin cotton vest. If the room is between 20°C to 23°C try a shortie baby grow, or short pyjamas, or just a nappy and a 1 tog baby sleep bag / slumbersac/ or grobag.
If your baby is too young for any kind of bedding and it is too hot for a sleep sack, simply dress them in suitable clothing for the room temperature so that no covering is required.
For slightly older children, dressing them in short pyjamas or just pants and a cotton vest works best.
Remember that the temperature may drop during the course of the night and to dress them appropriately for the whole night. Check-in on them as you go to bed and make sure that they are still dressed appropriately.
3. Use appropriate bedding
Use only cotton bed sheets and avoid any waterproof mattress covering, as this will hold heat and make your baby or child sweat.
Baby sleep bags or grobags will have guidance on what tog to use for each season. Ensure that you are using the correct one and that it still fits the child correctly.
4. Accurately check your child’s temperature
Hands and feet do get colder than the rest of the body so it is natural for these to feel a little colder to the touch. If you are unsure about your child’s temperature, feel the back of his neck or better still, use a child thermometer.
The increase in temperature can be a real worry for parents concerned not just about sleeping, but about their baby’s health in terms of overheating.
Newborns are at risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) if they overheat, so check your newborn regularly. If the face is redder than usual, or he has a rash or you notice rapid breathing, these could be signs of overheating and you should seek medical advice.
5. Create a breeze
During the day, open all windows on the same floor as the child’s bedroom to create a through-breeze, and pull the curtain two-thirds of the way across to block out the hot sun, but still allow the breeze through.
You might also like to use a fan to cool the room, but don’t aim it directly on the baby or child.
Give electric fans a helping hand. Electric fans will often just blow the warm air around so placing a large bottle of frozen water (1litre plus) in the baby’s room may help to cool the air that circulates the room overnight. Obviously, water and electricity are a potentially dangerous combination, so make sure they never come into contact with each other.
6. Try a quick, refreshing bath
A lukewarm bath or slightly cooler bath than usual might help to refresh your baby before bedtime and relieve any clamminess. Make it a quick bath so that he or she doesn’t get too chilly.
For older children, a cooler shower or a dip in a cool paddling pool before starting the bedtime routine may provide welcome relief!
7. Making sure they have enough fluids
When the weather is hot it is important to make sure that your child has plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
If bottle fed, babies over six weeks old can be given cooled boiled water. Try keeping a supply in the fridge so that it is readily available.
For babies over six months, cool water from the tap or cool bottled water is fine.
Fully breastfed babies don’t need any extra water until they start eating solid food.
8. Keep children calm
A calm child will remain cooler than a frustrated one, so try to maintain a calming bedtime routine and offer reassurance and comfort if they are agitated.
A cool flannel or cold compress dabbed gently on your child may help to cool and calm them, particularly if used on the wrists or forehead.
Addition warm weather tips – Keeping baby cool when out and about
Babies’ prams and buggies should not be covered with blankets, cloths or any cover that prevents the air circulating. Covering a pram or buggy with a blanket could lead to overheating, which increases the chance of SIDS. Using a cover also creates a barrier between parent and baby, which is slightly risky as parents won’t be able to see if their baby is having difficulties or to monitor their temperature easily.
It is recommend attaching a clip-on sunshade or parasol to a pram or buggy and checking if baby is getting too hot by feeling their tummy or the back of their neck.
Rachael at The Sleep Sanctuary
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