When the temperature rises it can be really tough for everyone to get to sleep, but especially for babies and young children, who are often heading to bed while the sun is still hot.
I always see increased queries from tired parent in the warm weather, asking how they can help their hot and tired baby or young child to get to sleep.
So here are my 10 top tips for helping children sleep in the heat.
1. Room temperature
The recommended temperature for a child’s room is a fairly cool 16-20°C which can be really tricky to achieve in the summer months, particularly during a heat wave.
Make sure that you have 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.
If you cannot keep your child cool in their own room, consider moving them to a cooler room in the house temporarily.
2. Create a breeze
During the day, open all windows on the same floor as your child’s bedroom to create a through-breeze. Close curtains or drop blinds two-thirds of the way to block out the sun.
Once the temperature rises outside, close the windows and the curtains or you will be letting the hot air into the house. Then when the air temperature starts to fall again, you can reopen the windows to circulate cooler air.
3. Use a fan
Try using a fan or air cooler on an oscillating setting to move the air around the room, but don’t aim it directly on your baby or child.
Some electric fans just blow warm air around, so try place a large bottle of frozen water (1litre plus) in front of the fan to cool the circulating air. Take care not to let the water bottle or electric fan come into contact though.
4. Dress for the temperature
Make sure that you dress your child according to the temperature in their bedroom.
If the room is very hot (over 27°C) your baby will be fine wearing just a nappy. Between 25°C to 27°C dress your baby in a nappy and a short sleeve bodysuit. And if the room is between 21°C to 23°C, try thin pyjamas or a thin baby grow with a 0.5 tog sleeping bag.
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 out this handy graphic from my friends at Baby College UK
5. Use appropriate bedding
Try to use only cotton bed sheets and avoid any waterproof mattress covering, as this will hold heat and make your child sweat.
Baby sleep bags will have guidance on what tog to use for each season which go as low as 0.5 tog. Ensure that you are using the correct one and that it still fits your child correctly.
6. A 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 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. Watch fluid intake
Preventing dehydration is very important in hot weather, keep an eye on how much fluids your little one is taking.
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.
8. Accurately check temperature
Hands and feet do get colder than the rest of the body so it is natural for these extremities to feel a little colder to the touch. If you are unsure about your child’s temperature, feel the back of his neck or chest, or better still, use a child thermometer.
Newborns can be at risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) if they overheat, so check your newborn regularly. If their face is redder than usual, or if they have a rash or rapid breathing, these could be signs of overheating and you should seek immediate medical advice.
9. Keep 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.
10. Cool naps
When settling your child for daytime naps in the heat, think about how hot they will get.
Never cover your baby’s pram or seat with a blanket, cloth, muslin or other covering. These covers actually prevent the air from circulating and dramatically increase the temperature, which can increase the risk or overheating and SIDS in young babies.
Pram or car seat coverings also create a barrier between you and your baby, which means that you might not be able to see if your baby is having difficulty or overheating.
Instead use a clip-on sunshade or parasol and regularly check if your baby is getting too hot by feeling their tummy or the back of their neck.
So there you have my top 10 tips for helping babies or children sleep in hot weather. It’s really helpful to prepare in advance so that you’re not scrabbling around for everything you need last minute.
If your child is having sleep challenges, check out the range of free sleep advice on The Sleep Sanctuary website or Facebook page. And if you need some support to create and implement a gentle sleep plan, you can book a Free Introductory Call with the Sleep Sanctuary here
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