Overheating may increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in babies one month to one year of age. Many experts recommend that the temperature in the room where a baby’s sleeps be kept between 68–72°F (20–22.2°C). Although most bedrooms don’t have their own thermostats, an indoor thermometer can help you track the room temperature.
A good rule of thumb is to keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for a lightly clothed adult. If the room is too cold for you, it is too cold for your baby. If it is too warm for you, it is too warm for your baby.
Here are some tips to keep your baby safe and comfortable while he sleeps:
- Watch for signs of overheating. If you notice sweating, damp hair, flushed cheeks, heat rash, rapid breathing, and/or restless sleep, your baby may be too hot.
- Avoid over-bundling. Too many layers of clothing and covers (sleep sacks, swaddles, blankets) can cause your baby to overheat and increase his risk of SIDS. A sleep sack that zips onto your baby is a safe option if you feel an additional light layer is needed over his pajamas. Be particularly cautious if your baby is sick. Sick babies tend to have fevers, and added layers may further increase his body temperature.
- Keep cribs bare. Skip soft bedding or objects in your baby’s sleep space for at least the first year of life. This includes stuffed animals, blankets, pillows, comforters, and more. If you feel you must use a blanket, use a lightweight, breathable blanket and make sure it is tucked under the bottom of the mattress, extending no higher than the middle of your baby’s chest.
- Consider using a fan. The use of a fan in your baby’s room may reduce the risk of SIDS by circulating the air and lowering the baby’s risk of “re-breathing.” (This won’t make the room colder; fans do not cool the air but simply move it around. As long as your child is not perspiring, he won’t feel a chill.)
- Room together. Put your baby to sleep in close proximity to you for the first six months of life. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), this will help reduce his risk of SIDS. Many parents place their baby’s crib in their bedroom during this time.
- Back is best. The safest place for your baby to sleep is on his back. The AAP recommends that healthy infants be placed on their backs for sleep during the first year of life. However, it's especially important during the first six months when the incidence of SIDS is highest.