How Can You Tell if Your Baby is Cold at Night?

By Carrie Bruno

December 27, 2019

Carrie is the founder of The Mama Coach. She is a RN, IBCLC lactation consultant, sleep consultant and mama of two little guys. She leads the North American team of Mama Coaches and is committed to making motherhood easier.

Overheating is a worry that many parents experience with their baby. Keeping your baby cool at night is one way that the American Academy of Pediatrics and Health Canada recommends to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Keeping this in mind, it is possible that babies can feel chilly at night, especially in the winter, and this will often present as frequent wake-ups and early risers.

Cold Hands and Feet

Feeling your baby’s hands and feet is not a reliable method for measuring body temperature in babies. Most babies will have cold hands because of their immature circulatory system. While they feel uncomfortable to parents, most babies are not bothered by cool paws while they’re sleeping. If you’re worried that they are uncomfortable, we recommend using a sleep sack that will cover their hands, like a Swaddlenot, or using a brand of sleepers that have the ability to fold over the hands. Mittens and socks on their hands are not recommended because babies can pull them off and obstruct their airway.

When you’re checking your baby for temperature, feel the back of baby’s neck. This is the most reliable method that parents can use without waking baby. You want to be able to touch their skin and notice that it’s not too warm or too cold, but rather is the temperature of the back of your hand. 

Check the room temperature

The ideal temperature for a baby’s room is between 19 and 21 degrees. Your baby should be sleeping in a cotton (or fleece if its cold outside) and a sleep sack based on the TOG recommendations. “TOG” is an international unit of measurement in the textile industry. Asleep sack with a low TOG value is best for hot climates or summer weather (similar to muslin) and 2.5 TOG is the warmest sleep sack you can purchase (recommended for cool climates and winter weather). Health Canada recommends avoiding loose blankets as this may increase the risks of SIDS.

Crib space

While your thermostat on your main floor may read 20 degrees, sometimes the room is actually cooler than this. In the winter months, there is often a draft from windows which decreases the temperature of the room and makes it hard to stay warm. Keep cribs on an inside wall if possible so baby isn’t chilled by the drafts of outside. Take note of the material of the bedsheets and mattress covers as plastic and nylon can be cold for new babies to sleep on. 

Beanie hats

Babies can lose up to 20% of their body heat through their head, especially under 6 months of age! Cotton “beanie” hats are safe for babies to wear at night and have light material that will avoid overheating your infant. Avoid hats with strings as these can become entangled around baby’s neck, and avoid hats that are classified as winter hats as these could be too warm for being indoors. 

 

Keeping your baby warm at night will help your baby to sleep more comfortably and avoid unnecessary wakeups. When you think about what it feels like to be chilly when you’re sleeping, it makes sense that babies will wake more often if the conditions for sleeping are too cold. The Mama Coach looks at your sleep environment with every assessment to ensure baby’s space is optimal for connecting sleep cycles. 

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