You can feel that wintery nip in the air and the nights are starting to get colder. Soon it will be time to pack away the light summer bedding and unpack those thick, fluffy, warm duvets. You will also soon have to think about how to keep the baby warm in a crib.
As adults, we are able to control and regulate our body temperature much more effectively than small babies can. Their systems are not yet fully developed, and their internal ‘thermostat’, so to speak, is not terribly efficient at regulating body temperature.
In order for baby – and parents – to get a good night’s sleep, your precious little munchkin needs to be kept warm. But there is a fine balance between keeping comfortably warm and being too hot. So what can you do to keep the baby warm at night?
Should I Put My Baby In My Bed?
On those freezing cold nights, it may be very tempting to put your little sweetheart in your bed, all snuggled up next to you, to ensure that she keeps warm. This is not a good idea. If your baby has already been sleeping happily in her crib for a while, you will not want to rock the boat and encourage new habits that may be hard to break.
If the baby gets too comfortable in your bed, she will soon get used to it, and you will struggle to get her back to settling easily in her crib. The trick is to keep her comfortably warm in her crib so that she does not wake from the cold in the middle of the night.
Should I Cover My Baby With A Blanket?
Studies have shown that babies who are covered with thick blankets and duvets are at a higher risk of succumbing to SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. A small baby is unable to wriggle free if the blanket covers her face. It is not recommended to cover a baby with blankets or duvets, due to the risk of suffocation.
How Should I Dress My Baby On Cold Nights?
As the weather starts to cool down and the nights become chilly, you will need to dress your baby in sleepwear that is suitable for colder conditions. It is not a good idea to dress a baby in too many layers. This can lead to overheating. If you want to keep the baby warm in a crib, it is preferable to keep her room at an even temperature.
I always recommend an onesie made of warm, soft fabric. Onesies are great because they keep those tiny feet covered so that they stay warm. We all know the feeling of lying in bed with ice-cold feet. No matter how warm the rest of my body may be, if my feet are cold, I am so miserable that it is impossible to sleep.
Many onesies also have built-in ‘mittens’ that can be folded over baby’s little hands to keep them warm. These are very clever and, if you can find them, I highly recommend them. If you cannot get them, you might want to try covering the baby’s hands with soft cotton mittens to keep those little fingers warm.
Have you ever wondered why maternity wards always put a beanie or little hat on newborns? A very young baby loses a lot of heat through her head. You can help to keep the baby warm in her crib by keeping her head warm with a soft hat. It should be a well-fitting hat that cannot slide over her face or cover her nose and mouth.
While onesies are usually the best bet, I do not recommend putting the baby to sleep in a hooded onesie. The hood poses a danger of both strangulation and suffocation.
If you are not a fan of onesies, you should try to find pajamas that are soft and warm, and remember to put socks on those little feet. A word of caution with socks. Make sure that the elasticated band around the ankle is not too tight.
Also, check that there are no loose threads inside the sock, that can get twisted around those miniature toes, cutting off blood flow. This is a very dangerous situation that is often seen in hospital emergency rooms, when parents bring in a crying baby who cannot be consoled.
Does My Baby Need To Be Swaddled?
I am a firm believer in swaddling tiny infants. It keeps them warm and snug and makes them feel totally secure. There are many designs of baby swaddles on the market, and it is fine to use one of these. But it is also possible to swaddle a baby by wrapping her up tightly in a soft flannel receiving blanket.
For older, bigger babies, I love using a sleep sack. These are available in many fabrics and designs, but the basic idea is that it is a bag with holes for the head and arms. You zip up your baby in the bag, so that her whole body is warm and covered throughout the night, without the danger of a blanket covering her nose and mouth.
Should I Put A Heater In My Baby’s Room?
The ideal temperature for a baby to sleep comfortably is between 68°-73° Fahrenheit. If your baby’s room is a lot colder than this, she will be more likely to wake up frequently because she is cold. You should keep the room warm by using a heater, but always use only those heaters that are safety-approved.
I find that the best heaters are panel heaters that attach to the wall. These emit a gentle heat and are thermostatically controlled to maintain the heat at an even temperature. I also like the fact that they are attached to the wall. This makes them safer, because they are out of the way, cannot be toppled over and there are no hazardous loose electrical cords to trip over.
Where Should Baby’s Crib Be Positioned?
If you are using a heater, the baby’s crib should not be too close to the device. The crib and the heater should be at least 2 meters apart. Keep the baby’s crib away from any open windows, air vents or open doors. A draught blowing on the baby will make her very uncomfortable and she will start to feel cold.
Can I Use An Electric Heating Pad In Baby’s Crib?
If you are worried about how to keep the baby warm in a crib, you can warm the crib before putting the baby down to sleep. One of my favorite winter items is my electric blanket. I don’t sleep with it on all night, because of safety concerns, but I warm my bed before I get into it. There is nothing nicer than snuggling down into a warm and inviting bed.
You can give your baby that same cozy feeling by warming her crib before you put her in it. You can either do this with an electric heating pad, or you can place a hot water bottle in the crib for a few minutes. But please remember to switch off the heating pad and to remove the hot water bottle before putting the baby down.
There are numerous other items available to help keep babies warm in a crib. One can get soft toys with a kind of bean bag inside that can be heated in the microwave, and placed in the crib for warmth. I have also seen ‘hot water bottles’ that are heated by plugging into an electric socket for about 15 minutes to heat up. These are fine to use for warming the crib, but I do not advise leaving them in the crib with your baby.
How Can I Tell If Baby Is Warm Enough?
It is important to maintain your baby’s body temperature at a steady level. A healthy temperature is between 98°-100° Fahrenheit. If the baby is too cold, she may develop hypothermia, and become very lethargic and unable to feed.
Conversely, if she is too hot, she will be restless and uncomfortable and may start to dehydrate. High temperatures can also affect the functioning of the internal organs and can be very dangerous.
If you are worried that your sweet little pudding is not warm enough, feel her hands and feet. If they feel cold to your touch, she is possibly not warm enough. Another good guide is her little nose. If her nose feels cold, she probably needs to be in a warmer room..
On the other hand, if the baby’s face is a little flushed, gently feel her neck. If it feels very warm, or if it is damp and sweaty, it is time to lower the thermostat on the heater, or even open a window slightly.
It can be a little tricky trying to figure out just how warm or cool your baby’s room should be, but once you have found the right balance, you will know how to keep the baby warm in a crib and you should all be able to get a good night’s sleep.