As the colder months come in, it can be difficult to know what temperature a baby should be. Whether it’s wondering what to set the thermostat to or what to dress your baby in, the most important thing is making sure they don’t get too hot or cold. This doesn’t just apply to the winter, it’s just as important in the summer to make sure your baby doesn’t overheat.
It can be hard to know how your baby is feeling as they cannot clearly communicate with you. However, we hope this guide makes it easier to find out if your baby is too hot or too cold. We’ll give advice on what temperature your baby’s room should be kept at as well as the clothes suitable for them.
What temperature should a baby be?
The most accurate way of getting your baby’s temperature when they are young is with a rectal reading. A normal temperature is between 98 and 100.3 degrees Fahrenheit. If you baby’s temperature is over this, it is considered as a fever and your baby should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
A fever can indicate signs of illness which is not smart to leave. Although it might just be a common cold, your baby is still developing during this time and may not be able to fight it off as well as you would. Speak to a paediatrician to find out what the best action is to take. Other signs that your baby is getting sick can be a cough or a runny nose.
If you would prefer to take your baby’s temperature another way, this is also fine. However, take into account that the reading may be off by 1 or 2 degrees. If you take your baby’s temperature from their underarm and it’s close to 100.3, you should consider also taking a rectal reading as it will clarify if your baby has a fever. Be extra cautious if your baby is 3 months old and gives a temperature reading of over 100.3, during these early stages, it’s very easy for your baby to start overheating very quickly.
Room Temperature for your baby
The first thing to do when it comes to working out if your baby’s room is the right temperature is to test it yourself. If you go into the room and it either feels too hot or too cold, it will definitely feel like this for your baby too. However, this isn’t an accurate way to make sure the temperature is correct in your baby’s room. After you’ve done this, it’s best to purchase a thermostat that you can put inside your baby’s room. Therefore, you’ll be sure of what the temperature is and can relax.
You can buy thermostats from supermarkets or online. They’re the best thing to guarantee a perfect temperature in your baby’s room. Speaking of the actual temperature, a good range to keep it in throughout the year is 68-72 degrees. There are risks that come with your baby’s room being too hot or cold. If the room is too hot, it can increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). If it’s too cold, it will make your baby feel very chilly and will interrupt their sleep routine.
68-72 degrees is a range you should stick in throughout the entire year. For example, if it’s winter, the temperature can be put up to 72 degrees whereas in the summer, it can be bought down to 68 degrees. This will keep your baby’s temperature at a normal stage.
Something to remember is to not put extra heaters in your baby’s room. This makes it a lot more difficult to control the temperature and can lead to your baby becoming too hot. If you feel that your baby’s room is too cold or it says this on the thermostat, you should increase the heating already in the room. However, if it’s a hot night and your baby’s room is getting too hot, fans are a great way to circulate the air. Just make sure that it doesn’t get too cold in the room to disturb your little one.
If you have a premature baby, it’s best to keep the heating up to around 72 degrees as babies born early can struggle to regulate their own temperature. This is something you should only do in the first few weeks after your baby is bought home. It can be changed as your baby begins to develop and regulate their own temperature.
It’s also important that premature babies do not get too cold. When this happens, their bodies use extra calories to try and warm themselves up. This can affect their weight gain and development.
Dressing your baby for different weather conditions
Whether it’s the winter or the middle of summer, there’s one rule to go on when dressing your baby – layers. Instead of throwing on a big, thick jumper or a super thin t-shirt, pair items together which will be easy to add or remove in the case that your baby gets too hot or cold. It may be freezing outside, but when you take your baby into a shop or restaurant, their temperature will increase extremely quickly because of the thick clothing they are dressed in. To combat this, dress your baby in a t-shirt, followed by a jumper or cardigan and maybe a coat, depending on how cold it is. This means that if you have to cool your baby down, it’s very easy to remove the layers.
An accessory that is great for both summer and winter is a hat. In the summer, a cap or sun hat can help keep the sun off of your baby’s head. Whereas in the winter, it can help your baby hold as much heat as possible. These are definitely items that you should have in your baby’s wardrobe.
The best thing to do is to just consider your baby’s outfit and how it will work in an outdoor and indoor setting. If you think that you’d get too hot in the outfit your baby is wearing, it’s probably best to put on something else.
When your baby no longer needs their winter clothes, it's important to store them away properly. Check out how to store baby clothes here.
TOG to help your baby's temperature
A TOG may be something that you’ve never heard of but can help you when dressing your baby for the warmer and cooler months. TOG is a measurement to find out how warm an item is. This isn’t only for clothing; it’s also measured on bedding. Depending on how high the TOG is will tell you how warm an item is.
For example, if an item of clothing has a TOG measurement of 1, this means the item is lighter, cooler and probably better suited for summer or layering in the winter. Items that are thicker or are knitted will have a higher TOG measurement.
You might struggle to find this on some items but can get a good idea if you look online. If you want to know what the average TOG measurement is for a knitted jumper, you can find this out easily online.
TOGs are really important and can give you an insight into whether your baby’s clothing will be too warm for them, or if it won’t keep them warm enough.
Keeping your baby the right temperature at bedtime
We’ve written a blog on what to dress your baby for bed with important information on different clothing. However, we’ve got some great tips for you here too.
No matter the time of year, you should always try and dress your baby in one layer. This can include bodysuits or sleeping sacks. However, if you are concerned that your baby is getting too cold, you can add an extra layer. This can include a long-sleeved top or some bottoms under your baby’s bodysuit.
If your baby is still very small and young, swaddling is a great way to keep them warm and safe at night. This involves wrapping the baby up in a thin material to help them sleep longer and stay warm. However, there are some things to think about when swaddling your baby, these are:
- Making sure the swaddle material isn’t too big. This can cause your baby to become tangled up and is a huge danger when you’re not with your baby.
- Don’t swaddle your baby once they can rollover. If they cannot move their arms to re-position themselves, this can increase the risk of suffocation.
- Don’t wrap it too tight. Make sure your baby is comfortable and is able to breath as normal. This can also have an impact on your baby’s hips if the swaddle is too tight.
- Lay them on their back. A baby should always be positioned on their back when they are in bed. If they are positioned on their side, this increases the risk of rolling over.
Accessories in bed - are they safe for your baby?
It’s recommended that you don’t put your baby to sleep in items that could potentially come off and increase the risk of going over your baby’s face. These items can include socks, hats and blankets. As your baby moves around during the night, these items can come off. It’s important to have no loose items or fabrics in the cot with your baby. Blankets are also a risk as your baby can become tangled up in them or they can cover your baby’s face.
However, sleep sacks or swaddles are great for bedtime. Just make sure they are wrapped correctly and secured. A lot of parents choose to use these items as it makes bedtime much easier.
My baby has a fever – what temperature should their room be?
If your baby has a fever, it doesn’t mean you should dramatically change the temperature of their room. This can actually make them more ill. As we mentioned earlier, keep the temperature of your baby’s room between 68 and 72 degrees, even when they are sick. It’s important to keep the temperature consistent.
Instead of turning the heating up or down, you can warm your baby up or cool them down by adding or removing layers. This is the more practical way of doing it as it works a lot quicker that changing the heating and your baby can still be cooled down very quickly if needed.
For example, dress your little one in lighter fabrics if they are experiencing a fever. Keep a constant eye on what their temperature is to make sure they’re not too hot or cold.
Signs that your baby's temperature is too hot or cold
If you are worried that your baby is too hot, you can check this by feeling their chest. If this is sweaty and hot, it’s a sign that your baby is too hot. However, if it feels cold to the touch, it’s a good idea to add a layer or two to your baby.
Other signs that your baby is too hot can include red cheeks, a clammy feel to their skin as well as faster breathing. Signs that they are too cold can be a blue tinge to their skin, cold hands and feet as well as more tired and less active.
Your baby feels the same as you
Most of the time, keeping your baby at a healthy temperature is simple. Go on how you feel. For example, if you’re going out and you need a jacket or coat, then put your baby in one too. The same applies for the summer. If it’s hot enough to wear shorts or a short-sleeved t-shirt, do the same for your baby.
By following the advice we’ve given you in this blog, your baby should be kept at a normal temperature at all times. However, if you’re still concerned or worried, contact a paediatrician for their advice. This also applies if you find that your baby is struggling to sleep in their room – it could come down to temperature.