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Babies learn to communicate long before they learn to speak. Your baby will use crying and gestures with their body to try and communicate their needs to you.
For example, when babies are hungry they often put their hands in their mouth, turn their head towards your chest, or cry.
When babies are tired they may cry in a different way to when they are hungry and when they need their diaper changing they may wriggle around in discomfort.
It can take a while to work out what exactly it is that your baby wants, those early weeks of parenting are a huge learning curve for all new moms and dads. Learning your baby’s unique way of communicating will help to make parenting a lot easier and less stressful.
One need your baby will struggle to effectively tell you about is their need to be wrapped up warm or cooled down. As young babies can not regulate their own body temperature, parents are responsible for preventing their babies from getting too hot or too cold.
Many parents worry about the temperature of their baby’s nursery, they want to ensure it is the perfect temperature overnight so their baby can sleep comfortably.
Let’s take a look at how to tell if a baby is too cold at night when sleeping, the signs to look out for and what the ideal temperature of your baby’s nursery should be.
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What Is The Best Room Temperature For Baby?
Maintaining a safe room temperature is really important for the well-being of your baby, especially when they are sleeping overnight.
Overheating has been linked to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and if your baby gets too cold they can develop hypothermia, a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.
The recommended temperature for your baby’s nursery or any room they will be sleeping in is between 68°F and 72°F. The best way to decide if your baby’s room is too hot or too cold is to notice how you are feeling whilst in there.
If you feel too cold, your baby will likely feel too cold too. Keep in mind that your baby will be wearing layers and be either swaddled or wrapped in a blanket, but if the room is a comfortable temperature for you and is between 68 and 72°F, it should be fine for your baby too.
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What Is Normal Body Temperature For A Baby?
The best way to know if your baby’s body temperature has dropped too low is to check their temperature using a thermometer. In babies and children, the average body temperature ranges from 97.9°F to 99°F.
If your baby’s body temperature has dropped below 95°F they have got dangerously too cold and are at risk of developing hypothermia.
If you are worried about your baby being too cold at night while sleeping, you can try taking their temperature but there is a high chance you may wake them in the process.
We will delve into the different ways you can check if your baby is too cold at night later in this article, however, knowing the normal range for a baby’s body temperature is essential knowledge for all parents.
Will Baby Cry If Too Cold?
A baby’s main method of communication is crying. Babies cry when they are hungry, tired, have a tummy ache, need a poop, have a wet diaper and the list goes on. Babies cry a lot and not being at a comfortable temperature is just one of the many reasons why your little one may be upset.
If your baby is too cold or too hot they may cry because they are uncomfortable and need a change of temperature. However, crying alone is not always enough to know if your baby is too cold, you will need to check for other signs.
How Do I Know If Baby Is Cold At Night?
If you are worried your baby is cold, especially at night, there are some signs you can look out for. If your baby is sleeping, they won’t cry if they are too cold so it is important you check they are at a comfortable temperature.
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Feel their ears
If your baby is becoming too cold their ears will feel colder than normal to touch.
Blue lips and pale skin
Blue lips and skin that is paler than usual are both signs that your baby’s body temperature has dropped too low.
Feel their cheeks/stomach/back
Using the palm of your hand, gently touch your baby’s skin to test their temperature. If your baby’s skin feels cold then you will need to try and warm them up with extra blankets or layers of clothing.
Don’t judge temperature on hands/feet alone
It is easy to touch your baby’s hands while they are sleeping without waking them but the temperature of your little one’s extremities isn’t always a reliable indication of their overall temperature.
Babies do not have a developed circulation system and this can result in hands and feet that are cooler than the rest of their bodies.
Baby is less active than normal
If your baby’s body temperature is low, they will be using a lot of energy to keep their organs functioning at this cooler temperature. As your baby’s body is busy trying to keep everything working properly while they are cold, your baby may seem lethargic and less active than normal.
Checking your baby’s temperature overnight is important, especially if your baby is very young. Your baby can not regulate their own body temperature so you will need to be on the lookout for the above signs to make sure they do not get too cold while they are sleeping.
If you swaddle your baby at night you can still check if they are at a comfortable temperature by touching their cheeks and ears.
How Do I Make Sure My Baby Is Not Too Cold At Night?
There are several steps parents can take to keep their baby comfortable and at a safe temperature overnight. The time of year will influence the temperature of your baby’s nursery and their risk of getting too cold at night. Here is a list of steps you can take to stop your baby from getting too cold at night.
Check the room temperature
If the room your baby is sleeping in is below 68°F it is too cool and your baby is likely to feel cold while they are sleeping. If the room is too cold, close any open windows and either turn your heating up or dress your baby in more layers.
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Check your baby regularly
You don’t have to be up and down all night checking your baby’s temperature, but it is important to always have a general idea of how hot or cold your baby is.
Before you go to bed at night, check in on your baby and follow the advice above (touch skin, check the color of lips, etc), this will give you a good idea if your baby has got too cold while they have been sleeping.
Dress your baby appropriately
If it is winter or a cold night, dressing your baby in layers is an effective way of keeping them warm enough overnight.
You do not want your baby to overheat so don’t pile too many clothes and blankets on them, you just need enough layers to keep your baby at a comfortable temperature.
The general rule of thumb is you should dress your baby in one more layer than you would be comfortable sleeping in if you were spending the night in their room. If you would be comfortable in pajamas, you should dress your baby in a bodysuit and a sleepsuit, for example.
Swaddle or use a sleepsack
Babies can get cold at night if they kick off their blankets. You put your baby to bed wrapped up all snug, only for them to wake crying an hour later because they are cold and they have no blankets covering them – sound familiar?
To avoid this problem, why not try swaddling or using a sleepsack? Your baby can not take a swaddle off themselves and it is impossible for them to kick a sleepsack off.
If you notice your baby has got too cold while sleeping at night, you can put them in a sling for a little while. Wearing your baby in a sling or baby carrier will help them to regulate their body temperature as they are held close to your skin.
Babywearing can help your baby to warm back up to a safe and comfortable temperature and they will hopefully fall back to sleep and go back down in their crib with a normal body temperature.
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When Can Babies Regulate Their Own Temperature?
Keeping your baby at the correct temperature overnight while they are sleeping can be stressful for parents, especially as overheating has been linked to SIDS.
Whilst it is always important to keep your baby’s room at a safe temperature, babies will eventually learn to regulate their own body temperature as they grow and develop.
Babies can lose body heat up to four times quicker than adults and premature babies and babies with a low birth weight often struggle to maintain a normal body temperature as they have less body fat.
Babies can not regulate their body temperature in the same way as adults – shivering when cold and sweating when hot – and the ability to do so does not develop fully until your baby is between 18months and two years old.
The Final Thought
Keeping your baby from getting too cold at night while they are sleeping may seem like a tricky task at first. However, there are many steps you can take to ensure your baby stays at a comfortable temperature overnight and will help prevent them from getting too cold.
The normal body temperature for babies is between 97.9°F and 99°F. If your baby’s temperature drops below 97.9°F at any time, you must try warming them up, and if this fails you will need to contact your pediatrician or doctor for advice.