What Temperature Should a Baby’s Room Be?

7 min read

Last Modified 21 March 2022 First Added 15 October 2019

By Leigh Horan

The best room temperature for a baby

The best baby room temperature is between 16-20 degrees Celsius or 61-68 degrees Fahrenheit. This can feel slightly chilly to some but has been proven to ensure safe and comfortable sleep for your child. As tempting as it is to swaddle your baby in a blanket and turn the thermostat up, a cooler room is much more beneficial.

First of all, it is essential to plan ahead and have some type of thermometer in your baby’s room to make it easier for you to keep the bedroom at the right temperature for babies. There are plenty of options available on the market that are multi-purpose. They can simultaneously work as night lights and change colour to alert you to whether the room is at the right baby sleeping temperature.

Why room temperature is important for your baby

Unlike adults, babies do not have full control over temperature regulation which means they are far more sensitive to room temperature as their bodies cannot adjust. Resultingly, when a room is too hot, babies struggle to regulate their core body temperature, resulting in poor quality sleep and even an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

However, babies need a room temperature that’s not too hot and not too cold for the same reason we do – to have a comfortable night’s sleep. A room that is too hot or too cold can disturb your baby’s sleep, and sleep is crucial for a baby’s development.  A 2011 study found sleep and baby growth to be temporally related processes meaning growth spurts not only occur during sleep but are also influenced by it. In terms of mental development, sleep allows babies to reinforce memories, neural maturation and learn about the intricacies of their environment.

If you’re interested in learning more about babies and sleep, see our post on babies’ sleeping patterns.

How to tell if a baby is too hot or too cold

One way to check whether a baby is too hot or too cold is to touch the back of their neck and see whether it is sweaty or cold to touch.

Signs a baby is too hot:

  • Sweaty skin and/or hair
  • Hot to touch (more than simply warm)
  • Flushed or red skin
  • Rapid breathing or heartrate
  • Restlessness

Signs a baby is too cold:

  • Their neck, tummy or back is cold (cooler arms, hands and feet is normal for a baby, it is their core temperature that is important)

How to achieve the perfect baby room temperature

  • Use the appropriate number of layers for the temperature
  • Using (and not using) heating
  • Embrace the open air
  • Keeping cool

One sign of achieving the perfect room temperature is that your baby sleeps soundly. Ever wondered what babies dream about?

1. Use the appropriate number of layers for the temperature

Whilst you should monitor the room’s temperature where your baby sleeps, it is not always easy to increase or decrease it, especially with rising energy bills. This is where dressing your baby becomes essential and also using your own personal judgment.

If you are too hot or cold, this gives a good indication of whether your baby is too. Simply add or remove items of clothing or bedding depending on the temperature.

  • Room temperature between 18-20 degrees: vest and bodysuit or gown
  • Lower temperatures: use a long-sleeve bodysuit and/or baby sleeping bag
  • High temperature (above 20 degrees): short-sleeve bodysuit
  • Very high temperature: your baby may not need any bedclothes other than a sheet.

Do not use hats to cover a baby’s head (as most of their temperature is lost through their head due to it being disproportionately larger compared to their bodies), and make sure any sheets or blankets are tucked below your baby’s shoulders.

2. Using (and not using) heating

Babies do not need hot rooms, and all-night heating is rarely necessary. Moreover, it is expensive when simple layering is just as effective. If the temperature is especially cold, resist the temptation to cover your baby in a blanket, as this can be dangerous if it wraps around them or covers their face.

Instead, you could use a baby sleeping bag or use thicker layers. Never put a hot water bottle or electric blanket in the cot. Baby’s limbs will usually feel cool, especially their feet and hands, and so long as their bodies and heads are comfortably warm, you don’t need to worry. However, if hands and feet look discoloured, this indicates that your child is too cold.

 

3. Embrace the open air

Perhaps the most simple solution for a hot bedroom is one we all turn to on a stifling night; opening the window. Not only does this allow cooler air to circulate, but it refreshes the room and the air that’s breathed in. However, though all parents are likely to be in the nursery every few hours, the weather can change very quickly. For this reason, if you intend to leave the window open, you should also plan to be in and out of the room regularly.

4. Keeping cool

To keep babies cool on hot summer days, a great option is to use fans. Fan use during sleep was associated with a 72% reduction in SIDS risk, according to a study in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, with the effect being even more substantial in adverse conditions such as higher temperatures. If where your baby sleeps has air conditioning, this is also an appropriate option.

In the case of an AC, it can renew and improve air quality so long as it is properly maintained and regulated. ACs and fans also make repetitive noises which often help get your child to sleep. However, ensure you keep your baby away from fans, air conditioning units and windows for safety purposes.

Keeping your baby safe and sound whilst sleeping

Whilst maintaining a Goldilocks room temperature helps with a baby’s sleep, there are also some other vital ways to keep your baby sleeping soundly at night:

  • Always place your baby on their back to sleep. If you notice your baby has turned face-down or sideways, gently pop them on their back again. Baby’s will begin to start doing this by themselves aged between 6-8 months.
  • Don’t cover or let your baby’s head become covered. Place the baby in the ‘feet to foot’ position to prevent them from moving under covers. Tuck any covers securely under your baby’s arms to stop them from becoming loose and covering the head during the night.
  •  Do not share a bed or sleep with a baby on a sofa or chair. The safest place for a baby is in a cot in the same room as you.
  • Choose the right mattress. The NHS advises using a firm, flat, well-fitting mattress, clean and waterproof on the outside. Our range of cot bed mattresses provides just that.

Summary

The right baby’s room temperature is between 16 and 20 degrees Celsius. This may feel quite cool to an adult, but it is appropriate because babies are far more sensitive to heat than adults. To ensure the room is at the right temperature, use a thermometer. If you don’t have one, make sure to check your baby doesn’t sweat while asleep. If they do, it’s a sign the room is too hot, increasing the chance of SIDS. On the other hand, if they feel cold on the back of their necks, this is a sign they are too cold and more layers are necessary.

If you have trouble with your baby’s sleeping temperature keeping them awake, then reading can help. See our Bedtime Story Finder, an online reading resource for parents containing a whole host of bedtime stories.

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