The perks to caring for a newborn in the summer are numerous: longer days, more sunlight, no bulky layers and a better chance of escaping the house — even if you only make it to the porch. But in homes without air conditioning, hot summer days also come with the curse of sweaty naps and nights.
“If you have a baby whose sleep environment is too warm, whether from overbundling or a high ambient temperature, it may contribute to the underlying predisposing cause of sudden infant death syndrome,” says Denis Leduc, co-author of the Canadian Paediatric Society’s most recent statement on SIDS and sleep environments.
Link between overheating and SIDS
Leduc says that scientists are still trying to understand whether overheating alone is a risk factor for SIDS, or if overheating becomes a problem in combination with other dangerous sleep practices. According to the journal Pediatrics, the risk of SIDS may increase when combined with overheating, bed sharing, putting a baby to sleep on his or her stomach and overbundling.
How to keep it cool
Leduc, who is also an associate professor of Paediatrics at McGill University Health Centre, says parents should keep the baby’s room temperature between 18 and 20°C, and remember that babies need one more layer of clothing than you do. (As an example, if you like sleeping in a T-shirt but no sheets, dress your baby in a onesie and a light sleep sack.)
Fans are safe, but don’t aim them directly at the baby, he adds.
Swaddling is fine in warm weather, but never place the baby on his stomach while swaddled, and be sure to wrap him properly — a too-tight swaddle could restrict his breathing.
Checked behind his or her neck for moisture, an indicator a baby is too warm.