Too hot or too cold? 6 tips to keep your little one warm in winter

Trying to figure out whether your little one is warm enough but not too hot can be really stressful in winter.

You want to keep them toasty warm, but you know the dangers of overheating and its links to SIDS.

A baby’s body surface is about three times greater than ours, relative to weight. This means babies can lose heat really fast. What’s more, newborn babies in particular can’t regulate their body temperature. It’s up to us do it for them, and that’s hard.

It can feel like you’re constantly second guessing yourself, removing and adding layers and worrying: are they too hot? Too cold? How can you ever be sure?

Here’s 6 baby health tips to help you keep your baby warm and safe this winter:

1. The ideal room temperature for babies

SIDS and Kids doesn’t recommend a specific room temperature, but they do emphasise that babies regulate their body temperature through their face. So it’s essential your baby’s face is never covered (and of course they should sleep on their backs). Read more in this fact sheet on room temperature from SIDs and Kids.

However, who needs hard data for decisions like this, aim for a room temperature of between 16 and 20 degrees C, with 18 degrees as the sweet spot.

That way, you can also get a room thermometer to prevent any uncertainty – and reduce arguments about whether baby’s room is too hot or cold.

2. Feel their tummy to check if they’re too hot or cold

A quick and easy way to check if your baby is warm enough is to simply feel their skin. Don’t bother feeling their hands or feet, they will be usually be a bit cold. Try to feel their tummy or chest (but remember to warm up your cold hands first!)

3. Use a TOG sleeping bag

For sleep-time, use a sleeping bag rather than a blanket. These usually come with TOG ratings that tells you which thickness to use for which temperature.

All your baby needs underneath is a cotton sleepsuit. You’ll probably feel that a little cotton suit and thin sleeping bag isn’t enough in an 18 degree room, but it is. Us grownups have become accustomed to sleeping with two doonas and an electric blanket, but your baby doesn’t need anything like that.

4. Use breathable clothing

Cotton is best – organic cotton if possible. Try to avoid synthetics such as polyesters. These might seem cost-effective but you’ll pay for them in terms of your baby’s discomfort and your stress levels.

5. Add an extra layer when out and about

Your baby generally needs one extra layer of clothing than you do when outside. A very active toddler running around at the park might need less.

However, if you’re walking outside with your little one in the pram, remember that you’re moving and they’re not. The windchill factor can be high in an uncovered pram, especially if you’re powerwalking or jogging. And it can be hard to keep blankets tucked in around squirming babies or toddlers.

So use extra layers that are easy to remove when you’re coming in and out a lot, such as walking to a shop or café. An extra jacket and hat is easier to slip on and off than a thick onesie.

Always use a hat to cover their head when outside in winter. Babies and young children lose a lot of heat through their heads. But remember to remove the hat when you go inside a warm room.

6. Change wet clothes quickly

Be extra vigilant for that nappy that’s leaked through. Even toddlers often don’t notice, and don’t care, if they’re wet. But wet clothes can mean the cold comes right through to their skin. Always keep a full change of clothes in your bag when you’re out, even if you’re just popping around the corner to the shop.

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