What is a safe room temperature for sleeping baby?

All parents worry about their babies getting too cold - it seems to be a primitive parenting instinct! But did you know being too hot can be problematic for your baby, too? Midwife Jane explains how to prepare a safe sleep environment for your baby when it comes to temperature.

sleeping baby 1

Melanie, the new mum of a gorgeous 4-month-old baby Hunter, recently called the Safe Sleep Line to ask what temperature she should keep their bedroom at night to keep Hunter comfortable and safe during his first Winter, as she was worried about him being too cold in his cot.

Many parents like Melanie come to us for reassurance about what is the ‘right’ temperature for baby.

The short answer is, there is no perfect temperature, and what is a safe temperature depends on many factors, including whether it is summer or winter or how baby is dressed.

However, we do know that overheating exposes babies to additional risk of sudden unexpected death, and we want to do whatever we can to reduce that risk.

So, how do you make sure you’re doing the right thing?

It’s a good question.

With a million baby products on the market promising to keep baby cool or to monitor or regulate temperature it’s easy for parents to think that common sense measures are not enough.

But the best way to protect baby from overheating is actually quite simple:

  • Face and head uncovered
  • Place baby on their back to sleep, and
  • Pay attention to how you dress baby for sleep and adjust according to whether it’s summer or winter, whether you have heating or cooling, or where your baby is sleeping.

A good rule of thumb is to aim to dress baby as you would dress yourself for the temperature – comfortably warm.

Now, I hear you asking:

How will I know if baby is ‘comfortably warm’ or not?

A good way to check baby’s temperature is to feel the baby’s back or tummy, which should feel warm to the touch (don’t worry if baby’s hands and feet feel cool, this is normal). If baby is showing signs of heat stress, such as flushed cheeks and sweating, remove some clothing.

Do I need a room thermometer?

Because they see room thermometers for sale, parents often think this means they must always maintain a specific room temperature in order to reduce the risk of SUDI.

To date, however, there is no evidence showing that maintaining a specific room temperature prevents sudden unexpected death in infancy.

Again, the most important protective factors from overheating are:

  • Face and head uncovered
  • Place baby on their back to sleep, and
  • Dressing baby appropriately for the room temperature (not over or under dressed)

So, I don’t need to leave the heating or cooling on all night?

No, as long as baby is dressed appropriately for the room temperature, you shouldn’t need to set the heating or cooling.

Check out our Safe Sleep Advice Hub for more information about safe sleeping, or you can ask our Safe Sleep Educators a question.

Last modified: 2/7/21