Once you have a child, you immediately realise that you should have slept more beforehand and a good night's sleep suddenly becomes a highly sought after yet rare event. And in your baby's first year, one of your primary goals is to get them to sleep longer and longer through the night.
So we swaddle and we sing. We give dream feeds and extra feeds. More solids, massages and warm baths - whatever it takes to get more of the elusive elixir that is sleep.
But often, one critical factor is either forgotten, misunderstood or not measured - the temperature of the room where your baby sleeps.
You see, as adults, we are easily able to understand how hot or cold we are and compensate for that without really even waking up, but our babies cannot. And in the bleary-eyed haze that is parenting and with so many other things to think of - are they hungry, are they wet, are they unwell - we often forget about room temperature.
Sure, we always check the baby - are they sweating or shivering? Are they red? Or blue? How do they feel? But this is often subjective and prone to bias from our own body temperature. And it tells us little about the air around us.
The National Sleep Foundation recognises the link between bedroom and body temperatures with good sleep habits and so maintaining their room temperature can make a significant difference to how soundly they rest.
What is the right room temperature for a baby?
"Anywhere between 16ºC and 20ºC is a good temperature for your baby, and around 18ºC is ideal," says Jennifer Ward, Head of Support and Development at The Lullaby Trust.
Which is probably cooler than you thought but it turns out that babies don't need hot rooms. In fact, all night heating of their room is rarely necessary and running heaters or air-conditioners throughout the night can cause the air in your baby's room to become too dry which can lead to coughing or dry skin.
So how can I tell if the room is too hot cold?
"Use a room thermometer so you can see the exact temperature in the room and keep an eye on it," says Jennifer.
At Hugs for Kids, our thermometer of choice is the Gro-egg, an innovative thermometer that not only displays a digital readout of the temperature but uses easy to understand colours to show you at a glance whether the room is too hot, too cold or just right, helping you keep a safe and comfortable sleeping environment for your child.
As an added bonus it even works well as a gentle night light.
The Gro-egg has four colour stages - Blue (too cold), Yellow (just right, Orange (warm) and Red (too hot). The colours act as a reminder for you to cool or heat the room, to modify the baby’s clothing or to use a different Sleep Bag or bedding.
Here's how it looks in a table:
|Too Cold||Just Right||Warm||Too Warm|
|Under 16°C||16–20°C||21–24°C||Over 24°C|
What can I do to keep the room at the right temperature?
If your Gro-egg is orange or red, the room is too warm. Open a door or window to allow air to flow. If you have access to a fan, use it (ensuring it is not within reach of or pointing directly at your baby). If you have access to an air-conditioner you can use this as well but be aware of the above-mentioned issue of drying out the room too much. If you have no ability to control the room temperature directly, you can adjust your baby's bedding or clothing. For more information on this in either hot or cold scenarios, please refer to this post.
If your Gro-egg is blue, the room is too cool. Ensure doors and windows are closed and that the room is draught-free. If you have a thermostatically controlled heater, use it (but be aware of not drying out the room or heating it above 18ºC). You can also put more layers on your baby or use an infant sleeping bag. Here at Hugs HQ, we have been saved many times by our kids Merino Sleeping Bags. Check out this post for a run down of this must-have item.
Making Nightime Easier
At the end of the day, parents have so many things to consider when dealing with the welfare of their child, that it's honestly nice to have some practical and useful items in our toolkit that can help us understand what's happening and make good decisions even in the dead of night. And this is exactly what the Gro-egg does. Even though our kids are no longer babies, we still use it because guess what, temperature affects us all at all times.
Knowing that your child's room temperature is taken care of can bring you peace of mind because it makes it easier to assess any issues and rectify them easily. Having one less thing to worry about means that when your baby does start sleeping through the night, you’ll be able to as well.