This article was expert reviewed by Raina Cordell R.N./R.H.N.
Since babies can’t communicate that they’re too hot or too cold, it’s up to their caregivers to make sure they are comfortable and safe.
Some new parents may believe that the more bundled, the better, but often the opposite is true. In fact, the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) can increase when a newborn is too hot or too bundled up.
There are other safety and comfort concerns to consider when finding the optimal temperature for your baby’s room, so in this article, we’ll share expert tips and science-backed research to help you find that perfect temperature – even when the weather makes this a challenge.
Ideal Temperature for Baby’s Room
According to Cleveland Clinic1, babies should sleep in rooms between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, which is equivalent to 18-21 degrees Celsius. If you sleep in the same room as your baby, this can work out well for both of you since the recommended sleeping temperature for adults is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.1 A good compromise might be setting the thermostat to about 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
If the bedroom your infant sleeps in doesn’t have a thermostat, you can use a portable indoor thermometer to keep track of how warm or cool the room is.
In general, babies and toddlers adjust to the room temperature2, just like adults do, but they lose heat more rapidly. This quick heat loss is especially true of newborn, premature, and low-birth-weight babies.2 This means, that if you feel cold in a room, your newborn will likely feel even colder and will need an extra layer.
Tips to Keep Your Baby Comfortable
Watch for Overheating
Oftentimes, caregivers first check a baby’s hands and feet to gauge their temperature, however, this isn’t always the most accurate means of assessment.
Instead, try placing your hands on their head or stomach to see if they feel warm. In this case, you’re checking to see if your baby feels warm, rather than if they have a fever due to illness. Feeling overheated and having a fever aren’t the same3.
Some signs your infant is feeling overheated include extreme fatigue or drowsiness, a flushed face, heat rash, disinterest in eating or drinking, or sweating4.
Additionally, your child may seem extra fussy5 even if they’ve eaten and there are no required diaper changes. They may just feel uncomfortably hot and need your help cooling off.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, over-bundling, overdressing, or covering your infant’s face or head can increase their risk of sudden infant death syndrome.2
SIDS6 can result from suffocation, which is why it is recommended that you don’t leave extra blankets or toys in a new baby’s bed, and it can also result from being overheated. So instead of bundling your baby like a burrito, consider a lightweight sleep sack to keep them cozy, and when the weather is cold, dress them in warmer layers of clothing, rather than wrapping them in blankets6.
If your baby is sick, opt for fewer rather than more layers7 since their body temperature is already elevated, and they need to be able to cool off slightly rather than raise their temperature further.
Keep Cribs Bare
Avoid cluttering your baby’s crib with pillows, toys, and stuffed animals. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting for at least one year8 before adding these items to your baby’s bed to help reduce the risk of SIDS. If your baby is too cold in chilly climates and colder seasons, you can dress them in warmer layers or opt for a thicker sleep sack designed for cooler temperatures.
Use a Fan
While a fan won’t dramatically decrease the temperature in the room, it does circulate oxygen. A fan can also freshen up the air in the room, allowing your toddler to get better airflow rather than rebreathing stagnant air.
According to Nationwide Children’s Hospital9, running a fan in an infant’s room at night can lower their risk for SIDS by up to 72 percent.
View Our Full Guide: Best Fans for Sleeping
Share a Room
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)10 recommends sharing a room with your infant during their first six months of life. Not only does this reduce their chance of SIDS but it also allows you to closely monitor your infant’s temperature. This way, you can get a better idea of whether they sleep hot or “normal.”
To facilitate this co-sleeping arrangement, consider moving the crib or bassinet into your bedroom and placing it near your bed.
Learn More: Safe Co-Sleeping Guidelines
While tummy time11 is crucial for development, the AAP suggests that you always place your baby on their back before bed to reduce SIDS and allow air circulation around their face.10 Once they can easily turn from their back onto their stomach and return onto their back on their own, experts12 say it is generally safe to let them do so. However, when babies are too young and weak to do this, keeping them sleeping on their backs will be the safest position.
How to Check if Your Baby Is Too Cold
We’ve talked a lot about a baby being too hot, but so far, we haven’t talked much about them being too cold.
When an infant feels chilly, the first thing you may notice is that their hands and feet begin to turn slightly blue13. While this may be cause for alarm in kids and adults, it’s nothing to be overly concerned about when you observe it in an infant.
Once you warm an infant slightly and their body returns to a normal temperature, you should see that their extremities return to a healthy hue.
We recommend dressing babies in layers but don’t overdo it. Again, if you notice that your baby is sweating, flushed, or has damp hair, that likely means they’re too hot. Remove some of the layers and check back in.
If your baby is too cold, you can add a layer of clothing or a pair of socks. Again, add a single layer at a time and continually assess rather than taking everything off or over-bundling.
View Our Full Guide: How To Dress Baby For Sleep?
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I adjust the room temperature in summer?
If you have the luxury of indoor air conditioning and a thermostat, you can simply set the display to your desired temperature.
If you don’t have the ability to control the sleeping environment directly, you’ll have to be more creative. A fan can help slightly, but it will mostly circulate the air rather than actually cool it. To avoid the room getting too hot in the first place, make sure you keep your blinds closed, or perhaps even use blackout curtains, during the day.
Additionally, opening a door or window at night can increase airflow. In fact, leaving the doors and windows open has been shown14 to improve sleep quality by lowering the carbon dioxide levels in the room.
Aside from cooling off the bedroom during the summer, you can also do some things to cool off your baby.
If the room is warm, be sure you’re using lightweight bedding and dressing your infant in lightweight clothes. If your baby is bottle-fed, you can give them chilled formula15 to keep them comfortable. Babies who are receiving breast milk as their sole source of food can have chilled breast milk16 that has been stored properly in the freezer or refrigerator, according to the CDC.
How can I adjust the room temperature in winter?
As mentioned, the ideal bedroom temperature for babies is between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, regardless of the season.1
You can also add layers when dressing your baby for sleep but do so with caution. Remember, you should avoid over-bundling, overdressing, or covering your infant’s face or head, which might overheat them and increase their risk of SIDS. Babies under one year old shouldn’t be left in a crib with extra blankets, pillows, or toys.10
If your thermostat is kept within the 65 to 70-degree range in the winter, though, you shouldn’t need to worry about bundling up your baby indoors.
What type of bedding is best for my baby?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, until your baby is about one year old, they shouldn’t have any bedding in their crib.8 This will help reduce their risk of SIDS.
Instead, you can use a sleep sack or warm sleep clothing for your younger infant, and be sure to place them on their back on a firm crib mattress. Avoid all soft bedding, pillows, and toys until your baby is at least one year old and more mobile. Items like duvets and quilts should be avoided until your infant graduates to a toddler or child’s bed.
As you can see, making sure your baby sleeps at the right temperature is not only important for their comfort, but also their safety. Sudden infant death syndrome may be rare, but its likelihood is increased by an overheated, over-bundled baby. Don’t let potential overheating keep you up worrying though – odds are, you’ll easily be able to tell if a room is too hot or too cold for your baby, as it will likely feel too hot or too cold to you as well.
Adjusting your baby’s temperature is usually a simple matter of adding or removing layers, and making sure the room has good airflow and stays between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature should not only keep your baby safe and healthy, but it might also help both of you sleep more soundly.
- “What’s the Best Temperature for Sleep?”. Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-is-the-ideal-sleeping-temperature-for-my-bedroom. 2021.
- “Keeping Your Baby Warm”. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Webpage accessed July 27, 2023. https://johnshopkinshealthcare.staywellsolutionsonline.com/Library/Encyclopedia/90,P02425.
- “How to distinguish between fever caused by infection, and environment and or exercise-induced hyperthermia and heat illness?”. Global Heat Health Information Network. Last modified May 22, 2020. https://ghhin.org/faq/fever-covid/.
- “Keeping your baby safe and cool in summer”. Children’s Health. Webpage accessed July 27, 2023. https://www.childrens.com/health-wellness/keeping-your-baby-safe-and-cool-in-summer.
- Shannon-Karasik, Caroline. “How Do You Know If Your Baby Is Too Hot? Here’s What To Look For”. MemorialCare. Webpage accessed July 27, 2023. https://www.memorialcare.org/blog/how-do-you-know-if-your-baby-too-hot-heres-what-look.
- “Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)”. Last modified July 19, 2023. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sudden-infant-death-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20352800.
- Thebarge, Sarah. “When and how to treat a high baby fever”. GoHealth Urgent Care. Webpage accessed July 27, 2023. https://www.gohealthuc.com/library/baby-fever-temperature.
- “Tips for Keeping Infants Safe During Sleep From the American Academy of Pediatrics”. American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.aap.org/en/news-room/news-releases/aap/2020/tips-for-keeping-infants-safe-during-sleep-from-the-american-academy-of-pediatrics/. 2020.
- “Sleeptime: Increase Air Circulation to Lower SIDS Risk”. Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Webpage accessed July 27, 2023. https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/family-resources-education/family-resources-library/sleeptime-increase-air-circulation-to-lower-sids-risk.
- Moon MD, Rachel Y., Darnall MD, Robert A., et al. “SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment”. American Academy of Pediatrics. https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article/138/5/e20162938/60309/SIDS-and-Other-Sleep-Related-Infant-Deaths-Updated. 2016.
- “Benefits of ‘Tummy Time’ and How To Do It Safely”. Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/3-benefits-of-tummy-time-for-newborns-how-to-do-it-safely/. 2022.
- Bowen, Cat., McPherson, Katie. “Here’s Why Your Baby Sleeps Like A Roast Chicken”. Romper Magazine. https://www.romper.com/parenting/why-do-babies-sleep-with-their-butt-in-the-air-childs-pose-is-comfy-for-a-reason-8841027. 2018.
- “Acrocyanosis”. ScienceDirect. Webpage accessed July 27, 2023. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/acrocyanosis.
- Prostak, Sergio. “Study: Opening Windows and Doors Improves Sleep Quality”. Sci News. https://www.sci.news/medicine/opening-windows-doors-sleep-quality-05459.html. 2017.
- “Infant formula: 7 steps to prepare it safely”. Mayo Clinic. Last modified January 26, 2023. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/infant-formula/art-20045791.
- “Proper Storage and Preparation of Breast Milk”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last modified January 24, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/recommendations/handling_breastmilk.htm.
Natalie is a content writer for Sleep Advisor with a deep passion for all things health and a fascination with the mysterious activity that is sleep. Outside of writing about sleep, she is a bestselling author, improviser, and creative writing teacher based out of Austin.