Correct room temperature for sleeping children and babies

Updated April 17, 2017

The right amount of good quality sleep is essential for the health and development of babies and young children. Maintaining the nursery temperature at the right level at night will help keep your baby or child safe and sleeping soundly. Counter-intuitively, the best temperature for a sleeping child or baby is cooler rather than warmer.

Room temperature for babies

The correct room temperature is absolutely vital to ensuring the safety of babies as they sleep: overheating is one of the contributing factors to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The ideal room temperature is 16 to 20 degrees centigrade (61 to 69 degrees farenheit). Unless it is exceptionally cold, it is not usually necessary to keep central heating on at night in the nursery, and the cot should not be placed next to a heated radiator. It is worth also paying attention to the temperature of any rooms in which your baby may nap during the day. Living rooms are generally kept warmer than bedrooms and you may dress your baby in heavier daytime clothes. If this is the case, don't cover up your baby with too many additional blankets as he naps.

Sleep clothes and coverings for babies

A vest and a babygro are all that your baby needs to wear at night. You can then layer sheets and blankets over him according to the temperature of the room. Duvets are unsuitable for babies, not only because of the danger of overheating, but because a baby could become trapped beneath it and smothered. A recent innovation is the baby sleeping bag, which fastens on the shoulders and comes in various tog weightings like a duvet. Your baby cannot kick it off and get cold (causing him -- and you -- to wake), and nor can he wriggle down inside it and suffocate. During the summer, your baby may only need to wear a nappy and sleeping bag to keep him at the correct temperature throughout the night.

Room temperature, sleep clothes and coverings for children

Although the risk of SIDS decreases in a child over the age of one year, a cool bedroom is still desirable as it will help improve sleep throughout the night. Once he gets a proper bed, at around the age of two, your child will be fine to sleep with pillows and a duvet. Duvets are good temperature regulators although, as children are prone to kicking them off, it is a good idea to invest as well in appropriately warm pyjamas.

When a baby or child has a temperature

When a child is feverish, it is important to bring his body temperature down. This can be done by removing some or all of the bed coverings and some or all clothing. If this does not have much effect, try sponging his body gently with cool or lukewarm water. In addition, a paracetamol-based medicine formulated for children is effective at reducing temperatures. If a child's temperature remains high and cannot be brought down, it is worth calling a doctor for guidance. Fever in a young baby (under four months old) should always be a reason to call the doctor.

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About the Author

Lalla Scotter has been writing professionally since 1988, covering topics ranging from leadership to agriculture. Her work has appeared in publications such as the "Financial Times" and "Oxford Today." Scotter holds an honors Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Bristol.