You never want your little one to be too hot! If your baby’s overheating, she’s likely to be uncomfortable, her sleep may suffer and she may get heat rash. But, there’s an even more serious concern: Overheating can raise the risk of infant sleep death, also called SIDS.

Studies have shown that thick clothing, too many layers and high room temperatures increase the risk of SIDS. While it may seem counterintuitive, infants are at higher risk of SIDS during the winter months. That’s because parents worry their baby may get cold and they try to prevent that by overdressing them or cranking up the heat.

Is Your Baby Overheating? How to Check

Luckily, there’s an easy way to tell if your baby is too hot. Touch her ears and neck. If her ears are red and hot and her neck is sweaty, your baby is too warm. Dress her more lightly or cool the room.

Ideally, the room should be kept between 68° F to 72°F 9 (20°C to 22.2°C). You can actually measure the room temperature with a thermometer, but in general, the temperature should not be too cool or too warm to an adult.

In hot weather, it’s totally fine to let your baby sleep in just a diaper and light muslin swaddle. Of course, you should not overdress your baby or overheat the room, whether she’s swaddled or not.

Hot Baby Means Restless Baby

If your baby is too warm, she may become restless which can lead to less sleep for her… and you! To avoid that, don’t over-bundle your little bundle for naps or at bedtime with extra layers of clothing or hats. Hats are especially problematic because covering the head reduces the baby’s ability to use the head as a little radiator, giving off extra heat. Also, in the middle of the night, a hat might accidentally slip over your little one’s face and cause breathing difficulties. Never use blankets (a safe crib is a crib free of toys, blankets and all objects except a pacifier) and never use electric blankets or heating pads under your baby. These overheat infants and expose them to electromagnetic radiation.

Overheating & Heat Rash

Babies develop heat rash when their salty sweat irritates the skin. It most commonly appears on their necks, armpits, chest, back, elbows or thighs. The rash presents as little red dots (irritated hair follicles) and splotchy skin and can be accompanied by fever, chills and bumps. If you think your child has heat rash, give your doctor a call. She may recommend that you sprinkle on a dusting of cornstarch powder—never talcum—to absorb excess sweat and prevent irritation.

The thing to keep in mind is that babies cannot regulate their body temp well, so you want to avoid extreme hot and cold. If you’re ever not sure, do the “ear check” to be safe!

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