If you’ve had a baby, you might be familiar with the magic of swaddling. There’s a reason mothers from different times and cultures have used swaddling to encourage peace and sleep for their babies. Mommas are no dummies, folks!
Swaddling is one of the most effective ways to soothe a fussy baby, get her to sleep, and to make sure that she stays asleep for enough time to get the proper rest she needs.
It mimics the calming effects of a mother’s womb because it’s a warm, tight space that makes baby feel embraced and comforted.
Absolutely priceless for exhausted parents everywhere!
There’s nothing cozier, snugglier, or more toasty than a swaddled babe. It’s for this very reason, though, that many parents wonder if it’s safe for warmer weather and not just during the cold winter months.
The short answer is YES – it’s safe to swaddle in the summertime. Lucky for you, there is no need to forgo the advantages of swaddling just because the temperature rises!
All it takes is a little extra attention to a few very important details, all of which we’ll be clearly laying out in the sections below.
Summer Swaddling: Why Sweat It?
We’ve agreed that swaddling is a weapon all parents of infants need in their arsenal, right? So why worry about it just because it gets a little warm outside?
Well, the main reason is because babies can’t regulate their body temperature as well as adults.
So, if baby’s environment is too hot, then he’s at risk of overheating. Overheating affects baby’s breathing patterns and can result in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Note from Dr. Leah Alexander, M.D., F.A.A.P.: “Here is an article from “Epidemiology” that discusses the association of SIDS and an infant becoming overheated in more detail.
It’s imperative that caretakers are aware of their baby’s surroundings, and take the necessary steps to make sure their little one is not too hot at any given point in time (health.nsw.gov).
This includes being wise about how to swaddle in the summer months.
So, what do you need to know about this?
4 Things to Keep in Mind When Swaddling In The Summer
Do you want to continue to swaddle your baby through the warm season? No problem!
You just need to consider the 4 following things to make sure your little burrito is comfortable and safe at all times when swaddled.
Note from Dr. Leah Alexander, M.D., F.A.A.P.: “Although this article is primarily about using a swaddle in warm, summer weather, I think it is important to mention some general safety tips for swaddle use.
The following AAP link discusses some safety tips. It includes instructions on how to properly swaddle an infant as well.”
#1) Room Temperature
Regulating baby’s temperature while she sleeps begins with the temperature in the room.
Even well-circulated, air-conditioned homes are prone to having some rooms that trap more heat than others.
If your baby’s room faces the sun in the afternoon, it’s possible the room is absorbing all the heat from the sunshine, which makes it more difficult to cool down.
Try using sun-blocking curtains that will cut down the amount of heat let into the room by sunlight. You might also try installing a ceiling fan to keep the air in the room circulating.
The absolute easiest way to be certain your baby remains cool is to move their crib to one of the cooler rooms in your home, if possible.
Note from Dr. Leah Alexander, M.D., F.A.A.P.: “Here is an audio clip from the AAP regarding sweating in infants during sleep and when it is a sign of concern.
It also supports what was indicated in this article as an optimal room temperature.”
How Hot Is Too Hot?
The ideal range in room temperature for your sleeping beauty (or beast) is between 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. You can look for a video monitor that displays the temperature in the baby’s room – takes the guesswork out of that scenario!
If your monitor doesn’t display the exact temperature in the nursery, there’s one really simple way to know that your baby’s room is comfortable enough for sleep: Walk in there and see how it feels to you.
If you feel uncomfortable or immediately begin to sweat, that’s a sign the room is too hot for your child. Shoot for a temperature in which you would be comfortable wearing a lightweight jacket.
You can also involve other family members in this test as well, but be sure not to influence their conclusion by saying stuff like “it’s too hot in here, isn’t it?!” or “is it freezing cold in here or is it just me?!” beforehand.
#2) Baby’s Clothing
If you’re not able to easily control the temperature, but swaddling is non-negotiable for you and you’re not willing to give it up, just pay special attention to what your baby is wearing beneath the swaddle blanket.
First off, layering is key to controlling a young baby’s temperature. When your kids demand to go to the Christmas parade, and it’s 20 degrees outside, what do you do? Layer, layer, layer!
You do this because you know your little ones won’t be able to warm themselves up enough on their own. It’s the same concept with heat, except in reverse. Simply remove any unnecessary layers, and you’re good to go!
Ditch The Layers
Many parents worry about keeping newborns and young infants covered from head to toe at all times because of that stark difference between womb and outside world.
The truth is, you just need to make sure baby is comfortable for the conditions they’re in at the time – there’s no rule that says newborn skin needs to be 100% covered at all times.
So this means you can toss the baby cap when the temperature is high.
Yes, your sweet little newborn was likely wearing one of those hospital caps when he was handed to you, and it was the cutest thing ever! Baby caps are useful in preventing too much warmth from escaping the body through baby’s head.
However, when you actually want to release body heat, keep baby’s head uncovered.
Speaking of uncovered, don’t be afraid to strip your little one down to just a diaper before swaddling. As long as your swaddling blanket is made of a breathable fabric that won’t trap too much heat, you can send your little one off to dreamland wearing next to nothing.
So What’s The Best Fabric For Warm Temperatures?
You want to look for lightweight, breathable fabrics for your baby’s clothing in the summertime. Some good choices are:
- bamboo fiber
- thin cotton
Fabrics you’ll typically want to avoid are:
- thick cotton
The difference between “thick” or “thin” often refers to the knit of the fabric. A more loose-knit fabric is better than tight-knit fabric for staying cool in the heat. It will allow more body heat to escape, rather than trap it.
#3) Baby’s Body Temperature
Factors such as room temperature and clothing are simply contributing factors to your baby’s actual body temperature. You want to keep a close eye on your swaddled babe if you feel the conditions may be too warm for them at any given point in time.
There’s no better way to know whether your little one is too hot than to be hands-on (literally). If your baby feels hot to the touch, that’s not good.
If you’re seriously concerned, pull out the thermometer and take little one’s temperature (a rectal reading will show the truest reading).
Normal body temperature ranges from 98 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything above 102 degrees is considered a high temperature and could be very dangerous.
Note from Dr. Leah Alexander, M.D., F.A.A.P.: “In addition to the fact that 102 degrees F is a “high temperature,” it should be mentioned that anything above 100.4 degrees F is considered a fever.
If the infant is under the age of 3 months old, a doctor should be contacted as soon as possible because of the possibility of serious bacterial infections (meningitis, urinary tract infections) that can occur at this age.
You can read this article for more information.”
Sweat: Good or bad?
Also keep an eye out for sweat on your child.
Infants sweat much less than adults do – which may sound like a perk of being a baby, but it actually makes them much more prone to overheating. Sweating is a necessary tool the body uses to cool itself down.
Young infants will first start sweating on their head – then as they get warmer, they will begin sweating on their trunk, and finally legs and arms (babyscience.info).
If you find sweat anywhere other than on baby’s head, this could be a sign she’s close to overheating.
According to BabyCenter, some other signs your baby is in danger of overheating include:
- red skin
- rapid pulse
- baby is lethargic or unresponsive
- rapid, shallow breathing
- temperature of 103 degrees fahrenheit, but no sweat
If your baby is experiencing any of these symptoms and you believe it is due to overheating, call 911 or check in with your child’s medical professional right away.
Take immediate steps to reduce his/her temperature by moving to a cooler space, removing extra clothing, and sponging him/her off with a dampened cloth.
#4) Swaddle Options
It feels like there are a million options in the baby aisle for swaddling. There are swaddling blankets, baby sleep bags, and every thinkable combination in between!
Here’s a few things to keep in mind with respect to the swaddler itself when heat is a concern.
Fabric Is Important
As with the baby’s clothing, you want to be picky about the fabric of the blanket or swaddler you use for summertime swaddling.
Many mommas use muslin blankets to swaddle their babies. These are a fantastic option because of the lightweight material. Aiden + Anais is a muslin fan favorite because the fabric of their blankets is extra lightweight and not at all stiff. Perfect for swaddling!
Just remember that the same tips about baby’s clothing apply to the material of the swaddler. Some of the best fabrics include cotton, bamboo, and linen. Avoid wool, thick cotton, and polyester.
Try Arms Out
If your baby is old enough (around 4 months) to start transitioning out of the swaddle, you could begin swaddling with one or both arms out when the weather warms up. This will allow more heat to escape, keeping baby’s temperature lower.
You’ll eventually be able to phase out the swaddle altogether (soon enough) if you go this route. This may be your best option if you plan to take your baby camping (or somewhere with no means to regulate the temp) later this summer.
Swaddlers that secure with velcro are great for this transitional method. It’s easy to remove baby’s arms and keep the torso swaddled without loose or extra fabric.
Wrapping It Up
Remember to trust your gut and don’t be afraid to wake your baby if you’re concerned about the heat. It’s better for you both to lose a little (or a lot) of sleep than to risk overheating.
It’s perfectly safe to swaddle in the summertime, as long as you are mindful of the conditions and how they will affect your baby. Simply keep these tips in mind for those hot summer nights and you’ll both sleep safe and sound!