If you're a new parent — whether it's for the first time or the fifth — chances are you've gone out of your way to baby-proof your home. You'll find plenty of information online (and in lots of other places) to help you with that very important task. It's a little harder, however, to find information on how to make — and keep — your indoor environment comfortable for your new little one. Because infants are very sensitive to changes in their physical environments, it's important to monitor the temperature and humidity in the nursery and other rooms your baby uses frequently.
What is the Ideal Room Temperature for Babies?
Babies can't tell you when they're too hot or too cold, but that doesn't mean they don't feel it. Worse, because they're so small and their bodily systems are still maturing, their little bodies may overreact to fluctuations in temperature.
When your little one gets too cold, he has to use part of his energy to maintain his core temperature — and while that's most important for premature or low-birth-weight newborns, even healthy, full-term babies lose heat faster than older children and adults. The consequences of being too cold range from a little discomfort to hypothermia.
On the other hand, the University of Chicago Pediatrics Department notes an increased risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) when an infant is overheated. An overheated baby is also likely to be fussy, cranky and in no mood to sleep.
Most U.S. medical societies and organizations recommend a "warm but not hot" temperature for your baby's sleep environment. While many used to give specific temperature ranges — generally between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit — the tendency now is to suggest that the "right" temperature is a personal choice. What seems to be more important to your baby's sleeping comfort is maintaining the room temperature in their comfort zone so that sudden temperature fluctuations don't wake them. For more information, check out our article about Baby Room Temperatures.
Monitoring Temperature and Humidity in Your Baby's Room
To help you identify — and maintain —the optimal temperature and humidity (more on that below) for your baby, an AcuRite room monitor, and your AcuRite Access™ can help you remotely monitor the ambient conditions in your baby's room. You can set custom alarms to let you know when the temperature or humidity climbs too high or drops too low, and make adjustments before it becomes a problem for your little one.
What Does a Humidifier Do for Babies?
Dry air is a winter menace. It can dry out the nasal passages, leading to crusty, dry mucus that makes it hard for your infant to breathe, and may lead to nosebleeds during the night. The American Academy of Pediatrics includes a cool-mist humidifier on its list of nursery essentials, especially if the air in your home is very dry.
What's the Ideal Relative Humidity for Your Baby's Room?
That's a good question and one that many doctors struggle to answer. The consensus is essentially that the right humidity level depends on the structure and conditions in your baby's room. The trick is to find a humidity level that's high enough to keep your baby's skin and nasal passages healthy, but not so high that it promotes mold growth. Doctors also noted that the local children's hospital keeps its relative humidity at around 55 percent. Of course, you should always check with your baby's medical professional before starting to use any special equipment, and follow their recommendations.
If You Choose to Use a Humidifier...
If you use a humidifier in your baby's room, it's extremely important to keep it clean. Stagnant water is a breeding ground for bacteria and germs. Clean your humidifier often, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
The right temperature and humidity will help keep your baby healthy, comfortable, and, hopefully, sleeping well — and needless to say, the happier your baby is, the more comfortable the rest of the family will be.