Clock change marks cooler nights and overheating risk for infants

This Winter poses a higher risk of overheating amongst young children than any other, according to Parenting Expert, Laura Erskine. With the end of October clock change marking the start of many cooler nights ahead, this year’s daylight savings practice will be more difficult on families as energy prices continue to rise.

Another casualty of the pandemic, the EU proposal to scrap the daylight savings hour adjustment in March and October each year has been put on the back burner. However, now that Europe faces into the colder seasons amid a serious energy crisis, parents will start to favour wearing layers of clothing over the cost of turning on their home heating.

Parenting Expert Laura Erskine warns:  “Putting too many layers of clothing or using duvets or blankets with your baby or young child places them at serious risk of overheating. Infants do not have the ability to fully regulate their own body temperature until they are around 2-years of age. This is why young children are at a higher risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome during the winter months. This Winter will be the one of the hardest for parents looking to save energy and reduce their home heating bills. It is important that parents are aware of best practice guidelines for safe sleep and do not overdress infants, particularly at night. I recommend that parents use sleeping bags for children from birth to age three, making sure that they comply with the latest strict EU safety regulations like the safe sleep range designed by the award-winning Irish brand BabyBoo.ie”

Safe Sleep

It can be hard to know if your little one is warm enough as the nights turn cooler. It is normal for parents to worry as to whether their baby is too hot or too cold, particularly as infants can't regulate their own body temperature.

The SnuggleBoo sleepsuit for more active sleepers

Parenting Expert, Laura Erskine warns of the dangers of overheating when it comes to infant sleep and shares her top tips for safe sleep:

  • Studies have shown that thick clothing, too many layers, and high room temperatures increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). And while it may seem counterintuitive, infants are at higher risk of SIDS during the winter months. This is because parents worry that their baby will get cold and so may overdress them.
  • The temperature of your infant’s bedroom should be between 16-20°C. Remember this is also the optimum temperature for your baby’s room to reduce the risk of SIDS. Thankfully, most baby monitors now include temperature as a standard feature, and some baby bath thermometers will also work for bedrooms too.
  • If your child wakes during the night, it may be a sign that they are too hot or too cold. If the back of their neck or their tummy feels warm then they are fine, however if their skin feels damp, they are probably too hot. If a child is too hot, parents should cool the room by opening a window or removing a layer of their child’s sleep clothing.
  • Don't worry if your baby’s arms, hands, or feet feel cool to the touch, this is normal and actually helps them to maintain a regular temperature. In general, it is better for your baby to be cool rather than hot.
  • Always use 100% organic cotton for baby's bedding and sleepwear to help ensure that their skin can breathe, and air can circulate. Fleecy or polyester options may feel cosy to touch, but these manmade fibres can cause your baby to overheat. Babies cannot regulate their own body temperature and can overheat quickly, while toddlers are very sensitive to heat.

  • A 2.5 tog sleeping bag is for use all year and for standard room temperatures of 16-20°C. Dress your baby in a cotton babygro and short-sleeved vest before putting them in their sleeping bag on cold Winter nights. Take off the vest layer for slightly warmer nights in Spring and Autumn.
  • Sleeping bags and those with the legs built in for more active sleepers, are a great safe alternative to blankets. A baby sleep bag is a wearable blanket, designed to keep a baby at a comfortable and safe temperature, without the need for additional bedding. It is secured at the shoulders, ensuring that baby’s head remains uncovered.
  • Parents should be mindful that the sleeping bags they buy for their little one is the correct size for their age and height. Recent changes to the strict EU safety regulations for sleeping bags ensures that compliant products follow strict sizing rules to ensure that baby’s head cannot fit through the neck opening when securely closed.
  • When choosing a sleeping bag or suit, choose a reputable brand like the sleeping range from Irish company BabyBoo.ie. Available in a warmth level of 1.0 to 2.5 tog with sizes from 0-3 years, the sleepwear is made from 100% certified organic cotton with a hypoallergenic polyester fill. Parents can also rest easy that the BabyBoo.ie sleepwear range has been fully tested and is certified compliant with the EU safety standard BS EN 16781:2018.
  • The HSE and World Health Organisation working on the prevention of SIDS recommend that infants should be placed on their backs to sleep, on a firm, safety approved mattress with a fitted sheet. They recommend that no blankets or fluffy bedding is used either under or over them, and that baby's sleep area should be free of pillows, cot bumpers and stuffed toys. If a blanket must be used, then baby should be placed feet to the foot of their crib where the blanket should reach no higher than the baby's chest and it is tucked in under the crib mattress.

Daylight Savings

While our smart technology will update clocks automatically in less than two weeks, parents of young children are advised to gradually adjust their bedtimes so that their circadian rhythm is not upset.

When it comes to the hour change on Sunday 30th October this year, the Parenting Expert advises that children are put to bed 10 minutes later each night for the week before. This slow introduction to a later bedtime will help to ensure that your young child’s overnight sleep is less disrupted following the daylight saving hour change.

The SnuggleBoo sleepwear range comes in a variety of print patterns & colours

This means that when the clocks go back 1-hour on Sunday at 2am, your child’s normal wake up time of 6am will continue even though they gained an hour. This is because your little one’s biological clock has adjusted, so they shouldn’t be as bright as a button at 5am looking to start a new day.

Even if your child’s sleep cycle is slightly upset, it will soon get back on track if you continue with their consistent nap times and bed times as normal. Routine will always provide the regular parameters your child needs to thrive within their life.

The SnuggleBoo sleeping bag for younger babies

The SnuggleBoo sleepwear range from award-winning sustainable Irish brand BabyBoo, comes in a sleeping bag for younger babies or a sleepsuit for more active sleepers. Available in both a 2.5 tog and 1.0 tog rating and is made from 100% GOTS & Oekotex certified organic cotton with a hypoallergenic polyester fill. Featuring detachable sleeves, these sleep suits are ideal for use from Autumn right through Winter and into Spring. Buy your SnuggleBoo for €50 from www.babyboo.ie.

Laura Erskine is a Parenting Expert and mum of three children. Laura has been sharing her parenting insights and advice with government organisations, global brands and across national media platforms in Ireland and the UK for over 10-years. www.theparentingexperts.com.

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