SIDS and Winter
The University of Minnesota SIDS Center published a report in 1999 stating that, "SIDS [Sudden Infant Death Syndrome] most commonly occurs between the ages of two and four months, and the majority of deaths happen in the winter."
This sounds scary, but fortunately doctors now believe SIDS can be prevented by putting your baby to sleep on her back and carefully making sure her room is kept at a moderate temperature.
"Parents should realize a room that is comfortable for them is comfortable for their baby," the report says. Babies' rooms shouldn't be too warm, nor should babies have so many bedclothes that they become hot and sweaty.
"The increased number of SIDS cases during the winter may be due to the greater risk of colds and other respiratory infections that babies catch or due to putting too many clothes or blankets on the baby," the article explains.
The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths suggests the following helpful tips to keep baby at the right temperature:
- Keep your baby's room or sleeping area at a moderate 65 degrees. Night heating is rarely needed.
- Many people have difficulty judging room temperature. Invest in a thermometer for the rooms where baby sleeps and plays.
- To check your child's body temperature, do a tummy test. If your baby is sweaty or her tummy feels too hot, shed a layer of clothes or blanket. Don't worry if hands or feet feel cool—this is normal.
- If you must use a blanket, make sure it is lightweight. A footed, fleece sleeper and no blanket is best. According to the University of Minnesota SIDS Center, "If you use a blanket, put baby's feet at the foot of her crib and tuck a thin blanket around the mattress only as high as baby's chest." Never use a duvet, quilt, or pillow for babies under 12 months.
- Babies who are unwell and feverish need fewer clothes and bedclothes—even during the winter months.
- Babies usually need to lose excess heat from their heads, so ask your pediatrician if your newborn should sleep with a hat or not. Be sure your baby's head isn't covered with bedclothes and that there is enough room for her to sleep with a space between the crest of her head and the sides of her bed.
- Babies should never sleep with a hot water bottle or electric blanket, next to a radiator, heater or fire, or in direct sunshine.
- Take off hats and extra clothing when coming indoors or entering a warm bus, train or shop—even if baby is sleeping.
- Remember, cars can get too hot, too. Don't forget to turn down the heater after the chill is gone.