A guide to keeping your baby warm during winter

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images 

Knowing how to keep a new baby warm during the colder months can be tricky. 

Essential Baby talked to Red Nose Australia, the leading authority of safe sleep, to find out their top tips on keeping babies warm. 

What should your baby wear to keep warm?

Red Nose Australia's chief midwife Jane Wiggill said there were a number of factors to keep in mind when ensuring your baby was warm.

"When it comes to dressing babies, Red Nose does not recommend a specific number of layers for babies, as each baby is unique and their needs will differ," Ms Wiggill said.

"Instead, the organisation recommends you dress baby as you would dress yourself – comfortably warm, not too hot or too cold. 

"Always keep baby's face and head uncovered to prevent accidental overheating and suffocation, and always remove hats or beanies as soon as you come indoors or enter a warm car, bus or train, even if it means waking baby."

What it comes to sleep – what bedding and sleepwear is advised?

"It is important to ensure that as the weather gets colder, parents and carers pay attention not only to the environment baby sleeps in, but to how they dress baby for sleep," she said.

"Safe sleeping bags that are well fitted across the chest, with a fitted neck, sleeves or arm holes and no hoods or head coverings are a great way to provide warmth and comfort for baby."

When it comes to bedding, this depends on a variety of factors such as what the baby is wearing, whether it's summer or winter, and whether there is heating or cooling within the room where baby is sleeping.

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"We do recommend that parents dress their baby according to the temperature of the room environment, ensuring that there is no loose bedding or clothing in the cot," she said.

"Babies can also be swaddled, up until the time they start to roll, with their face and head uncovered, in a muslin or cotton wrap and placed on their backs for sleep into the cot with an additional layer of a sheet and lightweight blanket drawn to the level of the chest and firmly tucked in.

"If using a sleeping bag, no other bedding should be used."

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

What is TOG?

TOG stands for Thermal Overall Grade. Simply put, the lower rated bags are used in warmer weather, and the higher rated bags are used in colder weather.

"The TOG system was developed in the UK for a cooler European climate and provides a guide to help parents to select the appropriate sleeping bag for the temperature of the room and how much clothing baby needs underneath," she said.

"Red Nose recommends that the TOG ratings are used as a guide only, especially in Australia where our climate varies significantly from the UK and also between states and territories."

What temperature should your baby's room be?

When it comes to setting a specific room temperature there are no set guidelines.

"To date, there is no evidence to show that maintaining a specific room temperature prevents sudden infant death," she said.

"Red Nose recommends that the room is comfortable for the climate and that baby is placed to sleep on their back, dressed appropriately (not over or underdressed), and that baby's face remains uncovered. 

"Never use electric blankets, wheat bags or hot water bottles as these are very dangerous in the sleep environment and could cause baby to overheat."

Here are some key things Red Nose Australia wants parents to remember about keeping babies warm:

  • Babies control their temperature predominantly through the face and head. Sleeping baby on the back with the head and face uncovered is the best way to protect baby from overheating.
  • It is not necessary to monitor the room temperature or to leave the heating or cooling on all night, as long as the baby is dressed appropriately for the room temperature. Dress baby as you would dress yourself – comfortably warm, not hot or cold.
  • A good way to check baby's temperature is to feel the baby's back or tummy, which should feel warm (don't worry if baby's hands and feet feel cool, this is normal). If baby is showing signs of heat stress, remove some bedding or clothing. This may be necessary if baby is unwell, in which case you should seek medical attention.
  • Ensure that baby's head and face cannot become covered - do not use bedding such as duvets, pillows, bumpers, lambs' wool, or have soft toys in the cot or where the baby is sleeping.
  • A good way to avoid face covering is to use a safe baby sleeping bag (one with fitted neck, armholes or sleeves and no hood).
  • If using bedclothes rather than a sleeping bag, it is the best to use layers of lightweight blankets that can be added or removed easily according to the room temperature and which can be tucked underneath the mattress. The bed should always be made up so that the baby is at the foot of the cot to avoid any chance of the face or head becoming covered by bedding.
  • Remove baby's bonnet, beanie, hood or hat as soon as you go indoors or enter a warm car, bus or train, even if it means waking the baby.
  • Remove items that could cover their face and no additional items in the cot which can obstruct baby's airway or cause baby to overheat.
  • Never use electric blankets, wheat bags or hot water bottles for babies.
  • Never leave baby in a car to sleep without supervision.