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It’s a mother’s instinct to keep her baby safe and warm. Yet, despite frosty outside temperatures, resist the urge to overbundle your baby or to keep the nursery too warm: Several studies show that overdressing and overheating increases the chances of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). “The cold is what everyone worries about, but it’s a baby being too warm that is actually a risk for SIDS,” says Warren Guntheroth, M.D., professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington Medical School in Seattle, who has studied overheating risks in relation to SIDS. “Babies need to be able to lose heat to regulate their system.”
Experts theorize that overbundling a baby in a warm room can destabilize her breathing pattern and inhibit her ability to arouse and resume breathing normally. Follow these tips for keeping your baby comfortable and safe this winter:
Keep your thermostat set between 68 F and 72 F, recommends James J. McKenna, Ph.D., director of the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at Notre Dame University in Indiana.
Don’t overwrap your baby. “If your baby gets sweaty while she’s sleeping, she has too many layers on,” Guntheroth cautions. Instead of blankets (which can cover a baby’s face), opt for a sleep sack; they’re made from breathable fabric and can’t be kicked off or become tangled around your baby.
Put your infant to sleep on her back. “When a baby sleeps facedown, she tends to retain body heat and rebreathe carbon dioxide,” McKenna says. — Sarah Bowen Shea