Cold-Weather Sleep Tips for Baby's Safety

When temperatures drop outside, cranking up the temperature inside could put your baby at greater risk for SIDS. Here's what you can do.

SIDS risk

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). While it's natural to want to keep your baby cozy, being too warm is actually a risk for SIDS because your baby needs to be able to lose heat to regulate her 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.