How to keep your newborn feeding and sleeping peacefully in the summer heat.
Noah and The Heat Wave.
I’m back in London where we are having a heat wave. Normally this would be cause for great excitement but when looking after a new born baby it can cause havoc with their day routine and sleeping habits. Babies are heat sensitive and the warmer the weather the harder it is for a new baby to stay awake and feed well during the day. Noah is two weeks old and the third of three gorgeous children. Noah is one of the most relaxed babies I have ever looked after apart from when he’s hungry then boy, what a scream!
Getting back to the summer heat wave and how to keep a newborn sleeping and feeding well during high temperatures, keep baby’s room cool for sleeping and feed in the coolest room of the house. Babies heat up when feeding and digesting milk, so the cooler a baby the more likely he is to stay awake and actively drink during feeds. Strip baby down to just a vest for feeding and use cool water for nappy changes to help him wake up.
Cooling your baby’s body temperature is the only way to wake him up if effected by the heat. Run cool water over hands and feet and strip wash with a cool flannel. If your baby won’t wake up to feed, wind, play as per usual or has dry nappies and you are worried about hydration, run a tepid to cool bath of around 29 degrees and put baby in for one to three minutes as this will cool his temperature right down, enabling him to wake up fully to wind, feed and have the awake time he is used to. I often use this technique several times during a feed when the high temperature of a heat wave interferes with a newborn’s ability to stay awake and feed properly. It is commonly thought that babies are born cold. They are born unable to regulate their body temperature so cannot warm themselves up if cold or cool their bodies if hot. It is more dangerous for a baby to be too hot rather than too cold. Too cold and your baby will generally wake and cry.
The ideal room temperature is 19- 21 degrees. Any higher than 23 degrees and you need to be thinking about cooling the room down. Open windows for through air flow. Keep blinds and curtain shut to keep the sun from heating up the room during the day and slightly open to allow for airflow at night. (this could cause early waking with the early daylight)
Use a high powered, low noise, standing fan that oscillates. Use this for naps and at night. You can leave this on the lowest setting with the airflow indirectly towards your baby’s cot or Moses basket. The fan should not be used with airflow directly on your baby. The fan should not be used during feeds or playtime as the white noise of the fan will have the same soporific effect as the heat itself. Older babies, of twelve weeks onwards, may well be able to cope with the noise and breeze without drifting off. I’ve heard that putting a bowl of ice close to the fan helps circulate cooler air but I haven’t tried it myself yet and I’m not sure how long a bowl of ice would last!
Portable air conditioning units are great to cool a room before and after a feed and before and after naps but cannot be left on over night or at any time your baby is sleeping in the room. The air will get too cold and the machine will be too noisy.
Keep your baby’s sleep position the same but swap blankets for a large muslin to tuck in and dress baby in less clothes. If you usually sleep your baby in a vest and babygro body suit, ditch the babygro. If you are swaddling keep using it as your baby will need her usual sleep aid. If using a sleeping bag and baby is older then ditch the sleeping bag.
I usually bath a newborn in a temperature of 34 degrees and the older a baby gets the warmer I make the bath as they become less sensitive to heat and spend longer in the bath. The reason for this is to help keep baby awake for his bedtime feed which is the most important of the day, setting him up for a long stretch of sleep overnight. During a sticky heat wave, the warmer the air the cooler the bath temperature, getting down to 30-31 degrees.
Luckily we have a cool, fully converted basement area here so Noah and I are spending feed times downstairs then back upstairs after a cool bath to revive him for some playtime on his gym, so it’s working well! Keeping him cool during the day helps him stay awake to drink the right amount of milk needed to sleep at night.
For more tips and my full routine order my book 7pm to 7am Sleeping Baby Routine or book a consultation with me.