Air Circulation in your Baby’s Room

Air Circulation in your Baby’s RoomAs you fret over every detail of your new baby’s health, considering air circulation in your baby’s room is an important safety factor to add to your list.  Because a baby’s body temperatures and respiratory systems are immature and often hard to regulate, maintaining an appropriate temperature and ensuring proper air circulation can impact your baby’s ability to breath.  Plus, air circulation is linked to risk of SIDS, which consumes many infant lives per year.

Ideal Room Temperature for a Baby

Experts recommend that your baby’s room should remain between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit at all times.  Like adults, babies usually sleep better at the cooler end of this range.  If you don’t have a thermostat in your baby’s room, be sure to have an external thermometer that can keep track of the room temperature.  Often basement or second floor rooms are colder or hotter than the average temperature of the entire house, and windows facing the sun at certain times a day can cause a room to be warmer than the main thermostat shows.

Even knowing the room temperature, many parents worry that their babies are too hot or cold.  To check your baby’s body temperature, feel their ears or chest.  Never go by their hands or feet as these extremities tend to be colder due to poor blood circulation during infancy.  If you need to cool off a room, it’s ok to crack a window as long as it is not too cold outdoors.  Wait until late spring, summer or early fall to use this tactic.  Be sure your window has bars or screens and are never open far enough for your baby to fall through.  Also remove layers of clothing from your baby.  If you need to warm up a room, add clothes, blankets and sleep sacks until your baby is warmer.

Fans in Baby’s Room Lower Risk of SIDS

A study completed in 2008 concluded that babies who sleep with a room fan on have a 72% lowered risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).  Although incidence of SIDS has reduced significantly since the “back to sleep” recommendation for babies to sleep on their backs without soft bedding or blankets, SIDS is still the leading cause of death among infants within the first year of life.  The reason fans lower risk of SIDS is likely because fans increase air circulation and prevent “re-breathing,” which is when babies breath back in their own carbon dioxide.  Fans don’t actually change the temperature of the room or cool off babies unless they are already perspiring.  Fans simply circulate air throughout the room.

Vaporizers and Humidifiers in Baby’s Room

Pediatricians differ on recommendations for cool air humidifiers vs. warm air vaporizers.  Vaporizers help purify air because warm steam is cleaner for babies to breathe, a crucial aspect of respiration for a newborn.  Steam from vaporizers is also a great choice in winter because it warms a baby’s room and allows parents to turn down central heating that causes dry skin and dry nasal passages.  Warm, moist air helps loosen a baby’s mucus before it becomes a cough or respiratory or ear infection.  Cool mist humidifiers are less effective at helping with common colds, coughs and congestion but newer ultrasonic models help break moisture into tiny particles that can assist a baby’s respiration.

If you use a vaporizer, be sure to keep your baby away from it while it is on as it could burn your baby’s skin.  For both vaporizers and humidifiers, clean them often (at least weekly) and dry them thoroughly between uses to avoid mold and spreading germs.  Also, don’t allow your baby to get near standing water or electrical cords due to risk of drowning, strangling and electrocution.

Air circulation in your baby’s room is a critical factor in your baby’s health and safety.  Be vigilant of the room temperature, circulation and moisture to ensure your baby’s wellbeing as a newborn and infant.