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Heatwaves are more and more common in their frequency and hotter in their intensity in the UK each year, it seems. With the heat comes unbearable and uncomfortable temperatures which makes sleeping at night an impossible task.
A baby’s room be it a nursery or in your own room is not immune to the heat and in fact fare worse since heat rises and bedrooms are typically upstairs.
29 degrees inside a bed room is at the point where intervention is needed as it’s just too hot to fall asleep and stay asleep as normal. According to the Sleep Foundation, between 20 and 22 is the optimal temperature for a baby room making 29 degrees a whole 7 degrees over the highest point.
In our experience, when the baby’s room is 25 degrees we will get the fan on at a reasonable rate, when it gets over 26/27 degrees the fan is ineffectual and anything over that number we have a problem on our hands that fans will not fix – so what can you do if your baby’s room is 29 degrees or over?
What to do during the day
Using weather forecasts, you can figure out well in advance how hot the day is going to be and manage the air flow and sunlight coming in effectively. Specifically, we want to find out how hot is the hottest part and then how early and quickly the evenings cool down.
During the 2022 heatwaves, some parts of of the UK stayed in the high 20s and even low 30s even during the night which meant that indoor heat didn’t cool down. 29 degree bedrooms were common for several days.
For days and nights like this, we want to try and keep the windows closed, and stop direct sunlight from coming in and warming the air. This can take a couple of degrees off the baby room temperature. When there is little breeze out there and the air is humid, opening windows will do very little and will likely keep your house warm as the hot air on the inside can’t escape.
Then, we want to stop as much sunlight from coming in. A trick which is detailed in Ideal Home, and one we actually used and can attest to is to cover the windows with plain old kitchen foil to reflect the light so that it doesn’t come in.
Modern homes are well insulated which means that it will be hotter indoors than it is outdoors, when you check the forecast add a couple of degrees to the outside temperature to the inside. Alternatively, if you have a thermostat, compare the two temperatures regularly to see the difference between the two on a typical summer’s day.
If it is 24 degrees outside then it is likely to be 26 and above on the inside.
Changes in the bedroom
If it’s already 29 degrees in the baby’s room and things aren’t going great, it’s time to strip away the duvet and all clothes. Let them sleep in a nappy so that they can release some heat through their skin.
For breastfeeding mothers, continue to feed on demand and consider co-sleeping safely for the 29 degree nights. A mother’s breasts can in fact cool a baby down (as well as warm them up) and can make things a little comfier for them, as well as give them a constant source of hydration.
However, once it’s at 29 degrees this alone is unlikely to make a noticeable difference.
How to cool a 29 degree baby room
Mobile air conditioning unit
During the horrible heatwave where our own children’s rooms hit 29 degrees celsius and even above at some points, the only thing that made the difference and it was worth every penny was a mobile air conditioning unit we hired for a week from HSS. It blasts out very cold air and keeps it at a set temperature – during the night the temperature was perfect and you would not have thought there was a heatwave.
We hired one for around £120 for 7 days, to buy the exact unit brand new would be over £400 which didn’t make financial sense considering we didn’t need it before and we haven’t needed it since.
It does have its drawbacks:
- It’s heavy to get upstairs
- It uses a lot of electricity
- It’s expensive even when hired
- You need to place it near a window to the exhaust pipe can let the hot air out
- They can be noisy (we used white noise machines and can still hear it)
After saying all that, if there was another heatwave in our house we would without question hire another air conditioning unit.
For us, fans do the trick when the temperature is no more than 25 or so. Anything more than that and they just seem to circulate the hot air. But, they can still help.
For a free life hack, place a glass or bucket full of ice behind the fan and it will blow the cold air from them around the room. However, when the temps get in their high 20s you will find the ice cubes melting pretty fast and their effects only lasting a short while.
Placing a damp cloth or muslin on your baby’s feet can help them feel cooler on the cheap and without much hassle. Baby’s lose heat quite rapidly and a lot of it is through their feet and legs – placing this damp cloth will help make their whole body feel cooler quickly.
This approach can help them at least feel cooler for the hottest part of the night and by the time the cloth itself has warmed up the room itself has as well.
When the temperatures reach as high as 29 degrees celsius on the inside, there is not an awful lot you can do. Read our steps at the beginning to try and prevent the mercury from reaching that high in the first place and then try our tips on how to cool the baby’s room down once it has gotten hot. Above all else, patience and acceptance it’s going to be a rough and hot night can help you get over the line.