Having your little ones fall asleep on a hot summer night can be hard. Here are some tips to help make it easier, as well as to keep their room cooler, so that they can get a good night’s sleep.
While in the summer we are often outside a lot, it is helpful for little ones to stick to a familiar routine, such as still having their naps during the day or at least a rest. This will also help them to have a break from the heat and the sunlight. Ensure healthy sleep habits are already in place, and if your little one is dependent on a caregiver for falling asleep, this might be more challenging when they are uncomfortable due to the warm weather.
Ensure little ones are taking in enough fluids during the day. Infants and toddlers are not always able to let you know when they are thirsty, so ensure you offer lots of opportunities to hydrate during the day. Water, breastmilk and water-dense foods (i.e. watermelon, oranges, cucumbers, etc.) should be provided frequently throughout the day. Preschoolers and children should also be reminded to drink as they may become too busy with their play to remember to drink water when they feel thirsty.
Keep your child’s room out of the direct sunlight during the day by keeping curtains or blinds drawn, but with the windows open to allow for air circulation.
Use a fan or a portable air conditioning unit. Both will allow for white noise as well, and that will help to limit any noises that may awaken your infant or child up early from a nap. Ensure cords are positioned well away from the sleep space or crib. Ensure the fan or AC unit is not pointing directly at your little one, as that will make it hard for them to settle to sleep. For a do-it-yourself AC unit, you can position a shallow pan or bowl (a roasting pan works nicely) full of ice in front of a fan. The breeze will pick up cold water from the ice surface as it melts, creating a cooling mist.
Give little ones a cool bath before bed as this will help to cool down their body temperature. You can also try putting their stuffed animal (or bed sheets/coverings) in the freezer for a few minutes before bed to cool down the sleep space. For preschoolers and children, you can try filling a hot water bottle with cold water to create a bed-friendly ice pack. Also, rice and buckwheat can keep you cool on hot nights and for a cold compress on really hot nights, fill a sock with rice, tie it off, and stick it in the freezer for an hour or so. The compress will stay chilly for up to 30 minutes, definitely enough time for your preschooler or child to nod off comfortably.
Use a thermometer in the bedroom so that you are able to check the temperature of the room. Your little one will sleep most comfortably between 16-20 degrees Celsius; however, up to 23 degrees Celsius is still a comfortable temperature for sleep.
Reduce the amount of clothing your little one is wearing while sleeping. A diaper and a sleep sack (0.5 tog rating) are fine to use when it is a really hot night. Ensure they are dressed in breathable cotton pyjamas or a onesie, as well as ensure the fitted sheet in the crib is also cotton. For your toddler or preschooler, try to limit the number of stuffed animals in their sleep space as this will allow for more airflow close to your little one while they are sleeping.
Watch out for dehydration. As mentioned above, make sure your little ones are drinking plenty of fluids during the day, and they may even need some water during the night. If your little one is irritable at night, it might not just be because of the heat, it might also be related to dehydration.