Should Babies Be Swaddled In Summer? An Expert Explains How To Help Them Sleep Safely
I don't know about you, but when it comes to summer weather, I'm a one leg under, one leg out kind of girl. As in, I can only stand being partially covered up by blankets when I sleep. I hate to feel constricted by a comforter or certain types of pajamas, and cuddling is straight up out of the question. Sorry, honey. So when it came to helping my newborn summer baby settle into sleep, I couldn't imagine putting a ton of layers on her, but my husband and I both wondered: Should babies be swaddled in the summer? Turns out we were able to put those swaddling skills to use after all.
"I recommend that infants can still be swaddled in the summer, only until they can roll over from back to belly at which point they should no longer be swaddled," Dr. Sharon Somekh, a pediatrician and parenting consultant at Raiseology.com, tells Romper in an email interview. "A lightweight, velcro swaddle is the best option, and if it is warm in the home, then minimal clothing should be worn underneath the swaddle."
Somekh explains that swaddling helps decrease frequent wakings due to the startle (or moro) reflex in infants which usually disappears around 3 to 4 months of age. "It is, however, important to prevent overheating by limiting the layers of clothing and cooling your home appropriately when possible," she says.
According to The Sleep Store, swaddling alone cannot cause overheating. "Babies' temperature results from the combination of clothing, swaddle wrap and technique, bedding, and room temperature," the website noted. "Each of these factors can be controlled and minimized to ensure your baby does not get too hot."
The best materials for summer swaddling are wraps or blankets made from muslin or 100 percent cotton. But as The Sleep Store noted, muslin, while ideal for summer because of its breathability, is also the hardest fabric to wrap. Therefore, it may not be suitable "for Houdini babies unless you are a very skilled swaddler," according to the site. A top recommendation for muslin blankets is the Aden + Anais Muslin Swaddle Wraps ($35 for a set of four, Target) which I can say from personal experience are seriously the best. Our daughter was a June baby and we used them throughout the entire summer. As she got older, we also loved the Aden + Anais Muslin Wearable Blanket ($20, Target).
Of course, if you're just hanging out indoors, then you'll want to make sure you dress your infant in loose, lightweight clothing during the summer months. Garments made from a natural fiber like cotton are ideal, according to Parents, and you can use yourself as a guide for how to dress your baby.
Signs that your baby might be overheated include being unusually thirsty or tired. If their skin is cool and moist, then they could be suffering from heat exhaustion, according to Baby Center. On the other hand, a temperature of 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 degrees Celsius) or higher, a rapid pulse, restlessness, confusion, vomiting, and/or lethargy could be signs of heat stroke.
Dehydration is also a concern for little ones (and adults) during the summer months. Signs of dehydration in babies include sleepiness, irritability, thirst, less elasticity in the skin, eyes and fontanel (or soft spot on head) appear sunken, decrease or absence of tears, dry mouth, and/or decrease number of wet diapers, according to Parents.
Keeping your little one cool in the summer is another one of those parenting decisions that is easy to overthink, but is really quite simple. It's hot and, therefore, your little one will be feeling the warmth — just like you. So take the right measures to ensure they are comfortable, hydrated, and basking in the comfort of air conditioning when necessary.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.