The risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is always a huge concern for parents, and rightfully so. As it turns out, the better and safer babies sleep, the better you feel. As researchers learn more about SIDS and the ways to prevent it, you might find yourself adjusting what's in your baby's room. You've removed the blankets, bumpers, and toys from your baby's crib, made sure they are comfortably clothed, and ensured the thermostat is set appropriately. What else? Should you put a fan in your baby's nursery to help circulate the air? What are the benefits, and will they get too cold?
According to Dr. Rebecca Dixon, pediatric hospitalist with Indiana University's Riley Children’s Health, safe sleep guidelines do advocate for free-flowing air throughout the crib or bassinet where the baby sleeps, and fans are a good way to increase air circulation in the room. "Parents should take care to not place a fan within reach of their baby or toddler," she says in an interview with Romper, "as this will help to prevent injury to fingers or strangulation from loose cords." Dixon also suggests that fans that clip to the side of a crib should not be used because they pose a risk of injury.
Though fans are a great way to improve air circulation in a room, many parents worry that fans will make their baby cold. However, Dr. Mark Gettleman, M.D., Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (F.A.A.P.) of The Everett Clinic in Marysville, Washington negates this notion. "The main fear of the baby being too cold is that they could get a cold from it," he says in an interview with Romper, "but that is a myth." Colds are caused by viruses, not by being cold. As long as the general temperature is comfortable, wind versus no wind is irrelevant, he notes.
Gettleman also points out that there are studies that show using a fan in the baby's room may actually decrease the risk of SIDS and sudden death by removing the carbon dioxide discharged from the baby during respiration.
According to a study published by the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, the risk of SIDS can be lowered by 72 percent simply by having a fan on in the room. And, if you are following all other safe sleep practices like putting your baby to sleep on their back and no loose bedding, adding a fan can reduce your baby's risk of SIDS by another 16 percent, noted The New York Times.
If you are putting your baby on their back to sleep, not using any blankets or bumpers, keeping the room cool, and not overdressing, it turns out you can still do more to reduce your baby's risk of SIDS — add a fan. Besides, the white noise is helpful for getting your baby to sleep, too, and who wants to pass that up?