Air Conditioners & Babies
Keeping your baby cool during the summer months is important to reduce the risk of your child overheating. According to the American SIDS Institute, overheating can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Air conditioners help regulate the temperature indoors and in cars on hot and humid days.
Benefits and Recommendations
Air conditioning can play a key role in maintaining a comfortable room temperature. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that infants are more susceptible to heat stress, so the use of air conditioners provides protection against heat-related illness and death. The temperature of a room should be comfortable for an adult in light clothing. In a Parents article, Alan Greene suggests that cool temperatures -- between 65 and 70 degrees -- can also help improve your baby’s sleep.
While air conditioners are meant to make a room more comfortable, they can also make an interior space too cold. In an article in Medill Reports -- a publication from Northwestern University’s Medill school -- Author Jessica Bylander reports that air conditioning set too low can cause hypothermia in infants. Parkside Pediatrics cautions caregivers about judging a baby’s temperature by his hands or feet. Instead, the pediatricians recommend feeling your baby’s neck or chest to determine whether he is too hot or too cold. Another concern is that air conditioning can spread germs. The Cardiff University website warns that air conditioning may contribute to the spread of the common cold viruses.
The air from your air conditioning should never blow directly on your infant. This can be uncomfortable for your child and can also make your child too cold. When setting up your nursery, position the crib or bassinet in a location where air will not blow directly on your baby. Take notice of the air vents in other indoor locations, such as restaurants, and your car to help ensure your child is not exposed directly to the air blowing from an air conditioner.
Alternatives to Keep Infants Cool
When air conditioning is not available, alternatives are available to help keep your infant cool in warm weather. Dress your infant in loose-fitting clothing made from light fabrics, such as cotton. Use fans and dehumidifiers in your home and other indoor spaces to regulate the temperature. Similar to air conditioners, the air from fans should never blow directly on your infant. On very hot days when the risk of overheating increases, visit a public location that has air conditioning, such as a library or mall.