5 ways to help babies and children sleep in the heatwave including cooling bedrooms, keeping windows shut and wearing cotton
We're all perhaps finding it harder to sleep during these hot muggy nights and things may be about to get worse with forecasts that temperatures could still be above 30C by 10pm tonight and tomorrow.
But for babies and children who rely on a consistent routine, the evening heat can be harder to manage, so if you're keen to help everyone get a better night's sleep during the heatwave here's some tips.
1. Sunlight and hydration
While there will be times over the course of the hottest parts of the day where you will want to keep your children indoors and away from the heat and strongest sunlight, it is worth remembering children exposed to sunlight often wake fewer times in the night.
So while keeping youngsters well hydrated and ensuring that they're covered with sun cream and a hat it is still worth encouraging some outdoor play where you can. Getting them outside first thing in the morning or in the early evening when it's cooler will both tire them out and expose them to the daylight that's crucial for improved night-time sleep.
2. Aim for a stress free bedtime!
We can all get fractious and stressed when we're hot and children are no different. Thedozyowl.co.uk, which specialises in online sleep advice, says that stress and anxiety common in the heat will lead to greater difficulty getting to sleep so attempt to make their evenings calm wherever possible.
Thedozyowl.co.uk suggests incorporating a warm or tepid bath before bed that will not only help reduce stress and introduce some fun, but also raise the core body temperature slightly which enables the body to drop its temperature by a degree which we then need to help fall asleep. Reading a book or playing a game close to a fan to keep them cool might also ensure they settle better for sleep.
3. Try closing windows
Closing bedroom curtains during the day to keep the sun out and the room cooler for bedtime can be helpful and definitely worth a try as the sun continues to beat down.
However, in Scandinavian countries households also like to keep windows closed during the day to prevent warmer air temperatures from seeping into rooms. If it risks being hottter outside than in, it would definitely be worth finding out what works best for your house!
4. Keeping bedrooms cool
The optimal temperature for a child's bedroom is 16 to 20C suggests the Lullaby Trust.
Using a blackout blind or netting and keeping a fan switched on with a heaped bowl of ice in front of it can help circulate colder air which will help to keep air temperatures on the lower side.
5. Clothing and cool bedding
Wearing light cotton nightwear to bed will allow the skin to breathe and draw sweat away from the body at night - and can often be more successful than going to bed without clothing - or just a nappy - says sleep consultant Lisa Lewis.
On especially warm nights you can use additional measures to keep beds cool such as popping a pillowcase in the freezer for an hour before bedtime which can be a helpful short-term fix to help your child nod off, albeit their body temperature will soon raise it again.
Alternatively, a sock filled with rice and frozen can help make bedding feel cooler and cool down pressure points to provide some relief while hot water bottles filled with iced water can also work just as well.
Contributors to many parenting websites also insist that the gel-filled dog cooling mats, used to help keep animals more comfortable in a heatwave, are also helpful for children and can be slotted under mattresses or bottom sheets to cool beds down before sleep.