It isn’t easy to leave the baby alone in the nursery on a chilly winter night. We adults have a number of options when it comes to choosing a heater. But all types of heating equipment are not safe for a baby.
Adults can make the temperature adjustments when they feel uneasy due to overheating or when it is too cold. However, a baby can’t tell anyone if the room is not at a comfortable temperature.
So, it is up to the parents to use best judgement to make sure the baby is warm and safe. However, it is not as easy as it sounds. A myriad of questions arise in a mother’s mind when she is trying to look for options for keeping the baby warm. We have presented a number of safe ways (apart from heaters) to keep the baby warm in this write up.
Talking about heaters, although the type of heaters that are safe have been discussed here, there are a number of determining factors for the right thermostat setting.
The location of the room in the warmer or cooler part of the house, thermostat setting, size of the room, drafty windows and doors, insulation of the house, and baby clothing are a few things that need to be looked into before setting the temperature. Finally, if the parents are using a heater for the first time in the baby’s room, they should check the baby at regular intervals to ensure the baby is not too hot. Here are some things that can make a heater in the baby’s room dangerous.
15 Dry, Flaky, Itchy Skin
Cold winter weather soaks up the moisture from the skin and if we add heaters and dry air, the skin dries up fast. This combination is certainly not good for the little baby’s skin. Since babies’ skin is so fragile, their skin gets dried up fast. Dry skin causes itching and chapping that can be quite uncomfortable. Natural oils in the skin provide a protective barrier to outside irritants and when the baby’s skin is dry, these irritants can lead to infection.
While the stores are full of lotions and other moisturizers labeled safe for baby, it can be hard to choose one that will work for your baby. It also can depend on how dry your baby’s skin is. When it comes to moisturizing, lotion is basically the least moisturizing, then there are creams, and then ointments; one product being thicker in consistency than another. Products that contain petrolatum and lanolin are the best, but can also leave a greasy feel. Products with colloidal oatmeal can cut down on any itchiness. Products containing chamomile, cocoa butter, shea butter, safflower, jojoba and avocado oils are also recommended.
14 Nasal Passages Dry Up
The mucus in our nose, which traps unwanted particles from entering our body, also dries up as a result of dry air in a room. When mucus dries up, our body is susceptible to get infections and the baby’s immune system is not yet strong enough to protect itself. While we can tell when our nose is dry, we can’t really see what’s happening inside the baby’s nose.
Another reason that a lot of people get flu or other infections during winter is that bacteria have a capacity to stay longer in dry air. Moreover, when the heater is turned on it first throws up a cloud of dust which may contain bacteria too. Therefore the heater should be turned on at least 10 to 15 minutes before bringing the baby in the room. Cold or warm steam humidifiers can help alleviate the problems of dry skin and dry nasal passages. Parents should check with their pediatrician for humidifiers that are recommended for baby’s rooms.
13 Increases The Risk Of SIDS
If the temperature in the baby’s room becomes too hot it may also increase the chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Babies can become overheated easily and in the winter babies are more at risk of SIDS. The National Institute of Health recommends that babies be dressed in light or semi-warm pajamas, on their backs and in a room that is comfortable for adults.
Heaters such as fan-based electric and halogen heaters that also reduce the moisture in the air are not good for a baby’s health in general. First of all, it may make the room stuffy and low on oxygen. The worst part is when the nasal passages become dry. Dry nostrils may cause multiple health problems. Flu, irritable sinuses or other infections are contracted easily if the nasal mucus dries up. Leaving the baby’s room door open a bit and placing a bowl of water in the room are also good practices.
12 Room Can Become Too Warm
Radiant heat heaters are far better than gas or propane heaters as they use electricity to heat the area rather than a fuel that is burned. Still, the door of the baby’s room should be kept a little open to make sure it doesn’t become too hot. Baby’s bed should be kept at a safe distance from the heater, curtains or blinds, windows and power points.
When using a heater for the first time, the parents should set an alarm to wake up and check on the baby at regular intervals and see if the baby is uncomfortable. A baby may cry as a sign of being too warm. If the baby’s back is hot then the room is too warm. Parents can also feel the baby’s ears or kiss the forehead to see if they feel too warm. Instead of setting a higher temperature, a light blanket can be used to over the baby’s bottom half for additional warmth. Babies usually sleep freely and tend to push away the blankets so it is better to rely on clothing than blankets over the baby. Draft stoppers or heavy drapes can keep the room insulated.
11 Risk Of Burns
There have been many cases of toddlers who burnt their hands due to space heaters. Toddlers are difficult to control as they have this superhuman tendency to reach everywhere they should not. Once the baby is crawling, the heaters should be kept out of reach of babies. Using child-safe heaters at home is the best option, so that even if children touch it accidentally they won’t get burned. Oil-filled, radiant heat room heaters are considered to be the safest as they don’t burn any fuel or have hot coils, nor does their surface get extremely hot.
Oil filled heaters do not heat up the surface and also maintain the oxygen and humidity level in the air. Ceiling fan heaters or cove heaters could be another safe option for kid’s rooms, but it may alter the oxygen and humidity levels. Also, the heater should be placed at a minimum 3-foot distance from flammables and also it should have a barrier so that toddlers are unable to reach it.
It is normal to get nosebleeds in young children. The dry air inside the home due to heating causes dryness inside the nose. This dryness can result in cracks in the soft and delicate skin inside the nose and then nosebleeds. Usually a nose bleed doesn’t last long, but in case it is heavy, then the child should be taken to the hospital immediately. Dehydration could be another reason for nosebleeds. Dehydration can become worse due to space heaters.
Using a cool mist humidifier can infuse moisture into the air and keep the nasal passages moist. Letting the hot shower run for some time in the bathroom can bring the humidity levels up. The babies should never be given frequent baths in winter as it may deprive the delicate skin of oils and make it dry. Never let a toddler pick his nose and try to distract him when he does that.
9 Risks Of Using A Space Heater
Most space heaters have a thermostat that can automatically regulate the room temperature. They come in several different types such as ceramic or electric coil, radiant or convection. Some heaters can be hot to the touch, or require fuel such as propane that can create a carbon monoxide or fire hazard. It is important to determine the kind of space heater that will be most economical, as well, as most work on electricity and can increase a family’s electric bill considerably. Space heaters work efficiently in most homes but rarely, the thermostat might not function properly and may heat up the room like a sauna or allow a room to become extremely cold.
The type of heater chosen should be just for the baby’s room and not for heating more than just one room as heating more would be inefficient and could lead to the baby being too cold in their crib. The heater should be one that can be left unattended for hours and still be safe, so that the entire family can have a good night’s rest.
8 Fluctuation In Room Temperature
It may take some trial and error and a handheld thermometer, but there are times when it is difficult to keep the baby’s room at a comfortable temperature. The reason could be drafty windows, or placing the room heater too close to the door or window where all the heat leaves the room rather than warming it. It is also possible even with central heating, that heat throughout the home isn’t consistent and the temperature of the baby’s room will have to be controlled separately.
Setting the thermostat on a lower temperature is always better than higher, as the body always gets better rest at a cooler temperature than warmer. The home should be at a temperature comfortable for the adults, and during the winter that may include the use of a sweater while indoors to cut on energy costs. The baby should be dressed warmly, perhaps in a blanket sleeper with the room at around 70℉. There are studies that suggest a cooler sleeping temperature enhances our sleep and warmer temperatures disturb it.
Some parents suggest 70℉ degrees in winter is an ideal temperature, but it actually depends on individual house requirements and comfort.
7 Gas Heaters
Gas heaters can pose a health hazard for the baby. Gas heaters release carbon monoxide and if it is used overnight in baby’s room the gas may build up in the room. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas so it is difficult to detect its presence in a room and a baby cannot tell you if they are feeling the side effects.
Gas heaters need to serviced or checked frequently by licensed gas fitters. Headaches are a common sign of the presence of carbon monoxide in the air. Even though some people have gas detectors at home, they sound an alarm only when the gas level in the air reaches an unacceptably high level, which could be lethal for an infant. Continuous exposure to carbon monoxide can build up in the body and cause long-term side effects.
Gas heaters may be easy on the pocket, but it is not worth risking lives for saving a few pennies. Many families have suffered awful tragedies because their gas heater was leaking carbon monoxide, so make sure you have an alarm, and have the heater checked regularly for leaks.
6 Gas Ovens
Although not in the baby’s room, many people think that using their kitchen natural gas or propane ovens for heating will be a safe and economical way to heat the baby’s room by keeping the door of the oven open. However, this is extremely dangerous. It will fill the house with carbon monoxide in no time and can severely affect young children. When the metal door of the gas oven is kept open it cools the metal shield above the burner and this increases the production of carbon monoxide dramatically. It may also lead to carbon monoxide poisoning and even death if the house is sealed for drafts.
Gas and propane ovens should be tested regularly as they are a major source of carbon monoxide in homes. The gas oven should be ventilated directly outside the house to protect everyone from side effects of carbon monoxide. An exhaust fan that is of good quality and makes little noise should also be installed and used whenever such combustion appliances are in use to expel the pollutants from the house.
5 Kerosene Or Paraffin Heaters
Kerosene heaters should never be left on while sleeping and should never be left unattended. If it gets knocked over accidentally, it can immediately cause a fire. The surface of the heater also gets heated up, which can result in burns if touched.
Kerosene is an organic fuel and produces high amounts of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and soot especially when it is runs out of oxygen in the room. Even a small exposure of these pollutants can make someone sick, either immediately or over a period of time. Babies, elderly and people with respiratory problems such as asthma are at a higher risk of being affected. Babies would be especially at risk because of their small size.
Apart from that, it can be a fire hazard if kept close to combustible material such as drapes and furniture. Such heaters are a big no-no for a house with kids. It is even illegal to have such heaters in some places.
4 No Electric Blanket
Babies are at a risk of getting burns from electric blankets, hot water bottles or heat packs. As long as the baby is dressed warmly in layered clothing she doesn’t need an electric blanket. But in case the house is extremely cold and heaters aren’t working then it could be used as a last and temporary option. It can be used to warm up the bed and turned off before the baby is put to sleep, as electric blankets have been known to cause overheating or even fire.
Over a period of time the electromagnetic waves emitted from the blanket are not considered good for health. However, short term exposure to the low frequency waves does not cause any harm. But it is risky to put a baby inside it for its fire hazard. Sleeping bags and Grobags are a better option than any blanket. If a hot water bottle is used that also should be removed before putting the baby in bed.
3 Danger Of Dehydration
Using space heaters can make the baby sweat. Regular use of heaters can cause dry skin as already mentioned and dehydration as well. Dehydration makes the skin feel tight and uncomfortable. In babies, it can detected if there are some symptoms such as, if the baby passed 5 to 6 hours without wetting the diapers, looks dull and lethargic, dry or patchy mouth or lips, sunken eyes or fontanel, hands and feet are cold, then it could be a sign of dehydration.
Usually too much dehydration does not occur only due to a heater but other factors may also aggravate dehydration. But the babies need immediate medical help in such a scenario. The doctor will recommend electrolytes with essentials salts to replenish the body. The baby should be given plenty of fluids at regular intervals. Avoid giving any carbonated beverages to the baby. Babies should be made to drink water even before they feel thirsty.
2 Itching Eyes
An increasing number of children are getting dry eyes these days. Central heating makes eyes dry, sore and itchy. Lots of screen time combined with dry air can make the condition of eyes worse. Moreover, children do not even blink their eyes in front of a screen. The eyes become watery as they produce more tears. The body tries to manage this condition on its own. A baby with dry, red eyes is going to be uncomfortable and probably cry. The best remedy for dryness is to get a cool air humidifier and increase the humidity in the home.
A warm damp washcloth can be placed on the eyes at regular intervals if itching persists. There are different types of eye drops available in the market, but not all are made for babies, so consult a doctor before using one for the little one. The ones without any preservatives are better. For a toddler who doesn’t cooperate for eye drops, make the child lie down and then drop the medicine in the inner corner of the eye. It will flow in the moment he opens his eyes.
1 Fire Hazard
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, space heating systems cause around 25,000 fire accidents in residential areas and it results in deaths of approximately 300 people every year. Also, around 6,000 people get burn injuries treated in emergency rooms. After cooking, space heaters are the second leading cause of home fires. It is also the second leading cause of fire deaths at home after smoking.
A research found out that most of these fires occur because the heating equipment is placed in proximity to combustible material. The space heaters should be kept in a child free, combustible free zone of 3 feet and heaters should never be left unsupervised with children. The heating equipment should be regularly serviced and chimneys also should be cleaned regularly. When using a space heater in a baby’s room, keep the door open slightly for ventilation. Buy only those heaters the automatically turn off when tipped over by chance.