Top tips for keeping kids cool at bed time

Susanne Willekes 18 July 2022

With unprecedented hot weather across the UK, Child Sleep Coach Susanne Willekes shares advice on how to keep kids cool 

While we all love a bit of summer sunshine, sustained spikes of warm weather can play havoc with our sleep. This is especially true for small children, and many parents are likely struggling to get their little ones to bed. 

With weather in the UK hitting rarely-seen highs, and expected to last for several days more, we spoke with Susanne Willekes, Child Sleep Coach and GoStudent collaborator, to learn how best to keep kids cool this summer.

Family playing with sprinklers

Don't forget to cool off during the heatwave

Keep the curtains closed all day

While it is tempting to let the sunshine in, it is really important to keep the curtains closed during the day to keep the heat out. If temperatures begin to drop a little at the beginning of the evening, then open all of the windows to allow a breeze into the house. It is also important to remember that heat rises, so if you have an attic room, for example, keep that window open so the heat can escape.  

Fabric matters

Cotton is key when it comes to warm weather. Make sure to use cotton bed covers for your children, and avoid other, warmer materials. In extreme heat, I’d recommend that, if the beds have plastic covers to protect against bedwetting, you remove those covers, as this material is not breathable.  

Baby sleeping

Wear light, breathable fabric

When it comes to clothing, let your baby or toddler sleep in a light onesie and a nappy. Older kids can sleep in their underwear if their pyjamas are too warm.  

Cool kids down before putting them to bed

Many kids have bath time as part of their wind-down routine anyhow; however, I recommend that you have your kids take a lukewarm shower or bath just before bedtime when it is very warm. In this instance, body temperature will drop and the sleep hormone, melatonin, rises. Both elements make falling asleep easier. 

"Have your kids take a lukewarm shower or bath just before bedtime"

Another great tip is to put the bedcover, pillowcase, or a stuffed animal in a plastic bag in the freezer for a few hours to cool it down. You can then put it back on the bed right before bedtime. If your child is still warm, you can lightly spray their face and hair with cool water or place a wet washcloth on their forehead.  

Child playing in water

A cool bath is a perfect end to a hot day

Acknowledge their discomfort

Many kids may not have experienced extreme heat before. Give your child some reassurance and acknowledge that the heat makes it more difficult to sleep.

"Many kids may not have experienced extreme heat before"

Explain how you are taking steps to cool them down and listen to their questions or concerns.  

Don't forget about hydration

Keep your children hydrated during the day. To boost hydration, and to cool them further before bedtime, try letting your child suck on ice cubes during the bedtime ritual. Not only is the sensation soothing and hydrating, but it will also help to cool them down.

Read more: How to cool your home without air conditioning

Read more: Should we embrace bi-phasic sleep?

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