When you bring that new little bundle of joy home from the hospital, your first reaction is to wrap him up, snug as a bug in a rug, and make sure he stays warm and cozy. The last thing most new parents would think of doing would be to run a ceiling fan in the nursery, blowing all the air around and giving the baby a chill. But research suggests that might be one of the best things you can do.
A 2008 article published by the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine suggests the use of a ceiling fan in the nursery may lower the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) by up to 72 percent.
According to the article, one factor that may contribute to SIDS is poor air circulation. And when you think about it, it makes sense. We place our babies in a crib with a soft mattress, then surround the crib rails with additional padding, throw in a few stuffed animals and a “blankie” and the baby is completely cradled in cushy softness. However, while the crib is open at the top, the baby is surrounded by padding, so the poor thing is essentially breathing in his own carbon dioxide.
“Rebreathing exhaled carbon dioxide trapped near an infant’s airway by bedding has been suggested as a possible mechanism for the occurrence of SIDS in at-risk infants and may occur with the use of soft bedding, covering the head during sleep, and use of the prone sleep position.”
Now, before you rush out to buy one of those turbo-jet fans, it’s important to note that the main concern is not to whip up a windstorm, but simply to provide ample air circulation in the nursery, and especially over the crib. Since the nursery is typically one of the smaller rooms in the household, make sure you purchase the right size fan.
Other tips to help improve the air quality in the baby’s room include:
- Have some source for fresh air. An open window is great, or keep the door at least partially opened.
- Make sure curtains and window treatments don’t block the airflow.
- Secure bumper pads an inch or two above the mattress level to allow room for airflow.
- Don’t surround baby with stuffed animals and pillows that might block air circulation.
- Don’t turn up the thermostat to make the nursery warmer.
- Don’t use carriages and portable cribs with raised sides indoors.
- Pay particular attention to air circulation if you heat or cook with gas or kerosene.
- New carpeting can have heavy fumes that may effect baby’s breathing.
- Carpet cleaning chemicals also have heavy fumes.
- Put off heavy home remodeling that may cause a lot of dust until the baby is at least 6 months old.
If you’re concerned that a ceiling fan might make the baby cold, it’s important to understand how they work. Ceiling fans don’t cool the air, they simply circulate the air and cause a breeze to flow gently over your skin. Dress baby appropriately, turn the fan on low or medium, and the fan will pull the carbon dioxide from the crib area, allowing fresh air to circulate over and around the little angel while he sleeps.