A small child prepares to do a somersault in their bedroom.
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Heating and airing a child’s room: how to do it right

Torben Schröder

When it gets too cold, we adults simply put on thicker socks or turn up the heat. If we feel too hot, we let some fresh air into the house. A child, on the other hand, doesn’t yet understand the connection between warm clothing and the sensation of having a warm body. That makes it all the more important for you as parents to ensure that your children feel comfortable at room temperature. In this article we explain how to heat and air children’s rooms properly.

In this article

The right room temperature in a child’s room

Unlike adults, children and babies still have a very vulnerable immune system. As parents, you know that your children will get sick mainly when they are out and about – at daycare, at school or on playdates with friends. Up to twelve infections per year are by no means unusual, according to the pediatrician’s practice “Praxis am Bahnhof” in Rüti (Canton of Zurich). According to the official blog of the practice, children who attend daycare can get ill even more frequently. This means it’s advisable to reduce the risk of colds to a minimum, at least in your own four walls – by heating and airing the rooms properly.

Room temperature

Adults often prefer a lower temperature in the bedroom – whereas they like it nice and warm in the sitting room. The heaters are set to different temperatures accordingly.

A child’s room is a bedroom and sitting room at the same time. To make sure your children will feel comfortable, it’s still important to adapt the temperature in the room to the time of day and physical activity. This means you will need to adjust the settings – and this of course is something that only the adults can take charge of.

Temperature at night

To make sure a child gets a restful night’s sleep, the temperature should be 16 to 18 degrees Celsius.

Side note: the right nightwear

To prevent children from getting too cold while they sleep, you should adopt the layering principle, regardless of age. The general rule is that the thicker the sleeping bag, the thinner the nightwear. The tog value represents a useful guide. This indicates the thickness of the sleeping bag. In many stores you will also find a table that indicates suitable nightwear depending on the room temperature. Even though the recommended temperature is 16 to 18 degrees, this is usually not feasible in summer.

Good to know: babies and toddlers get grouchy when they are cold. But if they get too hot, they don’t necessarily complain. It is therefore important that you do not rely solely on the standard specifications of manufacturers. You should touch the child’s neck regularly, especially if you have a newborn or baby. If their neck is cold, then the child is cold as well. If their neck is sweaty, it’s a sign that the child is too warm. If their neck feels pleasantly warm, then their sleepwear is just right.

Important: you should always opt for a sleeping bag that fits the child’s size, even if this means that you have to buy new ones more often. This is because your child can slide his or her head into a sleeping bag that is too big. This poses a risk of suffocation. You should also avoid using blankets, at least for the first six months of a baby’s life. These can slide onto the face of the child and lead to SIDS.

Older children also benefit from the layering principle – pajamas and blankets will keep them nice and warm, even at low temperatures.

Temperature during the day

During the day, the ideal temperature is 20 to 21 degrees Celsius – so your children won’t be too cold when they are resting and won’t get all sweaty when they are playing and jumping around.

Air humidity

Unlike the temperature, air humidity is not really noticeable – for adults or children. However, it is just as crucial for achieving a healthy indoor climate. It’s best to purchase a hygrometer to keep an eye on the humidity level. Ideally, it should be between 40 and 60 percent – this also applies to adult’s bedrooms and the sitting room. If you don’t have a hygrometer, it also helps to observe your child or baby. If, for example, they cough more while asleep or in the morning, this can be an indication of low humidity.

In this case you should try to increase the humidity level. After a particularly hot and dry summer day, simply hanging out wet cotton cloths once would probably be sufficient. If you want to permanently bring more humidity into the child’s room, you should consider buying a room humidifier – there are special devices for toddlers and babies.

While children are asleep, they release moisture into the air through their breath. As described above, the air is a little cooler at night and can therefore absorb less moisture. The value of 60 percent is reached in no time. If, on top of that, your child also sweats a lot at night, the air becomes saturated even faster. Misted windows in the morning are an unmistakable sign of excessive room humidity.

There are measures you can take to solve this problem. First, remove all sources of moisture such as wet clothing, plants or the aquarium, if you have one. Effective remedies are also available in the form of child-friendly dehumidifiers. Never place bowls containing salt or cat litter in the room – these would harm your child. The easiest way is to air the room correctly, as explained in the following section.

Close-up of a sleeping child in bed.

Not too cold, no sweating, no coughing – a restful sleep is extremely important for children.

Correctly airing children’s rooms

Proper ventilation is almost as important as proper heating. This is because a constant exchange of air helps to regulate both temperature and humidity, and ultimately ensures the well-being of your children. There are different ways to air a room in the winter and in the summer.

Airing in the winter

Although people don’t like opening the windows in the winter months because it’s cold outside, it’s still necessary to replace the air in a child’s room.

In order to prevent a room from cooling down too much, during the colder season you should air it at least three times a day, for five minutes each time. This is most effective if you create a draft with opposite windows in other rooms. This draft draws the oxygen-poor, humid air outside very quickly and creates space for oxygen-rich dry air to enter from outside.

Your children should of course not be in the room during this time. And you should also switch off the heating to avoid running up unnecessary additional heating costs. Before your child goes to bed, you should also air the room briefly so that the air will be as rich in oxygen and free of excess moisture as possible overnight.

Many adults sleep with the window tilted open at night – yes, even in winter. You should avoid this in your child’s room so that they don’t cool down too much and find themselves sleeping in a draft.

Airing in the summer

Even in the warm months, the air in the room fills up with moisture from our breath, which needs to be removed in the morning. Since it is warmer outside in summer, there is no hurry to air the room. As in the winter, take the opportunity to air the room when the child is not present. Simply open the window in the child’s room for 20 to 30 minutes. This will allow air to circulate, even without a draft.

If the outside temperatures are extremely high in summer, you should avoid airing in the middle of the day. Instead, air the room very early in the morning – when most children are already awake anyway – and in the evening before they go to bed. To allow even more air to circulate, for example before their afternoon nap, simply open the door to the landing. Even that will help a little. To speed up the process, you can use a fan that pushes the warm air outside.

Heaters for your child’s room

Many heaters installed in households carry certain risks. Even at medium operating temperature, the heating elements can be too hot for small children. It is therefore essential to conceal them with pipe cover strips or other coverings. Older children can injure themselves on the sharp edges as they play and jump around in the room. Ideally, heating systems should be inaccessible to youngsters.

Below we present some means of heating that can be used as well as or instead of conventional convector heaters that run on oil or water.

A toddler stands on a radiator and looks out of a window.

A dangerous climbing maneuver: be careful that your child does not burn or cut him or herself on the heater.

Infrared heating: heat from above

Infrared heating does not heat the air directly, but instead heats objects and surfaces in the vicinity. The radiated heat is then reflected back from these surfaces, heating the whole room. There is usually a lot of furniture in a child’s room. This is an advantage for operating an infrared heating system.

It is a well-known fact that heat rises. However, children are more likely to be in the lower third of a room. As a result, the heat emitted by a conventional radiator practically only grazes them on the way up. You can and should install an infrared heater on the ceiling. Firstly, your children won’t be able to reach the heating plate and secondly, the heat will be distributed more evenly throughout the room.

For a child’s room with a floor area of 15 square meters, you need a heating plate with dimensions of around 120 x 60 centimeters and an output of 800 watts. This will cost around 500 francs.

But watch out: the surface of the heating plate can heat up to 90 degrees Celsius. As a result, it’s better to install the infrared heater on the ceiling rather than on a wall.

Decorative heating: designing the heating to match the room

The company Heatwell from Bünzen offers a very special way of heating a child’s room: the infrared heaters for wall mounting are covered with a special safety glass that you can have your desired motif printed on. For example, your child might appreciate seeing the characters of his or her favorite show. Other versions of this heater take on the appearance of a mirror or a blackboard that can be written on and are therefore more suitable for older children.

Underfloor heating: not very suitable

We adults love underfloor heating: it generates a consistent level of heat, creates a comfortably warm feeling and frees the room from obstructing radiators. So underfloor heating should also be ideal for a child’s room, right? This is only partly true.

As described above, children need a room temperature that is slightly lower at night than during the day. An underfloor heating system reacts very slowly or insufficiently to adjustment. In particular, it is practically impossible to change the settings according to the time of day. What’s more, underfloor heating usually serves many rooms in a household at the same time. If you adjust the temperature, you will also feel the effects in your sitting room.

One solution is to have a separate heating circuit for the child’s room and to set a lower basic temperature, for instance. However, you would have to make further purchases for this, for example to install another heating circuit pump. If you are interested in this type of solution, it’s best to contact a specialist company that will work out an individual concept for you. You can find suitable companies at houzy.ch.

Conclusion: stay alert

When heating a child’s room, there are some “rules” to be observed: it should be quite warm during the day and cool at night. Make sure that the heater isn’t a danger for the little ones. Regular airing is just as important as proper heating. Always keep your children and their surroundings in sight: if your child is freezing cold or all sweaty, something is wrong. If the windows are heavily fogged up in the morning, then likewise.

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