Professor Ed Mitchell
SUDI Academic Expert
Auckland University

Ed Mitchell qualified at St George’s Hospital Medical School in London and has worked in the UK, Zambia and New Zealand.

He was the Cure Kids Professor of Child Health Research at the University of Auckland from 2001 to 2015 and is now a Professorial Research Fellow. He has published over 400 original papers, particularly on the epidemiology of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). He was awarded a Doctor of Science for his work on “The Epidemiology and Prevention of SIDS” by the University of London. He has received several awards for his landmark studies of SIDS and in 2009 was made a fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Professor Ed Mitchell answers questions from the community.

What temp is best for our baby’s room?

This simple question is actually quite complex! There is little information on the room temperature when the death occurred. Researchers have tried to estimate the room temperature from the environmental (outside) temperature, but this is difficult, especially if room heating and insulation need to be taken into account. So one has to rely on case reports. I’ve reviewed cases where the room temperature was very high, but more frequently the rooms are cold. Is this a risk from the cold or is this a marker of poor, disadvantaged families living in poorly heated and uninsulated homes? I don’t know.
Recommendations vary: 16-20°C and 20-22°C have both been recommended. Not everyone has a thermometer, so I’d recommend a temperature that is comfortable for you with a light jersey. Plunket has sensible advice on their website. They recommend:

  • the [baby’s] room is well aired with the door open, especially if you use a heater
  • the temperature should feel comfortable for a lightly-clothed adult - the temperature around the cot will be more even if it’s away from windows
  • the room is not too hot - using an electric heater with a thermostat is best (fan heaters may overheat the room and gas heaters can give off dangerous fumes)
  • the cot is away from windows, curtains, blind cords, power points and heaters.
  • temperature
  • heater