Why not use a fan on baby?
August 3, 2018 2:30 PM   Subscribe

I searched for an answer to this question online, and everybody is telling you not to point a fan at your infant, but nobody says why. So I don't get it, a fan moves air around and if this air hits skin it helps evaporation and cools the baby down.

Why would I not want to do this, especially if it's 28° inside, the fan blades and the surrounding are are dust free and we monitor fluid intake and output? This would be the only reason I can think off, that as more sweat evaporates, the baby has to drink more. But then, I could simply swipe the baby from time to time with a wet washcloth.
posted by SweetLiesOfBokonon to Health & Fitness (14 answers total)
Fans may also have a preventative effect against SIDS, so having one in the room where the baby sleeps is probably a good idea.
But I wouldn't point one directly at a baby because I would think the baby would probably get too cold.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 2:39 PM on August 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

Fan Death?
posted by Stewriffic at 2:39 PM on August 3, 2018 [4 favorites]

It's because babies are absolutely terrible at regulating their own temperature. Even on the hottest day, there is a risk you can chill an infant in the current from a fan. You can however point a fan very near an infant to move cooler air towards her, just maybe not directly on her.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:40 PM on August 3, 2018 [15 favorites]

A baby to adults surface to body ratio is higher they can lose heat 4 times faster than an adult and they cannot tell you they are cold or move out of the way of the fan. Having the fan in the room to move the air around is great and can help minimise the risk of SIDs as others have said, but babies can get chilled very easily which is why you want to avoid pointing it directly at a baby as they chill way faster than adults.
posted by wwax at 2:46 PM on August 3, 2018 [8 favorites]

I read in the Happiest Baby on the Block book that it's because the noise from the fan could damage the baby's hearing. The author of the book says that evidence is mixed and he believes it can be calming.
posted by entropyiswinning at 2:51 PM on August 3, 2018

I wouldn't point the fan directly at the baby as others have suggested either. Anecdotally, my mom is not from Korea but another Asian country, and she freaked out when she thought that I would point a fan at my baby or let him sit directly in front of the AC. She mentions stories about babies suffocating or something. I can't find proof of this, but it's a prevalent myth.
posted by jj's.mama at 3:01 PM on August 3, 2018

IANAD, but the only legit-sounding badness about this seems to be that the fan may be at those angles that blow directly into/around the baby's ear. As adults we know to roll over or move or avoid those angles, but babies may not and so yes, could end up damaging hearing or at least give them cranky headaches or bad sleep.

So, yes, not directly at baby. Otherwise, I say go for it. My siblings and I all grew up with fans blowing on us, and I'm the only one with tinnitus!
posted by rokusan at 3:15 PM on August 3, 2018

A ceiling fan is quiet and doesn’t blow directly in the baby’s face.

To be clear, fan death is absolutely not a real thing.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:55 PM on August 3, 2018 [7 favorites]

There are many strong beliefs about babies. it's absurdly humid where I am right now, and the fan helps some. Check the baby's neck to see if she's cool or warm; use your common sense. I might err on the side of the fan being on low. Babies have been born in hot and cold countries and seem to have survived, which is not to be casual about keeping them safe, but they are both insanely fragile and pretty rugged.
posted by theora55 at 7:32 PM on August 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

You can over cool a baby fast. I would sleep next to a baby with a fan on, but not leave a fan pointed at a baby alone sleeping because their temperature goes unmonitored and the baby can't move away from the fan like a toddler can. Ceiling fans are gentler.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 7:46 PM on August 3, 2018

Another tack: if the baby gets accustomed to having a fan on while sleeping, it may be hard for the baby to sleep without the fan noise later. But now and then at especially hot times, I agree with a fan that is not pointed directly at the baby.
posted by lakeroon at 8:38 PM on August 3, 2018

As a baby haver in hot weather, I absolutely point a fan at my baby. At 28 C (82 F!) if it is HIGHLY unlikely that moving air is going to somehow dangerously cool a baby. It is much ,much ,much safer to have a cold baby than a hot baby.

I even got a fan with a clip for the stroller, its great! People really do have incredibly strong feelings about baby safety without much evidence either way. A midwife told me once that a hand on the belly is the best place to see if they are at a good temperature.
posted by stormygrey at 12:40 AM on August 4, 2018 [5 favorites]

I remember Toronto Sick Kids hospital cooling my feverish baby brother down with a fan pointed directly at him - blowing across a bowl of ice. This was the early 70s and seemed pretty routine.
posted by bonobothegreat at 5:07 AM on August 4, 2018

I don't think a fan blowing on an infant would actually harm it per se, but please be aware that some babies and young children cannot tolerate the feel of wind on their bare skin (just as some can't tolerate wool or other fabrics) and will scream bloody murder. My son was like that. Also as some have mentioned the sound of the fan motor may be disturbing to him/her as well. I suggest trying a fan at different speeds and staying close by to see what the baby's reaction is.
posted by RRgal at 12:53 PM on August 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

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