Should You Put a Ceiling Fan in the Nursery? Pros & Cons Explained

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When you’re planning your baby’s nursery, two of the things that you’ll want to consider are the temperature of the room and the airflow.

If you live somewhere where the climate can be hot and humid in the summer, then putting a ceiling fan in the nursery can be an efficient way to cool the room.

A ceiling fan is a permanent fixture, you may need to call in a professional to install it and it could be very expensive.

So before you bite the bullet, let’s chat: Should you put a ceiling fan in the nursery?

A ceiling fan can be a great choice for a nursery because of the consistent airflow — which keeps baby comfortable and (according to some studies) can reduce the risk of SIDS. The spinning blades will always be out of baby’s reach, as opposed to a tower fan.

However, if you want to be able to dim the light in the nursery, keep in mind that can be tricky with a ceiling fan — you’ll either need a remote-operated model or the help of an electrician to make it work properly.

Let’s take a look at some more pros and cons of ceiling fans in nurseries.

Benefits of a ceiling fan in the nursery

Ceiling fans have many benefits, particularly when compared to an air conditioning unit.

Here are some of the reasons you might want to put a ceiling fan in your baby’s nursery.

1. A ceiling fan can reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome

A study published in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine showed that the use of a ceiling fan during sleep was associated with a 72% reduction in the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

The reduction in risk was more pronounced in warmer environments. 

The ideal room temperature for a baby is between 68° and 72°F and studies have shown that the risk of SIDS increases in the summer. 

If your house gets hotter than the recommended temperature, then a ceiling fan is one of the best ways to cool the room.

(For more, check out whether you might need an air purifier or humidifier in the nursery.)

2. You can keep a window open with a fan

Another thing you can do to reduce the risk of SIDS is to have a window open.

An open window will keep the levels of carbon dioxide in the room under control, ensuring that your baby gets enough oxygen while they sleep.

While it’s not recommended to open a window if you’re using air conditioning, a fan will work well with an open window to circulate the fresh outside air around the room.

3. The noise from a ceiling fan may help your baby sleep

Many people dislike ceiling fans because they can be noisy.

However, the gentle noise created by a ceiling fan is ‘white noise’, which means that the sound contains many frequencies with equal intensities.

White noise is a very relaxing sound and it will muffle out any noise from traffic and neighbors.

Air conditioners produce white noise too, but those tend to kick on and off which could cause a disturbance in the night.

The sound from a ceiling fan is more constant.

4. Ceiling fans are out of reach

The location of a ceiling fan means that it would be impossible for your baby to reach it.

The same can’t be said for a freestanding or tabletop fan which could cause a real danger if your baby were to grab it.

Once your children get older, if you replace the crib with bunk beds you should ensure that the top bunk is at least five feet away from the ceiling fan so that children cannot reach it.

(A small bonus Pro here, ceiling fans can help circulate air to help with poopy odors!)

Drawbacks of a ceiling fan in the nursery

Ceiling fans do also have some drawbacks.

Here are the things you need to be aware of if you decide to put a fan overhead.

1. It’s tricky to regulate the temperature with a fan

With an air conditioning unit, you can set it to your desired temperature. With a fan, it’s no so easy.

You may find that as the temperature naturally drops at night, your baby could become a little too cold as the fan blades continue to rotate at the same speed.

2. A fan can dry your baby’s skin and eyes

A ceiling fan can make the air in the room drier.

The movement of air over your baby’s nose and eyes can evaporate the moisture, drying them out.

Babies’ skin can be incredibly sensitive. If you find that you’re needing to moisturize your baby’s skin more, you may need to look to the ceiling fan as a potential cause.

And if your baby has skin conditions like eczema, then anything that dries the skin further should be avoided.

3. You’ll need to plan the nursery layout careful with a ceiling fan

If you place the crib directly beneath the fan, the air flow on baby could be a little too intense.

The most comfortable place for your baby to sleep will be away from the fan so that they feel a gentle breeze rather than a blast of cool air.

In smaller rooms, you may find that it’s impossible to place the crib away from the fan. This might be a reason not to get one.

4. You may need to use a remote to dim the light from a ceiling fan

When I installed a fan in our baby’s nursery and tried to dim the light using a wall slider, the fan started making an odd humming noise.

I didn’t realize that you’re not supposed to do that!

Because the electricity flowing into the fan powers both the fan itself and the light, the light usually can’t be dimmed with a simple wall slider.

You’ll need to either choose a ceiling fan that has a remote control or have a third-part remote installed on your existing ceiling fan — if you want to be able to dim the light.

(You could also have an electrician install the proper wiring so the light can be dimmed from the wall.)

Some fan remotes have a beep, which could disturb your sleeping baby.

Remote controls are also easy to misplace, particularly in a cluttered nursery.

If you want to be able to easily dim the lights from the wall, you’ll need to choose a fan that has this function, and you’ll probably need the help of a qualified electrician to install it.

Alternatives to nursery ceiling fans

If you live in a warm humid climate, then opening a window won’t be enough to reduce the heat in the nursery.

Running the AC all night can use a lot of electricity and lead to dry skin and eyes.

But, before you go out and buy a ceiling fan for the nursery, here are some alternatives that you may want to consider.

A desktop fan

Desktop fans can cost as little as $10, which is much cheaper than a ceiling fan.

There’s no installation to worry about as you simply plug it into an electrical outlet.

A desktop fan can be easily moved around the house, which is ideal for when your baby naps in another room.

If you’re worried about your baby touching the fan, you can place it out of reach on a dresser.

You’ll just need to make sure that the cord is hidden away too.

A tower fan

Many people like to use a tower fan in the bedroom as they’re quieter, yet sometimes even more powerful than ceiling fans.

Tower fans are compact and portable, so you can easily move this type of fan to a place in the nursery where it won’t be blowing directly onto your baby.

A tower fan may be the best option for a small nursery.

However, you’ll want to make sure that it’s turned off and out of reach when your baby is crawling around on the floor as it could cause a hazard if they were to touch it.

A white noise machine

If the temperature of your house is generally cool enough even in the summer, then you may not need a fan at all and opening windows and dressing your baby in lighter clothing could be enough.

If you like the white noise from a ceiling fan, then you may instead want to just buy a white noise machine.

These are pretty cheap and have several different noises to choose from.

Alternatively, some baby monitors can create white noise, or you could play a video of white noise on YouTube.

Ceiling fans vs standing fans (For SIDS, airflow, safety, aesthetics, etc.)

There hasn’t been a conclusive study on the difference between ceiling fans vs standing or tower fans when it comes to SIDS prevention in newborns.

However, here are a few points to consider.

Ceiling fans offer more optimal air movement. Their central location in the room helps evenly distribute airflow without the need to “aim” a blast of air at the crib area.

Tower or standing fans can be moved, which is great and convenient, but they may not make much of a difference unless pointed directly at baby.

However, tower fans do provide a nice bit of white noise! That can be helpful as baby learns to sleep. Ceiling fans are usually close to silent.

You should also keep in mind that when baby begins to crawl and walk, a tower fan becomes a hazard — it can be knocked over or baby might decide to fiddle with the plug.

And of course, installation of a ceiling fan is time consuming and/or expensive, which is a major drawback if your nursery room already has a standard light fixture. A decent tower fan will be far less expensive and require no installation at all.

Wrapping Up

Depending on where you live, you may not need to cool the nursery at all.

But, if you need more than an open window to reduce the heat, then you’ll want to consider some kind of fan or air conditioning.

If you have the budget to have it installed (or can do it yourself), a ceiling fan is one of the best kinds of fans for a nursery as they’re always out of reach.

However, if your nursery is small, you may be better with a portable fan that you can move so that air isn’t blowing directly onto your baby’s face.

While you’re planning your nursery layout, be sure to take a look at some of our other articles in this series:

Hope this helps!