When a baby is in a safe and comfortable environment that is neither too hot nor too cold, they have a good night’s sleep. Choosing what they should wear during the night is important to create that comfort. So, how should you dress your baby at night? Although it may sound like a simple question, as a parent, you may wonder about the number of layers, room temperature, or what is too hot or too cold for the baby.
Read this post and learn all you need to know about dressing your baby to sleep.
What Should A Baby Wear To Sleep?
The thumb rule is to dress your baby according to the room temperature. The nightwear or dress in which the baby feels comfortable and safe is considered the right choice. Experts recommend adding one layer to the dress your baby find comfortable wearing. Here are a few basic rules for dressing your little one (1), (2), (3), (4).
- Prefer layers: Consider dressing your baby in layers of comfortable clothing than one thick pajama. It is advisable to add or reduce the layers as the ambient temperature changes.
- Avoid beanies or headgear: Babies can overheat pretty quickly when they sleep wearing beanies or headgear. It can also be a suffocation hazard. Therefore, keep their head and face uncovered when sleeping.
- Avoid loose clothes around the neck: Never put the baby to sleep in clothes that are loose around the neck as these can cause choking or suffocation. A one-piece with built-in feet is a good option.
- Opt for a safe sleeping bag: An appropriately sized sleeping bag is an ideal choice to keep your baby’s head and face uncovered while sleeping. These bags can help avoid overheating, rolling on the stomach, and hanging of legs outside of the cot. You could also choose sleep sacks that are without a hood and are fitted around the neck; these facilitate arm movement and do not allow the baby to slip inside. Depending on the TOG (thermal overall grade), you may choose a sleeping bag for different temperatures.
- Use breathable fabrics: Put younger babies in a breathable, lightweight fabric, such as cotton or muslin, when swaddling or wrapping. Avoid wrapping babies as soon as they start showing signs of rolling over. If you plan to use blankets or sheets, make sure they are also breathable and lightweight.
Ideal Sleeping Temperature For Babies
Babies are highly susceptible to changes in temperature because their bodies are small and still undergoing development. Researchers believe that by the time babies are 11 weeks old, they reach their minimum core body temperature (97.5℉ or 36.4℃) like adults within four hours of bedtime (5). Here are a few things you need to know about the ideal sleeping temperature for babies (3), (4), (5).
- Babies regulate their body temperature through the head and face.
- You might feel that your baby’s feet and hands are cool, but this isn’t the best indication of their temperature. You may figure out your baby’s temperature by touching your baby’s stomach, back, or back of the neck.
- The ideal room temperature for babies is up to 69℉ or 20.5℃.
- A room that is too warm or hot can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
It is important to ensure that your baby sleeps on the back, is not underdressed or overdressed for the room. Dress them according to the room temperature, and keep their face and head uncovered.
How To Dress A Baby For Sleep In The Summer?
While dressing your baby in summers, consider the following (2, 3, 4):
- When it gets toastier, make sure you dress the baby such that their skin doesn’t feel hot or sticky.
- Use lightweight, breathable natural fabrics (cotton or muslin).
- Dress them in sleeveless or legless onesies or in a diaper and a singlet.
- If your baby’s room is too hot, you may use a ceiling or floor fan to control the temperature. It is advised to keep the plug-in of the fan away from the baby, preferably on the opposite side of the room.
- If the baby fusses, even after all their needs are met, check their clothing to rule out any discomfort.
How To Dress A Baby For Sleep In The Winter?
- While dressing your baby in winters, consider the following (2, 3, 4):
- Adding layers is the way to go in winters to keep your baby comfortable.
- Avoid using beanies or headgear (hats) while sleeping, as it may cause overheating. Also, you may remove extra clothing if indoors or in a warm vehicle.
- A full suit can keep your baby warm and comfortable.
- You may use sheets and blankets that are lightweight and breathable.
- If the room is too cold, use a room heater for a comfortable temperature. Maintain humidity in the room. Do not use electric blankets or hot water bottles. Also, keep the door slightly open to avoid overheating.
- A sleep sack is another good option to keep them cozy and warm. Sleep sacks of 2 tog are preferred for the winter and fall months.
Dressing Babies For Sleep In A 70-Degree Room
When your baby sleeps in a 70℉ room, you may use a sleep sack of 1 tog, a long sleeve pajama, and a onesie. For younger babies, you can use a lightweight swaddle (2).
Dressing Babies At Different Temperatures
Based on the different room or nursery temperatures, dress your baby in the following ways during sleep (2).
- Less than 16℃/60℉: Long sleeve pajama, mittens, socks, long sleeve onesie, and light sleep sack (2 tog)
- 16—17℃/61—63℉: Long sleeve pajama, long sleeve onesie, light sleep sack (2 togs), and socks
- 18—19℃/64—68℉: Long sleeve pajama, long sleeve onesie, and light sleep sack (1 tog)
- 20—21℃/69—70℉: Long sleeve pajama, onesie, and light sleep sack (1 tog)
- 22—23℃/71—74℉: Long sleeve pajama and light sleep sack (0.5 tog)
- 24—25℃/75—77℉: Light sleep sack (0.5 tog) and onesie
- 26℃/78℉: Onesie
- 27℃/80℉: A diaper or nappy alone would suffice
How To Keep A Baby Warm At Night?
Overheating at night may increase the risk of SIDS. Therefore, it is important not to overdress the baby. Here are a few tips that you can follow.
- As a general rule, dress your baby in clothes that can be easily removed when there is a change in temperature or a need for a diaper change.
- Avoid any loose blankets, quilts, pillows, or soft toys that can be a suffocation hazard.
- Add one extra layer to what you are comfortable wearing in a particular environment.
- Choose safe sleep sacks or wearable blankets of natural, breathable material over blankets.
- Swaddling in a lightweight, breathable material can give your baby extra warmth. However, stop this once your baby shows signs of rolling over — this usually happens at two to four months.
- In freezing climates, it is advisable to invest in thermal curtains and external doors.
- In case you opt for blankets, make sure they are lightweight, breathable, and small so that they do not cause choking or get tangled around the baby. The material can include cotton, hemp, cashmere, linen, silk, or wool.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How should I wrap my baby when sleeping?
Wrapping the baby when sleeping helps them sleep in a safe position, that is, on their backs. However, when wrapping, ensure to follow these tips:
- Make sure you use a lightweight, breathable fabric that does not cover the baby’s head, ear, or chin and go over the shoulder.
- Ensure the wrap is not too tight around the chest or hips. It should allow movement of legs.
- Do NOT wrap them once they start showing signs of rolling over.
2. How do I know if the baby is cold at night?
Babies lose heat through their head and face. Often, parents touch their baby’s feet and hands to determine the baby’s temperature. However, it is not the right indication of your baby’s temperature. Feel their tummy, back, or back of the neck to check if they are warm.
3. How do I know if the baby is comfortable?
If the baby shows these signs, chances are the baby isn’t comfortable.
- Red face
- Too warm or cold to touch (at the tummy/back)
- Waking up frequently
- Fluttering their eyelids
- Arching the back
- Flailing arms and legs
- Tightening muscles
When dressing your baby for sleep, comfort and safety are the two most important factors. Remember to dress the baby considering the room temperature; they should neither feel too hot nor too cold. This may not work overnight, so be ready to add or remove layers when required; experiment with natural fabrics; and ensure a safe sleeping position (on their back) to help your baby sleep well during the night.
2. How To Dress Your Baby For Sleeping In 70 Degree Room?; Sleep Advisor
3. Dressing babies for bed: Raising Children Network (Australia)
4. How to dress baby for sleep: Red Nose Australia
5. The best temperature for sleep: SleepFoundation.org