How To Dress Babies For Sleep (At Different Temperatures)?

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Although it may sound like a basic question, many parents may think about how to dress babies for sleep to ensure they and their baby can have a good night’s sleep. A baby can sleep well in a safe and comfortable sleep environment that is neither too hot nor too cold. The baby’s outfit is important to create the desired comfort.

Want to know what kind of dressing is ideal for bedtime? Read the post to get all the important tips 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 finds 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 rather 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).

Baby’s temperature

  • 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.

Room temperature

  • 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)
  • Fussing/crying
  • Waking up frequently
  • Fluttering their eyelids
  • Arching the back
  • Flailing arms and legs
  • Tightening muscles

4. Can babies overheat in a swaddle?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “swaddling can increase the chance your baby will overheat, so avoid letting your baby get too hot. The baby could be too hot if you notice sweating, damp hair, flushed cheeks, heat rash, and rapid breathing (6).”

5 Should babies sleep in footless pajamas?

Babies can sleep in footless pajamas comfortably. However, you can swaddle the baby or put them in a sleep sack if you feel the weather is cold and your baby may need to cover their feet.

6. How do I keep my baby warm at night without a blanket?

Dress your baby in layers so you may remove or add a layer as per need. Use footed pajamas or onesies to keep your baby’s feet warm. Ensure adequate layers to keep the baby warm without overheating. Wearable blankets and sleeping sacks are safe alternatives to blankets.

Knowing how to dress babies for sleep helps parents and caregivers sleep for longer since an appropriately dressed baby also has an undisturbed sleep. Dress your baby according to the room temperature and maintain the same room temperature throughout the night. Further, it is best to dress them in layers rather than one layer of thick cloth. You may then remove a layer according to the room temperature. Also, choose clothes made of breathable materials and avoid loose clothing around the neck since they may choke the baby.

Key Pointers

  • Finding weather-appropriate clothes to dress your baby for sleep is essential to keep them safe and comfortable.
  • According to experts, parents should select a dress as per the room or nursery temperature. The ideal room temperature for babies is up to 69℉ (20.5℃).
  • Avoid excessive dressing to prevent overheating. Overheating at night may increase the risk of SIDS.
  • Monitor your baby and look for the signs, like red face or too warm or cold tummy/back, indicating that the baby isn’t comfortable in its nightwear.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. What babies should wear to sleep?; National Sleep Foundation
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
6. Swaddling: Is it Safe for Your Baby?; American Academy Of Pediatrics
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Dr. Ritika Shah

Dr. Ritika Shah is a certified lactation counsellor from iNational Health Care Academy, Singapore and a dental surgeon with more than seven years of clinical experience across various cities in India. She did her graduation in Dentistry from KM Shah Dental College. During her clinical practice, pediatric dentistry was her particular area of interest, and she constantly thrived to inculcate... more

Jennifer Renee Chu

Jenn Chu is the owner and operator of Little Ones Welcome in San Francisco. She offers services in her private practice, and virtually. Her focus is on the health and wellbeing of the individual. She specializes in women's care with an emphasis on conception, pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and pediatric support. Jenn took her graduate degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine from... more

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