How to dress baby for sleep in every season
By Cradlewise Staff
How to dress baby for sleep in every season
By Cradlewise Staff
Picture this – it’s mid-summer and you start sweating the moment you step outside; it feels too hot to put on any clothes. Or, what if it’s the dark days of winter when you’re freezing and even with your warmest flannels on?
What on earth should your baby wear to sleep at times like these? After all, they can’t verbalize if they’re hot or cold.
What your baby wears to bed is important from a safety perspective. Too many layers and baby could overheat; too few, and they could catch a chill. There are other dangers involved as well.
For instance, you may try to keep your newborn warm by covering them with a blanket, but that may affect their breathing and puts them at risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
It’s no wonder why clothing is such a worry for parents. If you’re confused about how to dress baby for sleep, you’re in the right place.
Read on for expert-backed information on how to dress your baby for different weather conditions.
Things to keep in mind before dressing your baby for sleep
Experts recommend dressing babies in one or more thin layers of clothing so that they do not overheat.
Another rule of thumb recommended by The Sleep Foundation and The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is to dress your baby in one additional layer than an adult would need to feel comfortable in the same room. This way, you’ll avoid over-bundling and overheating.
For example, if you’re dressed in pajamas, you might consider dressing baby in a diaper and onesie, plus an additional layer for your baby – like a set of pajama or a swaddle.
You can use the room temperature to gauge how many layers you should dress baby in. The Sleep Foundation recommends 69°F as the ideal sleeping temperature for developing infants, as their bodies are more sensitive to changes in temperature.
Remember, infants should not be put to bed with a blanket or lovey as they increase the risk of SIDS by restricting breathing and airflow.
1. How do you know if baby is too hot or too cold?
Like adults, babies’ temperature tends to fluctuate based on external factors like time of day and physical activity.
So, what’s the normal body temperature for babies? It’s a little tricky to determine because their bodies are still developing and can’t regulate temperature as well as adults. In fact, babies lose heat 4 times faster than grown-ups.
Baby’s temperature could range between 95.8 – 99.9°F from morning to night. Since your baby can’t tell you if they’re feeling hot or cold, you’ll need to look out for physical indicators of discomfort.
Signs that your little one is too hot could include:
- Damp hair
- Red cheeks
- Red, rashy skin
- A hot chest
- Quick breathing
Signs that your baby is cold include:
- A cool chest
Worried that baby is too cold? Check for these signs of hypothermia:
- Pale, cool skin
- Difficulty breathing
- A weak cry
- Poor feeding
If you suspect hypothermia, seek medical attention immediately. While hypothermia is comparatively less likely to occur than overheating, it’s always better to be cautious and consult your pediatrician.
For premature babies, experts recommend 2 additional layers (rather than 1) until they reach a normal weight, as preemies lack the body fat to keep themselves warm.
2. Should you swaddle your baby?
According to The Sleep Foundation, swaddling can be an option for newborns; it can calm them and help them sleep better. However, there is no evidence that swaddling is safer than dressing them in layers.
Once your baby starts rolling over on their own (around the 2 – 3 month mark), it’s recommended that you stop swaddling them. A swaddled baby who can roll over might wind up face down and unable to turn onto their back again.
Also, if you wrap baby too tightly, they could overheat or have difficulty breathing. It’s best to consider the risks before swaddling your little one. Read about how to swaddle your baby properly here.
3. What should your baby wear to sleep when it’s hot?
Courtney Zentz, Founder of Tiny Transitions Sleep Consulting, says, “In hot weather, dress your baby in lightweight, breathable clothing made of natural fibers such as cotton. Opt for loose-fitting garments that allow air circulation.” Lightweight, breathable clothing will prevent overheating.
On hot nights, consider a short-sleeved, cotton bodysuit with a muslin or organic cotton swaddle. However, if your home is air-conditioned, a long-sleeved onesie with footies is a better choice.
The AAP recommends switching to a single layer of clothing in temperatures over 75°F.
4. What should your baby wear when it’s cold?
For colder weather, Zentz recommends, “Start with a thin, breathable layer as a base, such as a cotton onesie. Consider using a sleep sack or wearable blanket for added warmth during sleep.”
When choosing warm fabrics to layer over cotton jammies, think fleece pajamas or a microfleece sleep sack or swaddle.
Q: Can babies sleep with hats on?
A:Babies release excess heat through their heads to regulate their temperature. Therefore, when it comes to hats and sleeping, experts recommend steering clear of hats to prevent overheating. Also, anything loose fitting, like a hat, could slip off and interfere with baby’s breathing.
Q: How should baby sleep clothes fit?
A: The Sleep Foundation recommends baby sleepwear that is stretchy and loose, so it goes on easily, but not so loose that it rides up to cover baby’s face or neck. Favor natural materials that are well-fitted and in good condition.
Q: Can baby’s feet be covered at night?
A: When it comes to baby temperature, overheating is a bigger worry than being too cold. If your feet are cold in the nursery, then perhaps socks are a good option (not in summer though). However, if the room is relatively warm and your baby is dressed in enough layers, it’s better to skip the socks.
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- How to keep your baby comfortable. 2022. What to expect. How to Dress a Newborn Baby for the Weather.
- Ways to dress baby for sleep. 2023. The Sleep Foundation. How to Dress a Baby for Sleep.
- How to dress your baby for sleep. American Academy of Pediatrics. Tips for Dressing Your Baby Step-by-Step.
- Keeping kids warm outdoors in winter. American Academy of Pediatrics. Playing Outside in Winter: Tips to Keep Kids Warm & Safe.
- Should infants wear sunscreen? 2021. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Should You Put Sunscreen on Infants? Not Usually.
- What should kids wear to sleep? 2022. The Sleep Foundation. How To Dress Your Child for Sleep.
- Sleepwear for children. 2022. Sleep Doctor. What Should Babies Wear to Sleep?
- Low body temperature in babies. 2023. Healthline. Identifying and Treating a Low Body Temperature in Babies.