Baby Tips and Advice

What Should a Baby Wear to Bed?

What should my baby wear to bed?” And “how do I keep my baby cool in summer?’ are two common questions we get from parents.

Research shows a clear link between overheating and an increased risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy, so parents and carers must know how to dress a baby for sleep. Babies control their temperature predominantly through their head and face. 

This is why we recommend that you put your baby to sleep on their back with their head and face uncovered.

We love the Summer months, but keeping our babies and little children calm and content in the hot weather can be challenging. During the day, we want to protect our little ones from the sun and keep them cool. At night we want to help them feel comfortable to sleep soundly, ready for another day of fun!

Ideally, we want to keep the temperature of their bedroom between 16°C and 20°C at night. Not only is this the optimal temperature for safer sleep, but this also works with the body’s natural desire to be more relaxed when we sleep. However, this isn’t always possible when we encounter a heatwave.

What can we do when the weather heats up and temperatures soar above the ideal? One of the most important things we can do is make sure our babies are dressed for their room temperature. 

Always remember to remove head coverings for sleep and ensure the baby is positioned with their feet at the bottom of the cot – and if you’re using sheets or blankets, make sure they are firmly tucked in to prevent the baby from wriggling down and overheating. Check out My Baby Nursery for all your baby product needs.

As your child grows, you may wonder about appropriate sleepwear for babies, toddlers, and school-aged children. It can be tricky to find pyjamas that tick all the boxes for comfort, safety, and convenience. This article highlights how to choose the best sleepwear for babies and children so your little ones can sleep soundly.

Dressing Baby for Bed: the Basics

Baby Tips

Dress in Layers

Dress your baby in layers of fitted clothing rather than just thick pyjamas. You can add or take away layers as the temperature changes.

No Hats and Beanies in Bed

Babies cool themselves down by releasing heat from their heads and faces. Babies can quickly overheat if they fall asleep wearing hats or beanies. So it’s essential to keep your baby’s head uncovered during sleep. Headwear in bed can also be a choking or suffocation hazard.

Baby’s Temperature

Your baby’s hands and feet might feel relaxed, but this isn’t a good indication of temperature. You can find out how hot your baby is by feeling the baby’s back or tummy.

Room Temperature

If you think your baby’s room is too warm, you can use a floor or ceiling fan to keep the room at a comfortable temperature. The safest place for a plug-in floor fan is on the opposite side of the room, away from your baby.

If your baby’s room is freezing, you can use a heater to warm the room to a more comfortable temperature. Keep the door slightly open so that your baby’s room doesn’t overheat.

We do not recommend a specific room temperature for a baby’s sleep. This is because there is no evidence to show that maintaining a particular room temperature prevents sudden infant death.

As long as the baby is put down to sleep on their back and that baby has dressed appropriately for the room temperature – not overdressed or underdressed – with their head and face uncovered, you can feel reassured that you are protecting the baby from overheating.

We don’t believe that it’s necessary to use a room temperature monitor or to leave the heating or to cool on all night, as long as the baby is dressed appropriately for the temperature of the room – not too hot, not too cold.

To check, feel the baby’s tummy, which should feel warm. Don’t worry if the baby’s hands and feet feel cool – this is normal.

If your baby shows signs of heat stress, such as flushed and clammy skin, remove some bedding or clothing and offer fluids such as breast milk for young babies or water for older children.

An oscillating fan positioned away from the cot can help during the hotter months. Fans circulate the air and provide white noise for the baby, which can help them sleep more soundly. Research has demonstrated that oscillating fans can help to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in some circumstances.

Never use electric blankets or hot water bottles to warm your baby during colder weather.

Baby Wrapping

Wrapping helps babies settle for sleep and stay in a safe sleeping position on their backs.

If you choose to wrap your baby, use lightweight cotton or muslin wraps. Ensure the wrap doesn’t go above your baby’s shoulders or cover the baby’s head, ears or chin. Wraps that are too high can obstruct your baby’s breathing and cause overheating.

Also, check that there’s enough room for your baby to stretch their legs and that the wrap isn’t too tight around the baby’s chest and hips. Wrapping a baby’s legs and chest too tightly can lead to hip and breathing problems. Babies can be covered from birth until they start showing signs that they can roll onto their tummies, usually around four months.

Baby Sleeping Bags

A safe infant sleeping bag can be a good option for dressing your baby for bed. A correctly sized sleeping bag is the best way to keep your baby’s head and face uncovered.

A safe infant sleeping bag also helps to:

  • reduce the risk of SUDI, including SIDS and fatal sleeping accidents
  • stop your baby from rolling onto their tummy during sleep
  • Contain your baby’s legs, so they don’t hang out through the cot’s rails.
  • Some sleeping bags have a TOG (overall thermal grade) rating. This can help you decide which sleeping bag to use in different temperatures. But note that a TOG rating is just a guide. It isn’t a safety standard.

Check that your baby can’t slip down into the bag and become completely covered. Use a sleeping bag that has a fitted neck and armholes but no hood.

Tog Ratings

Another helpful tool for new parents is TOG—Thermal Overall Grade. The TOG Rating on a baby’s clothes helps demystify how to dress your baby for sleep. Essentially, the higher the TOG rating, the warmer the fabric. Many baby clothing has TOG ratings on them, showing you exactly how to dress your baby for sleep based on the room’s ambient temperature!

What Should a Baby Wear?

Dress your baby as you would dress yourself for the temperature of the room – comfortably warm, not too hot, not too cold.

The right sleepwear can help keep the baby comfortable and safe. You can dress a baby in warmer weather in a sleeveless and legless onesie, or just a nappy and singlet. For cooler weather, a full suit will keep the baby warm.

If you are using a sleeping bag, select the TOG that matches the temperature of the room. Use the manufacturer’s guide, which usually comes with the packaging, to choose the right TOG and underclothes. Also, make sure your sleeping bag is safe – it should be fitted around the neck and baby’s arms entirely out of the bag.

We recommend lightweight, breathable fabrics such as muslin and cotton for younger babies being swaddled or wrapped. If you are using sheets and a blanket, make sure they are also lightweight and breathable muslin or cotton fabric. But never place delicate items in the cot such as lambswool or overlays, as these increase the risk of overheating.

When dressing a baby for sleep, remember to dress the baby for the room’s temperature – comfortably warm, not too hot and not too cold.

What Should a Toddler Wear to Bed?

sleeping baby

When choosing pyjamas for your toddler, opt for soft, breathable, chemical-free fabrics such as cotton. Avoid fleece and other synthetic materials that don’t breathe as well. If it’s cold, you can add socks, a onesie, or use footed pyjamas. While you want pyjamas to fit snugly, they shouldn’t overly restrict movement. Toddlers may have fun picking out their favourite pyjamas for the night, so feel free to incorporate this into their bedtime routine.

Most toddlers start using their blanket6 between the ages of one and two. Nevertheless, toddlers have a habit of kicking off their blankets, so be sure to dress them accordingly. If you have trouble getting them to keep the covers on, many companies also make sleep sacks for toddlers.

The law requires children’s sleepwear to be either flame-retardant or tight-fitting, so it doesn’t pose a fire hazard7. You may want to check the tag to ensure the pyjamas don’t contain chemical flame retardants. It’s also a good idea to watch out for loose ties, broken zippers, or other choking and strangulation hazards. 

School-aged children can wear comfortable pyjamas that are appropriate for the temperature. Replace pyjamas once they are irreparably torn, threadbare, rough from too much washing, or have loose parts that pose a hazard. Online baby product directory at My Baby Nursery.

How to Dress Your Baby for Sleep

Despite the old wives tales about bundling your baby up from head to toe, sleeping on the cooler side promotes sleep for all of us. The ideal temperature for baby sleep is between 68 and 72° F. That’s surprisingly cool!

But not everyone keeps their homes between 68 and 72° F, which is where I got confused a lot as a new mom!

If you take anything from this post, it’s this: Don’t obsess over the thermostat in your house. If you’re comfortable and your baby is dressed similarly, they are likely pleased as well.

If you want to double-check them, use your hand to feel their belly or the back of their neck. If it feels slightly warm to your touch, then they are good! Okay, now we can get into more specifics about how to dress your baby for sleep in different climates!

How you’ll dress your baby for sleep will largely depend on the climate and temperature in your environment, as well as how cool or warm you keep your home.

Generally, a cotton onesie and lightweight swaddle or sleep sack will be sufficient for warmer weather. In comparison, footed pyjamas and a sleep sack or swaddle will be enough for cooler weather.

It’s much easier for your baby to adapt to a cooler climate (with proper clothing or coverings) than it is for them to get comfortable being too warm.

This is important to know, especially in a situation where you don’t have as much control over the climate in the baby’s space as you’d like. Travelling and staying with friends and family is great, but not everyone keeps their thermostats set to ideal “baby-friendly” temperatures.

Be prepared to dress your baby for sleep in many different circumstances and clothing combinations. Here are some methods that I’ve found helpful when dressing your baby for restful sleep.

As a guideline, you should dress your baby in one more layer than what an adult would find comfortable. The American Academy of Pediatrics1 (AAP) recommends that babies sleep without a blanket to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), but there’s no need to over bundle.

On a warm night, you can dress your baby in breathable cotton pyjamas, a onesie, or even just a diaper coupled with a lightweight swaddle. On a more relaxed night, try layering a long-sleeved onesie or footed pyjamas with a swaddle or sleep sack over the top.

Baby sleepwear that snaps or zips open in the front or on both legs can facilitate diaper changing, but avoid strings, poorly placed fasteners, and other elements that pose a risk to your baby. Ideally, the sleeping outfit should be loose and stretchy enough to put on quickly but not so open that it rides up around your baby’s face or neck. Favour natural materials that won’t irritate your baby’s skin, and choose well-fitting clothing in good condition.

As your child grows, you may wonder about appropriate sleepwear for babies, toddlers, and school-aged children. It can be tricky to find pyjamas that tick all the boxes for comfort, safety, and convenience. This article highlights how to choose the best sleepwear for babies and children so your little ones can sleep soundly.

What’s the Difference Between a Sleep Sack and a Swaddle?

A swaddle wraps your baby up like a burrito, whereas a sleep sack (or wearable blanket) is slightly looser and leaves the arms free.

A swaddle can make you’re newborn feel more secure. It also limits the startle response, helping them sleep more soundly. However, it can also pose a risk because it constricts a child’s movement. If babies roll over onto their stomach while in a swaddle, they may get trapped in that position and be at a higher risk for SIDS.

This is why you should always place a swaddled baby firmly on its back for sleep.

If you choose to swaddle a newborn4, be sure to leave enough wiggle room to let their hips develop correctly. You should also go a two- to three-finger gap between the swaddle and their chest so they can breathe easily.

Since most babies learn to roll over around the three-month mark, it’s best to eliminate the swaddle around the two-month mark or as soon as your baby starts to roll in either direction. At this point, the AAP suggests using a sleeveless wearable blanket, also known as a sleep sack, to keep the baby warm while leaving the hands free to assist in rolling. This helps prevent your baby from getting trapped on their stomach.

Should I Worry About My Baby Being Cold?

To reduce the risk of SIDS, your baby should be on the cooler side rather than too hot. Premature babies may have more trouble keeping warm, so it is appropriate to dress them a little more warmly. By contrast, when your baby has a fever5, resist the urge to turn up the heat or add extra clothes.

Avoid using hats or anything else that covers the baby’s face or head, as your baby regulates temperature by releasing heat through the head. You can monitor for overheating by touching your baby’s chest or checking for telltale signs such as sweating, flushed cheeks, damp hair, a heat rash, or rapid breathing. Don’t worry if the hands and feet feel colder than the rest of the body.

The AAP does not provide an exact temperature range for the bedroom, but it’s best not to keep the room too hot. If you use a fan, adjust it so that the air doesn’t blow straight at your infant.

Conclusion

Dressing your baby in a specially designed sleeping bag can help you feel confident you are using the right tog rating for the temperature.

Remember, every baby is different, and their response to room temperatures can vary. The information above is a guide only – check on your baby regularly to ensure they aren’t too hot or too cold.

Feel your baby’s chest or the back of their neck (your baby’s hands and feet will usually be more relaxed, which is normal). If your baby’s skin is hot or sweaty, remove one or more layers of bedclothes or bedding.

Ensure there is good airflow in your baby’s room, opening the window/door if it is safe to do so. Keeping curtains and blinds closed during the day can help keep the room as cool as possible. You can then open them again to help with airflow at night. My Baby Nursery is your one-stop baby product store.

If using a pan, place it well away from your baby and don’t let it blow directly onto them. It is widespread for our sleep to be disrupted by the heat and for little ones to wake up early, so try not to feel stressed if that is the case.

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