How to dress your baby for sleep?

How to dress your baby for sleep, finding the ideal room temperature for comfortable and safe sleep, and how to choose the right swaddle or sleep sack so you can help your baby get the sleep they need to achieve their dreams.

Knowing how to dress your baby for sleep can be a concern for parents. Dressing your baby for sleep is important for their safety and comfort. But how do you dress your baby for sleep as the temperature or seasons change?  Don’t stress. In this article we will talk about the ideal temp for baby sleep, how to dress your baby for sleep and even how to choose the right swaddle or sleep sack. 

Four Tips to Help Dress your Baby for Sleep

Every baby and sleep environment may be a little different. By following these tips you can feel more confident knowing how to assess your baby to see if they are dressed comfortably and know how to dress your baby for sleep success.

  1. Check the temperature
  2. Dress for successful sleep
  3. Choose the right swaddle or sleep sack 
  4. Don’t stress, just assess for signs of overheating
Dressing baby for sleep

Check the Temperature: What is the ideal temperature for sleep?

We all sleep best in a sleep environment that is cool, calm and dark. The ideal room temperature for sleep is between 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit ( 20-22 degrees Celsius). During sleep, our body temperature drops slightly and this helps to produce melatonin, the hormone we need to help us go to sleep and stay asleep. Keeping the room nice and cool can help babies get the sleep they need. Use a room thermometer to check the temperature of your child’s room to make sure it is ideal for sleep. 

Dress for Success: What should my baby wear for sleep?

It is important to keep your baby warm and room cool for sound, safe sleep. Now that you know the room temperature, dress your baby for sleep success! Dress your baby for sleep in soft and breathable pajamas, swaddles and sleep sacks made of cotton or bamboo. Avoid synthetic materials that can trap heat and cause your baby to overheat.

Choose Right Swaddle or Sleep Sack

A swaddle or sleep sack provides your infant with an additional layer of clothing, safely to help keep them comfortable during sleep. My favorite swaddles are the Swaddle Me and Ollie swaddles. If your infant is not showing signs of rolling and less than 8 weeks of age, a swaddle is appropriate. If your baby is 8 weeks of age or older or they are showing signs of rolling, it is no longer safe to use a swaddle and time to transition to a sleep sack instead.  Personally, I like the Halo 3-Way Adjustable Wearable Blanket to help with the transition to a sleep sack.

A sleep sack is a wearable blanket that can keep your baby warm and cozy without the risk of suffocation or overheating. Choose a sleep sack that fits well and is appropriate for the temperature of the sleeping environment. My favorites are the Halo Sleep Sacks or Wearable Blankets. Whichever you may choose to use to dress your baby for sleep, avoid using weighted swaddles or sleep sacks and any clothing with ties, buttons, or other small parts that could become a choking hazard. 

What is a TOG rating?

A TOG (Thermal Overall Grade) rating is a measure of thermal insulation of a fabric or a textile. In plain language, a TOG rating indicates how much warmth a fabric can provide and how much heat it can trap. The higher the TOG score, the warmer and more insulating the fabric is. In general, TOG scores range from 0.5 to 4, with 0.5 being the least insulating and 4 being the most insulating.

TOG scores are commonly used in baby sleepwear, particularly in sleep sacks and swaddles. The appropriate TOG score for your baby’s sleepwear depends on the ambient temperature of the sleeping environment. For example, a TOG score of 0.5 to 1.0 is appropriate for warm rooms, while a TOG score of 2.5 to 3.5 is suitable for colder rooms. 

It’s important to choose the appropriate TOG score for your baby’s sleepwear to prevent overheating or under-dressing, which can both be dangerous for your baby. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations and guidelines for TOG scores when purchasing sleepwear for your baby.

If your baby runs warm, remove a layer or use a lighter sleep sack. If your baby feels cool, add a layer or use a heavier sleep sack. 

Remember: We still want to follow all the safe sleep guidelines. Never add a blanket, weighted sleep sack or swaddle, bumpers, stuffed animals, or any other items to the crib or bassinet. 

Dress and Assess. But Don’t Stress.

How do I know if my baby is too warm or too cool?

Some monitors include a room temperature ready which can give you a good idea of the room temperature. However, they may not give the most accurate reading so check your baby to see if they are too warm or too cool. During sleep, your baby’s hands may feel cool to the touch. That is ok and pretty normal. Instead, touch your baby’s chest and/or back to determine if they are comfortable for sleep. If they are cool to the touch, dress your baby more warmly by adding a layer of clothing such as a onesie under their pajamas, warmer pajamas or use a warmer swaddle/sleep sack. If your baby is too warm, remove a layer or use a lighter weight swaddle/sleep sack. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I dress my newborn for sleep?

Perhaps you have heard that you should dress your newborn baby for sleep in one layer more than you are wearing. This is true in the beginning as newborns can’t regulate their body temperature. Check your newborn frequently to make sure they are not too cool or too warm. Overdressing your baby can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Always follow the American Academy of Pediatrics Guidelines for Safe Sleep and never place a blanket in the crib.  Instead, you use a swaddle or sleep sack. If you have questions, reach out to your pediatrician. 

Dress a newborn baby in a snuggly fitting swaddle for sleep

How do I dress my baby for sleep in the Summer? 

During the warmer months, it may be harder to keep your baby’s room cool. Consider adding a fan to help circulate the air. Avoid having the fan blow directly on your baby during sleep. Adding a fan can help reduce the risk of SIDS too! Dress your baby for sleep in a swaddle or sleep sack that has a lower TOG rating.

In the summer, dress your baby for sleep in lighter weight clothing and fewer layers to keep them cool

How do I dress my baby for sleep in the Winter?

When it gets cooler outside, dress your baby for sleep in warmer pajamas and add a sleep sack with a higher TOG rating. Your child can sleep in socks or footed pajamas. Let’s be honest, no one likes waking up with cold feet!

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Pediatric Sleep consultant, Kristi Roberts

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