Your little bundle of joy has finally arrived home and you’re happy beyond words. After your initial bliss, though, questions start popping into your head.
The most simple but important question new mums think about is how to dress baby for sleep.
Babies shouldn’t be too hot or too cold while sleeping, because there are some potential health risks that are linked with irregular temperature.
Choosing the right clothes can sometimes be tricky, but it’s nothing to worry about as long as you make smart clothes choices for your baby.
There are only a few simple rules you need to follow to get the gist of it and soon enough you’ll know how to make your little one comfortable.
There’s nothing more heartwarming than watching your precious baby sleep safely and comfortably.
Rules To Follow When Dressing Baby For Sleep
1. Take off hats and beanies before sleep
I’m sure many of you know this, but for those who don’t, here’s what you need to know: It’s a well-known fact that babies can release the extra heat through their head and cool themselves in that way.
Yes, it sounds a little bit silly, but we all do it, not just babies.
The only difference is, infants’ heads are disproportionate in size to their little bodies, so the head is an important surface area for heat release. It’s how they regulate body temperature.
That’s why it’s important to never leave a hat or a beanie on a baby’s head at night. Creating excess warmth can cause overheating.
It’s best to go with layers of clothes and leave the face and head uncovered for heat and air to circulate.
2. Check the nape of the neck or back
A common misconception is that babies’ hands and feet can tell you if the baby is too hot or too cold. I’m sure someone has given you this advice already.
If they have, they’re wrong! Baby’s hands don’t indicate her temperature.
In fact, hands are probably the least indicative body part when checking temperature.
This is because of the continuing development of a baby’s circulatory system in the early days of life.
What this means is, your little one can have chilly hands and a normal body temperature.
That’s why it’s best to check the nape of babies’ necks or babies’ backs.
Put your hand on their neck or their back to determine their temperature. If they feel too hot or even sweaty – that’s a clear sign your baby is too bundled up and you should remove some layers.
3. Consider your own comfort
My favorite and the easiest way of deciding on what babywear is best for sleep is to consider your own comfort and look at what kind of PJs you’re wearing.
If you feel comfortable, it’s almost certain that baby feels comfortable too. What do you wear to sleep and how comfortable do you feel?
Now that you’ve thought about it – add one layer and there you have it. The perfect recipe for your baby’s sleeping clothes, as a rule of thumb.
Unless, that is, you often feel too cold or too hot for reasons that have nothing to do with external temperature.
4. Take care of the room temperature
Another thing to have in mind is the ideal room temperature for a baby to sleep in.
So, what’s the ideal temperature?
The ideal temperature for newborn babies to sleep in is between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
The best way to regulate room temperature is simple and easy: By adjusting the thermostat. That’s how you’ll easily create a safe environment for your baby to sleep in.
With a newborn in the house, it’s important to keep the baby’s room temperature in check and watch out for excessive use of air conditioning.
Again, if the room temperature is comfortable for you, it’s probably comfortable for your baby. If you’re too warm or too chilly, she’s likely to be too.
5. Dress in layers and count the layers
How to dress baby for sleep? Now we’re finally getting to the point. Dressing your baby in layers is a smarter option than dressing her in thick PJs.
If the temperature changes, you’ll have no problem adding or removing pieces of clothes.
So how do we put the baby to sleep safely? Let’s start with the recommendation of a swaddle, which is in itself one piece of clothing.
It’s known that babies need to sleep on their backs because that’s the only safe position for them to sleep in. This is where swaddling comes in handy.
Swadling secures and protects the baby and keeps her on her back.
This practice is highly recommended for the first few months of a baby’s life – for around four months or until the baby starts rolling onto her tummy.
The only thing you need to keep in mind is to include the weight of the swaddle with the rest of the baby’s sleepwear.
For example, during hot months baby will be just fine with one light cotton onesie/bodysuit or T-shirt with the swaddle.
Other than a swaddle, there’s an option of a sleep sack and a hybrid of both of them.
During very cold weather you’ll definitely need a footed, long-sleeve sleeper along with the heavy swaddle to keep your baby warm and cozy.
Of course, if your home is overheated, there’s no point in adding all of these layers.
If you’re not familiar with swaddle blankets, I encourage you to try them.
For example, a good starting point would be aden + anais Silky Soft Swaddle Blanket made of 100% bamboo viscose.
Aden + anais Silky Soft Swaddle Blanket
These swaddle blankets provide everything you need from a blanket: They’re made from quality materials, they’re durable, breathable and they look cute in every option possible.
When it comes to sleeping bags (sometimes called wearable blankets), you need to choose a sleeping bag with the appropriate TOG.
TOG is the unit used to measure the warmth of sleepwear and bedclothes. When the TOG is lower, the fabric is lighter; when the TOG is higher the fabric is thicker.
Most sleeping bags have their own guide to determine the bag you need according to the temperature of the environment you live in or the season you’re using it in.
Don’t forget to consider both the clothes you put on your baby before sleeping and the warmth of the sleeping bag.
If you don’t own a sleeping bag and you’re curious about it, I highly recommend this beauty I used with my first child:
Simple Joys by Carter’s Baby 3-Pack Cotton Sleeveless Sleepbag
This sleeping bag is adjustable, made from cotton, and acts like a wearable blanket. Everything your baby needs to feel safe and cozy while sleeping.
Maybe you’re wondering, what the difference is between a swaddle and a sleeping bag?
The design of the first keeps your newborn from wriggling out and apparently also sends the internet into a frenzy over adorably cute baby burrito pictures.
How can anyone resist that?
Still, the point is not (only) the cuteness but the highly practical and beneficial design a swaddle gives while providing your baby with a night of safe sleep.
Swaddling has a soothing effect on the baby and helps her to fall asleep easily. It stops the baby to wake herself up with her own startle reflexes.
A sleeping sack is nothing but a mini sleeping bag for your baby or toddler.
It’s called a wearable blanket and it’s a genius solution for getting rid of the risk of suffocation and making sure your baby feels nice and toasty in the crib.
If after all of this, you’re still unsure how comfortable your baby feels, try checking her neck and back multiple times.
However, there shouldn’t be many problems as long as room temperature is optimized.
If, for any reason, you’re unable to regulate the temperature in your home, increase the periodical checking of your baby’s neck.
Besides, don’t forget that your baby communicates with you. If she’s uncomfortable she’ll let you know in the ways she can.
So, how will you know if your baby is comfortable? We all know babies can’t talk but that doesn’t mean they don’t communicate with us.
Communication is more than just words and coordinated moves.
Moreover, they communicate clearly and loudly with distinctive noises and crying that’s hard to miss.
Functionality Is More Important Than Fashion
Another thing that has to be mentioned is convenience and practicality when choosing the clothes for a baby’s sleep.
How to dress babies for sleep? Conveniently.
Yes, we all adore cute baby clothes and dressing them up in whatever cute thing we can find but we must also keep in mind that babies need their clothes changed frequently.
That’s why you should opt for clothes that are practical: You don’t want any weird cuts and materials or tricky buttons when you need to perform a diaper change in the middle of the night.
As you’re likely to already be sleep-deprived and tired – that’s the last thing you need.
The Crib Bedding And Mattress Are Important
One thing that’s often overlooked is bedding. What is your crib or bassinet bedding made of? What about the mattress?
Quality matters and should provide a pleasant and breathable sleeping experience for the baby.
Of course, ideally, a waterproof mattress should also be hypoallergenic to cause fewer allergic reactions.
Extra Safe Sleep Tips
Other than everything that’s been said, here are some friendly reminders to keep in mind while your toddler sleeps.
• Your baby should always be placed on their back until they’re old enough to flip onto their belly.
• Baby should always be laid down on a firm surface as soft surfaces can block the airways.
• Once baby learns to roll and flip on her tummy, the swaddle has no use and only restricts free movement, which baby needs to flip and move around.
• The crib or bassinet baby sleeps in should not contain loose-fitting sheets, pillows, blankets, or toys to prevent the risk of suffocation.
To make this completely clear – nothing but the baby and pacifier should be allowed in a crib. Pacifiers are safe to use.
• Ideally, a baby should sleep in your room for about six to twelve months. That doesn’t mean co-sleeping in the same bed, but sleeping in a crib or bassinet close by.
Many risks are decreased by the fact you’re in the same room as your baby – the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, for example.
Be especially cautious around 2 to 3 months of age because that’s when SIDS peaks.
• A fan is a good thing to have in a room where the baby is sleeping because of the air circulation it creates and the bonus white noise it produces. Babies LOVE white noise.
The reason for that is because it reminds them of those cozy and safe nine months they spent under their mothers hearts.
It reminds them of maternal sounds in utero that also masked harsh external sounds.
Sleeping Habits Change With Age
Once your baby gets older and bigger, things will have to change.
Children change so fast and that thing they insisted on and needed for months just falls into oblivion as soon as they grow a little older.
For instance, once your toddler starts walking and moving you don’t want his movement to be restrained by a sleep sack because that’s a possibly dangerous thing to do.
After about 12 months you might consider using a blanket for your toddler, but it all depends on your evaluation and the pediatrician.
Before You Go…
All of this might sound mundane, I mean – it’s only clothes, right?
However, overheating is a serious issue for infants. It can cause difficult consequences for a baby’s health.
For example, overheating can be the cause of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and it’s not something you should take lightly.
That doesn’t mean you should overthink it and panic – just try your best to be mindful of everything that’s been said in this article.
If you’re one of the moms that gets nervous thinking how to dress baby for sleep, I assure you – there’s no need to be worried.
Make sure to check all of the things that have been said and trust your intuition.
Listen to your little one because you’re the only person that understands them that well, isn’t that magical?
I’m wishing you lots of cozy, peaceful and comfy naps with your personal burrito of cuteness.
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