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How To Dress A Baby For Sleep? Everything You Need To Know!

By Paula McLaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH | Updated - 31 July 2021

Knowing how to dress a baby for sleep is very important to ensure they sleep soundly, safely and are happy to settle.

However, making the decision on what your baby should wear to sleep can be quite daunting and fraught with self-doubt... 

  • Will they be too hot?
  • Will they be too cold?
  • Is the room the right temperature?
  • Should I swaddle or not?
  • Can I use a fan?
How To Dress A Baby For Sleep Anytime Anywhere

So, let's take a look at how best to decide what is right for your baby in your particular environment to make sure that they're 'just right'!

6 Crucial Factors To create the perfect sleep environment for baby

Before deciding on how to dress your baby in for sleeping you need to assess WHERE they will be sleeping to ensure all the other factors are correct to have a restful snooze!

1. Room temperature

Room temperature is hugely important and should be between 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit or 20 to 22 degrees Celsius. The temperature of the room will determine what you dress your baby in. 

I highly recommend investing in a room thermometer such as the GroEgg room thermometer as it will give you peace of mind that your baby’s sleep environment is at the correct temperature and warns you if their room is getting too warm or too cold.

Gro Egg Colour Changing Room Thermometer

What is it? A Colour Changing Room Thermometer gives you peace of mind at a glance, by emitting a colour changing glow

Why do I recommend it? This great room thermometer emits a colour changing glow to indicate the temperature of your baby’s room. It also comes with a very handy colour coded guideline, to tell you which sleeping bag from the Grobag range you should be using depending on the room temperature.

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

2. White noise machine

A white noise machine is an amazingly useful piece of kit to help your baby sleep well too. It is soothing and reduces the impact of sudden household noises waking your baby.

Dream Egg White Noise Machine

What is it? Sleek multi option white noise machine

Why do I recommend it? This a versatile white noise machine with 24 options that will definitely help your little one settle to sleep. It has a soft warm light that will help babies fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

3. Blackout curtains 

Blackout curtains can be controversial as if your baby can only sleep in a blacked-out room then they may struggle to sleep in other locations. So they’re definitely a personal choice. 

However, it is useful to know that, in hot countries, blackout curtains can make a room cooler to sleep in.

If you’re concerned about your baby not being able to sleep in a variety of locations, you can use a nightlight alongside blackout curtains to avoid the issue of them only being able to sleep when it’s pitch black!

4. Correct crib

The correct crib is vital to your baby’s sleeping comfort. A crib should be well ventilated and have a flat, firm and well-fitting mattress. 

Use a warmer flannel bottom sheet in the winter and a cooler cotton one in the summer.

I have hand picked a load of my favourite cribs in the Sleep Section of my Parenting Toolbox so be sure to check them out!

5. Correct blankets, Swaddles and Sleeping Bags

Blankets are not advisable for young babies to sleep with as they are prone to being kicked off or have a risk of covering your baby's face.  

Swaddling or sleeping bags such as the ones by GroBag, which give you the correct tog rating to choose for different temperatures, are a far safer option.

The Grobag Sleep Company offers a comprehensive guide to ensuring your baby is kept at the correct temperature for sleep. 

Their extensive range of sleeping bags and swaddles offer parents a host of safe and comfortable sleeping options. Check out their latest styles and GroBag selector tool here!

6. Correct clothing 

What your baby wears under their swaddle or sleeping bag also needs to be taken into consideration when getting your baby ready for sleep.

Swaddling for the very young infant followed by the correct tog sleeping bag as they get a little older is what I would recommend. 

Check out my Baby Clothing Page in the Parenting Toolbox to be inspired by many beautiful companies!

REMEMBER

Unlike us, up until the age of about 3 months, very young babies are unable to regulate their own body temperature, so it is up to us to do this for them. 

Changing with the seasons

What you put your baby to sleep in will obviously depend on the time of year, how warm or cold your house is and where in the world you live.

Ideally, you should have a selection of sleepwear options to enable you to adapt to changing temperatures.

Remember, dark and cool is what you are aiming for.

Ensuring your baby stays at the correct temperature can be a little tricky and you will need to keep an eye on room temperatures, but being informed on what to wear when will help you a lot.

how to dress a baby for sleep Featured Image

How to dress a baby for sleep in summer

When it’s warm, you want to keep things light.

  •  A short-sleeve organic cotton T-shirt with a cotton or muslin swaddle is ideal for warmer weather.

OR

  • An appropriate lightweight sleeping bag with a nappy and short sleeve T-shirt underneath.

In short term extreme heat, you could forgo the swaddle or sleeping bag and just let your baby sleep in a T-shirt or short-sleeved bodysuit.

You could even consider using a fan to keep them cool. Also if you have air conditioning, your baby will need to be dressed accordingly so that they do not get too chilled.

REMEMBER

It is vital that your baby does not overheat as this has been linked to SIDS.

How to dress a baby for sleep in winter

When it comes to winter, choose options from the following when dressing a baby for sleep:

  • A warmer swaddle and long sleeve footed sleepsuit.
  • Appropriate tog sleeping bags.
  • Organic cotton clothing is best for newborns - try to avoid wool as it can be rather itchy!
  • Mittens without strings attached or long-sleeve onesies with hand pockets.

Top Tips

- Avoid fleece-lined clothing or swaddles as they tend to be too warm

- Avoid putting a hat on your baby at night even if you feel the room is cool

5 FAQs about how to dress a baby for sleep

Here are 5 of the most frequently asked questions about how to dress a baby for sleep. I hope they help answer a few of your burning questions!

1. Can a baby wear socks to bed?

As with all things baby-related, the answer is not clear cut! 

If your baby’s feet feel overly cool to the touch then you could put socks on them to sleep in. However, a footed sleepsuit and or sleeping bag will keep your babies feet cosy and warm anyway.

2. How do I know if my baby is warm enough at night?

The best way to tell if your baby is warm enough at night is to feel their skin.

Cool hands and feet are not the best indicators of your baby’s overall temperature so check the following instead:

  • A cold nose would indicate they are too cool.
  • A cool back of the neck means they are too cold. However, a warm back of the neck is perfectly OK
  • A sweaty hairline means they are too hot.
  • Place your hand on their tummy or back to check how cool or warm they are.

Keep an eye on your baby’s behaviour too. If they seem uncomfortable or are having difficulty settling, do a check of their skin temperature.

3. Should I cover my baby’s hands at night?

The main reason parents wish to cover their baby’s hands is to prevent them from scratching themselves but this is a short-lived issue that usually resolves itself within the first few weeks after your baby is born.

The easiest and safest way to cover your baby’s hands for sleep is by swaddling or long-sleeve onesies that have specially designed pockets at the end of the sleeves to cover baby’s hands.

If your baby’s hands are cool but are otherwise not showing any signs of being uncomfortable or struggling to settle then there is no need to worry about covering their hands at night.

4. How should I dress a baby for sleep without a swaddle?

Sleepsacks or wearable blankets are great alternatives to swaddling. So if your baby is not a swaddle-lover don’t worry! Just try those alternatives instead. 

Gro Company travel Gro Bag

What is it? Brilliant range of baby sleeping bags recommended by the Lullaby Trust including the Travel Gro Bag which can be used safely in a car seat.

Why do I recommend it? I love this range of sleeping bags that come with several tog ratings for all year comfort. The travel Gro bag is perfect for travelling with your little one. Al the grow bags have underarm poppers and zip clip features. Definitely the best range of sleeping bags for babies 0-18 months out there.

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

5. Are fans bad for babies?

Ventilation and cooled air are the best ways to keep your baby cool and using a fan in hot weather is a perfectly safe way to do this. 

How to dress a baby for sleep Recap

Naturally, knowing how to dress a baby for sleep can be quite daunting and knowing what is best and safe can be a little confusing.

But the general rule of thumb when it comes to how to dress a baby for sleep is to put them in one more layer than you would feel comfortable with.

My general guidelines would also be:

  • Always pay attention to how your baby's skin feels.
  • Remember that being too warm increases the risk of SIDS but being too cool will only result in your baby waking up more as they are uncomfortable.
  • Always know the temperature of the room your baby is sleeping in so you can make well-informed dressing decisions.
  • Avoid blankets and sheets and opt for seasonally appropriate swaddles, sleeping bags, sleep sacks or wearable blankets.
  • Choose 100% cotton clothing for baby to wear.
  • Use a fan if you wish.
  • Never place the crib too close to a warm radiator or an open window.

Top Tip

You should always place your baby to sleep on their backs,

on a firm well-fitting mattress in a well-ventilated crib.

Final Notes

If you enjoyed this post and know other parents who would enjoy this content about how to dress a baby for sleep, be sure to give it a share! 

And as you’ve seen dotted throughout this post, if you're looking for products for your little one and you're not sure where to begin, be sure to check out my Parenting Toolbox.

It is full of all my favourite products which I've tried to ensure are all non-toxic, eco friendly, sustainable and, of course, they’re all baby proof!

I have a section dedicated to sleep, which will be your guide to everything baby snooze related so be sure to give that a little look through too.

And if you have any blog recommendations that you'd like me to write about or questions related to dressing your little one for sleep, be sure to drop me an email at [email protected] and let me know!

Thank you for your continued support and until next time, Happy Parenting!

Teething to Tantrums Author

Paula McLaren is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and has been in the childcare industry as a Norland Nanny since 1982. Since then, her mission has been to help parents become the best they can possibly be. And each year, she continues to help more families understand their child's development, the trials and joys of parenting and of course, how to care for their little ones.

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