How to Dress Baby for Sleep (2024)

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How do you dress your baby for sleep? I know this can cause parents stress. Why? Well, we know that overheating a baby isn’t safe and that cold babies don’t sleep well. Let’s talk about how to dress your baby for sleep and how to know if they’re comfortable.

Note from Cara: Join the Taking Cara Babies community on Instagram for even more newborn, baby, and toddler sleep tips and resources!

What is the best temperature for baby sleep?#anchor

You may see recommendations for room temperatures between 68℉ and 72℉ (20℃ - 22℃) for sleeping. Before you adjust your thermostat, I want you to consider this: We know that different homes have different temperatures. For example, I live in Arizona. In the summer, it’s not uncommon for our home to be around 78℉, but everyone in our family still feels comfortable. Likewise, even outside of the “recommended range,” babies can still be comfortable and safe as long as they’re dressed appropriately for that temperature.

What should my baby wear to sleep?#anchor

First, you’re going to dress your baby for sleep based on the way you’re dressed.

Let’s think about how you are dressed for sleep. Are you wearing flannel pajamas under a heavy comforter? Dress your baby like you. Maybe you need to use fleece-footed pajamas and a sleep sack or swaddle.

Let’s say you’re wearing a t-shirt and a sheet when you go to bed. Dress your baby like you. Your baby might wear a onesie and a lightweight swaddle or sleep sack. If you’re comfortable, your baby is most likely comfortable too.

Then, use my mantra “assess, don’t obsess.”

What does that mean? Feel your baby’s core (their chest, neck, back, and tummy). Instead of using your baby’s hands or feet as indicators, feel their core. Does your baby’s core feel warm, but not sweaty? Not cold? Ok, you’ve nailed it!

Want to see this in action?

Expert Tip: It’s helpful to reassess how your little one is dressed for sleep when the seasons change. This helps ensure that they are comfortable and set up for the best sleep possible!

What are signs your baby is too hot while sleeping?#anchor

Signs that your baby is too hot while sleeping are:

  • Your baby’s neck or hair are sweaty.

  • Your baby’s cheeks are flushed.

  • Your baby’s core (chest, neck, back, and tummy) feels clammy or sweaty.

Let’s say you assess, and your baby is a bit sweaty or their cheeks are flushed. They are probably too warm. If your baby is dressed too warmly, you can simply reduce the layers under their sleep sack/swaddle or opt for a sleep sack/swaddle with a lower TOG rating.

If your newborn runs warm but still needs a swaddle, here are a few options to keep your baby comfortable:

What are the signs your baby is cold at night?#anchor

If your baby is too cold at night, the core of their body (chest, neck, back, and tummy) would feel cool to the touch. It’s important to know that your baby’s fingers and toes are not a good indicator of warmth. Your baby could be dressed perfectly yet still have cooler fingers or toes.

So what do you do if your baby’s core feels cool to the touch? You’re going to add a layer. No, not by adding a blanket to the crib. Instead, consider using thicker jammies, a onesie under pajamas, or maybe switching to a sleep sack or swaddle with a higher TOG rating.

Keep in mind: We’re still going to follow all safe sleep guidelines. We aren’t adding blankets, hats, weighted sleep sacks or swaddles, or anything loose to the crib.

How many layers should a newborn wear?#anchor

Right after you deliver, you might see your nurse add a layer to help keep your baby warm. In those first few days, babies are learning to regulate their temperature. Usually by the time they come home or in that first week, they’ve figured it out and your newborn can be dressed in the same way you are. But remember, after you dress your baby, think of my mantra “assess, don’t obsess.” And just so you know, the official recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics says that an infant should never be dressed in more than one additional layer than adults in the same environment.

If you have any questions or concerns about your baby’s layers or temperature, consider running it by your pediatrician.

Should newborns wear hats to sleep?#anchor

No, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics(1), newborns should not wear hats to sleep or even indoors after the first few hours of life or in the NICU.

In those first few hours, babies are learning to regulate their temperature, so it’s possible you may see them wear a hat in the hospital. By the time your baby comes home, hats are no longer helpful in temperature regulation indoors.

Safety Tip: It’s important to know that any loose items or clothing (like hats, mittens, hair bows, pacifier clips, etc.) are not considered safe for sleep.

Are baby monitor temperatures accurate?#anchor

In my experience, monitors can be unreliable or inaccurate in their temperature readings. If the monitor seems to indicate that the room is too warm or too cool, we aren’t going to stress. Instead, go into the room, notice the temperature yourself. Then, observe and assess your baby for signs that they’re too hot or too cold.

Will you watch this?

Safe sleep reminders#anchor

As a mom, NICU nurse, wife of a pediatrician, and a sleep expert, safe sleep is always my priority.

A safe sleep environment is:

  • A separate sleeping space

  • Flat and firm

  • Free of loose bedding, clothing, or any other items (other than a pacifier)

  • Labeled as a “crib,” “bassinet,” “portable crib,” or “play yard”

Your baby should always be:

  • Placed on their back for sleep

  • Transitioned out of the swaddle when you see signs of rolling

  • Dressed appropriately for the temperature of the room

  • Free of any loose clothing or accessories

How to Dress Baby for Sleep (2024)


How to Dress Baby for Sleep? ›

Aim for lightweight clothing such as a onesie and a sleep sack to help the baby feel secure and cozy without over-bundling.” According to experts, wearable blankets or sleep sacks can be safe and effective. View Source types of sleepwear. However, these products require certain precautions.

How should a baby be dressed for sleep? ›

Aim for lightweight clothing such as a onesie and a sleep sack to help the baby feel secure and cozy without over-bundling.” According to experts, wearable blankets or sleep sacks can be safe and effective. View Source types of sleepwear. However, these products require certain precautions.

How do I make sure my baby gets enough sleep? ›

How can I get my baby used to night and day?
  1. keep the lights down low.
  2. not talk much and keep your voice quiet.
  3. put your baby down as soon as they've been fed and changed.
  4. not change your baby unless they need it.
  5. not play with your baby.

What should a baby wear in 72 degrees for sleep? ›

Layering at a Cozy 72 Degrees

1.0 TOG: A snug, yet breathable 1.0 TOG sleep bag that's just right for those 72-degree nights, wrapping your baby in a layer of comfort akin to a soft hug. Smart Outfitting: Begin with a lightweight PJ, then layer with a 1.0 TOG sleep sack for a peaceful sleep setup.

How to dress baby for sleep without a sleep sack? ›

Here's a guideline for how to dress baby for cool but comfortable sleep: If it's chilly, layer a onesie under your child's footie pajamas. If it's very cold, add a layer of a blanket sleeper (a fleece zipper pajama that goes over the thin cotton pajama). If it's warm, opt for just a one-piece breathable cotton pajama.

How to tell if baby is cold at night? ›

If your baby is too cold at night, the core of their body (chest, neck, back, and tummy) would feel cool to the touch. It's important to know that your baby's fingers and toes are not a good indicator of warmth. Your baby could be dressed perfectly yet still have cooler fingers or toes.

How do I know if my baby is dressed too hot for sleep? ›

It's crucial to monitor a baby's temperature and ensure they are comfortable and not overheating during sleep. Look for signs such as flushed skin, excessive sweating, rapid breathing, irritability, or lethargy, as these can indicate overheating.

How do I know if my baby is getting enough sleep? ›

4 Signs Your Baby Isn't Getting Enough Sleep
  1. Constantly Yawning or Rubbing Their Eyes. One of the first ways to tell if your baby is having trouble resting is if they constantly rub their eyes or yawn. ...
  2. Whining or Fussy Before or After Sleeping. ...
  3. Walks or Car Rides Put Them To Sleep. ...
  4. Snoring Regularly.
May 3, 2022

What happens to the baby if you dont get enough sleep? ›

Sleep loss, and sleep apnea in particular, can also have a direct effect on your baby's future health. Women with untreated sleep apnea are more likely to have children who suffer from metabolic syndrome, and the recurring loss of oxygen during sleep may also lead to developmental disabilities in children.

How do I know if my baby is oversleeping? ›

“ A way a parent can tell if an infant is sleeping too much is if they're not waking for feeds. An infant should feed every 2.5 to 3 hours and be wakeful during the feed.”

Will baby wake up if too cold? ›

Will my baby wake up if they are too hot or cold? Babies are more likely to wake up or present as fussy if they are cold, often in line with a temperature drop.

Is 74 degrees too hot for baby room? ›

Set the Ideal Room Temperature for a Newborn

To help decrease the chance of SIDS, strive to keep the nursery at 68 to 72 degrees F in all seasons. Temperatures of up to 75 degrees are acceptable in very hot climates.

Will baby cry if too cold? ›

If your baby is too cold or uncomfortable, they will likely cry to let you know! The ideal temperature for the body to sleep well is between 68-72 degrees F, but if that's not possible in your home or part of the world, that's ok! Don't stress - you can always adjust factors to ensure that your baby is comfortable.

Can baby wear footie pajamas under sleep sack? ›

So, what should your baby wear under a sleep sack? Fortunately, there are a number of options to choose from! If it's cold, you may want to choose something warm that will cover your baby's arms and legs, such as cozy footie pajamas. This will ensure that your baby's arms and legs stay nice and warm.

What age should babies stop wearing sleep sacks? ›

The AAP recommends against using loose blankets in your child's crib for the first year. With this in mind, many parents tend to use sleep sacks up at least until their child's first birthday and some use it well into toddlerhood.

Can a baby sleep in an onesie? ›

She recommends checking their face for redness and feeling their body temperature. "If they feel too cold, add an extra layer. If they feel too hot, take off a layer. It's OK for a baby to sleep in only a onesie if they're comfortable."

What temperature should my baby wear at night? ›

If it's below 20 degrees, layer up your newborn with a sleepsuit. It's important to remember not to dress your baby in a hat or gloves for bedtime, even in cold weather, and during the summer months don't overdress them, as this can increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

What should babies wear to bed by age? ›

A good rule of thumb is to dress them in one more layer than you would need to feel comfortable. Use a SleepSack Swaddle or Wearable Blanket: Avoid using loose blankets which are unsafe for children under a year old.

What is a good sleeping style for baby? ›

Health care providers should encourage parents to do the following to reduce the risk of SIDS: Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep—for naps and at night. The back sleep position is the safest, and every sleep time counts.

How should I dress my baby to prevent SIDS? ›

Because overheating may raise a baby's risk of SIDS, dress your infant in light, comfortable clothes for sleeping, and keep the room temperature at a level that's comfortable for an adult.

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