What Should My Baby Wear After Swaddling Is Over? | The Happy Sleeper (2024)

Parents hear a lot about swaddling, but what comes next?

We’ve seen many moms and dads make understandable mistakes in baby bedtime attire. When it comes to dressing a baby for sleep, the goal of the first four months is the opposite of what lies beyond—that can make for a certain amount of pajama confusion. Newborns have very immature nervous systems, lots of reflexive movements, and little control over their limbs. Swaddling keeps them nestled tightly while their nervous systems are developing and gives them the best chance of sailing smoothly in and out of stages of sleep.

The nervous system matures quickly, though, and once a baby is somewhere between three and five months, she’s much more likely to regulate her movements, have good control over her arms and legs, and have a mature circadian system (internal clock) telling her to sleep when it’s nighttime.

At this point, it’s time to dress a baby for movement, which means pajamas that are fitted, not too heavy, and that don’t get tangled. We recommend one-piece pajamas instead of sleep sacks or other sleep suits for this reason. Expect and encourage your baby to tumble around, sit up, stand up, and eventually walk around and explore her crib; it’s her domain and she should feel free to move unencumbered.

At first babies can be disoriented by the free-range movement, but over time it does help them sleep. That’s because babies are more likely to sleep through the night when they choose their own body position, and when they have the freedom to replicate that position easily every time they stir.

One of the most common missteps we see in sleep consultations is that people over dress their babies. There’s a misconception that warmer equals sleepier, but the opposite tends to be true: people of all ages sleep best when the room is cool (65-68 degrees). Imagine yourself in a warm room with heavy layers on you neck-to-toe, that you couldn’t remove!

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. You can dress your baby in footie pajamas, or one-piece pajamas with no feet. If it’s very warm in the middle of the summer, just a onesie will do. As adults, we’re used to being covered to sleep, but just like using a pillow, babies don’t know the difference and don’t mind having toes or legs exposed.

When bedtime rolls around, think cool and free to move. Your baby will have the best chance of finding her cozy position and having a good night’s sleep.

What Should My Baby Wear After Swaddling Is Over? | The Happy Sleeper (2024)

FAQs

What Should My Baby Wear After Swaddling Is Over? | The Happy Sleeper? ›

Once you have stopped swaddling, baby should sleep in any type of pajamas. Footed sleepers, two piece pajamas, or a even a onesie are perfect. Babies overheat easily, so always err on the side of baby being cooler rather than warmer. I recommend sleep sacks only when a parent feels they are needed for warmth.

What should a baby wear to sleep after swaddle? ›

At this point, it's time to dress a baby for movement, which means pajamas that are fitted, not too heavy, and that don't get tangled. We recommend one-piece pajamas instead of sleep sacks or other sleep suits for this reason.

What do you put a baby in after a swaddle? ›

Consider alternative sleep options: Once you stop swaddling, you can explore alternative sleep options such as using sleep sacks, wearable blankets, or sleeping bags. These provide a sense of security while allowing for more freedom of movement.

What to wear under the happiest baby swaddle? ›

For most sleeps, you'll need to dress your little one in a cotton bodysuit or cotton pajamas before wrapping them in their swaddle blanket. And the swaddle you choose matters, too. You should always choose a breathable cotton swaddle, no matter the season. (Fleece is not breathable and can cause overheating.)

What to use after baby outgrows sleep sack? ›

After a year old, if your child is ready, you can start to transition from a sleep sack to a blanket.

How do you transition from a swaddle to a sleep suit? ›

Swaddle snuggly like you have been doing but leave one arm out. This gives your baby a chance to adjust slowly. Do this for 1-2 weeks; then, when your baby is adjusting well with one arm unrestrained, allow both arms free and transition to a sleep sack. Follow your baby's lead on the exact timing.

How to dress baby for sleep no sleep sack? ›

Comfortable bodysuits are a great starting point. The Sleep Foundation suggests adding one additional layer of clothing compared to what an adult would need to be comfortable in the room. Alternatively, you can add a cozy wool swaddle.

How to dress baby for sleep once they roll over? ›

Do note that once your baby starts to roll over, it's time to lose the swaddle, as it's no longer considered a safe option. Baby can graduate to a sleep slack or wearable blanket instead. These are also great options if your munchkin didn't take to the swaddle from the get-go.

Do you put a sleep sack over a swaddle? ›

Sleep sacks and swaddles aren't meant to be used together.

How to know 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.

Do babies wear onesies under a swaddle? ›

Swaddling in Room Temperatures Under 70°F

Think long-sleeved onesies or even footie pajamas as a base layer. Consider swaddles with a higher TOG rating to keep your baby warm.

What to put baby in to sleep after swaddle? ›

Once you have stopped swaddling, baby should sleep in any type of pajamas. Footed sleepers, two piece pajamas, or a even a onesie are perfect. Babies overheat easily, so always err on the side of baby being cooler rather than warmer. I recommend sleep sacks only when a parent feels they are needed for warmth.

When should you stop using sleep sacks? ›

In most cases, you don't want to stop using a sleep sack before their first birthday. Otherwise, you'll need to find an alternative way to keep your baby warm that doesn't pose a suffocation hazard. Once they turn one, you can safely transition your child to regular bedding options.

At what age should you stop cuddling your child to sleep? ›

While every child is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer, generally speaking, experts advise that parents should aim to stop snuggling at night with their kids by age five. By this stage, your child should have developed a strong sense of independence and be able to self-soothe if they wake up at night.

What do babies sleep in when you stop swaddling? ›

Instead of swaddling your infant, you may consider using sleep clothing such as a wearable blanket or a sleeping sack. Keep in mind, if the item you choose constricts your baby's arms, chest, or body, stop using it when you see that your baby is attempting to roll over on her own.

When should I Unswaddle my baby at night? ›

Some doctors warn parents to stop swaddling at 2 months for fear your baby might start rolling to their stomach soon. Even the prestigious AAP recommends parents should wean from swaddling when infants start to roll, which can happen as early as 2 to 3 months.

How many layers should a baby wear to bed? ›

What Should My Baby Wear to Sleep? You should dress your baby one-to-two layers to sleep—make sure they don't have any strings or ties—and never cover baby's head. Until the baby can roll on their own, a swaddle or sleep sack can be one of those layers.

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