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    What Should a Baby Wear While Sleeping? ​

    By NCVC Staff | Published on Sep 15, 2023

    As a new parent, you want to make sure your baby is comfortable and safe during sleep time. But figuring out what to dress them in can be a bit tricky. It’s not just about picking the cutest outfit from their closet. Your baby’s sleepwear should help regulate their body temperature and reduce the risk of suffocation or strangulation. So, let’s explore some expert tips on what your baby should wear while sleeping.

    Wondering what a baby should wear while sleeping? Whether it’s summer, winter, or somewhere in between, we rounded up expert tips you need to know. (Now if you could only get them to sleep through the night!)

    Choosing Bedtime Clothes for Your Baby

    When a baby sleeps, you should make sure their body maintains an ideal temperature. Too-hot environments can lead to overheating, which is especially dangerous for babies because it’s been linked to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).1 On the other hand, too-cold temperatures can also be dangerous and uncomfortable.

    Simply judging how you feel in the nursery or bedroom isn’t necessarily the best indicator. A good rule of thumb is that babies should wear one additional layer than what you’d be comfortable wearing in the same environment.2

    “Your baby should be in one more layer than you sleep in,” says Nicole Cannon, owner of Sleepy Mama Sleep Consulting and a certified member of the Association of Professional Sleep Consultants.


    One or two fitted layers works well in most situations, adds Lisa Ehl Lewis, MD , a pediatrician in Fort Worth, Texas. “Babies often sleep in a fitted onesie with sleep pants. If your home is cold, add an extra layer,” she says. This extra layer can be a receiving blanket if swaddling, or a wearable sleep sack if the room is extra chilly.2


    Speaking of the temperature, are wondering how to set the thermostat? “The consensus among sleep experts is between 68-72 degrees” Fahrenheit, says Cannon.

    Related: How to Keep Your Baby Safe and Comfortable in the Summer Heat

    Dressing Your Baby for Sleep on Cold Nights

    When it’s cold, a sleep sack or wearable blanket can keep your baby toasty. Never put loose blankets in the crib with your baby, as these can raise the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), says the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Also avoid other loose, soft objects like comforters, mattress toppers, pillows, non-fitted sheets, and stuffed animals.3

    Cannon suggests long pajamas, possibly with a onesie underneath. Depending on the temperature of the room, you can top it off with a heavier sleep sack. “If it’s very cold, I will bump up the sleep sack weight to 2.5 TOG,” says Cannon.

    Related: The Best Sleep Sacks, Tested by Our Own Babies and Toddlers

    In extremely cold weather, you can consider adding fleece pajamas, as long as your baby doesn’t get too hot—though Cannon generally recommends a heavier sleep sack instead. “It’s healthier for a child not to be overheated, so rather than many layers, I opt for a warmer sleep sack so that there’s still some breathability in their pajamas,” she says.

    Parents should also avoid outfits with hats or hoods for safety reasons. “No clothing should cover a baby’s face as this can cause suffocation,” says Dr. Lewis.

    How to Know If Your Baby Is Comfortable

    It’s important that a baby not get overheated or too cold, says Dr. Lewis. 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.”

    Cannon you shouldn’t gauge the temperature reading on their hands and feet. “It’s normal for infant hands and feet to be cold,” she says. “Instead check a child’s trunk or back of their neck. If a baby has a slightly cool chest or neck, then that’s a sign the temperature is good. It should never be too hot or sweaty.”

    Related: 7 Unsafe Sleep Products To Keep Out of the Crib

    Watch for these signs that your child might be overheating, according to the AAP and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):5

    • Hot skin
    • Sweaty body
    • Faster breathing
    • Fussiness
    • Reddened skin
    • Flushed cheeks
    • Lethargy or sluggishness
    • Rapid heartbeat

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