How to Dress Your Baby for Sleep
Updated: Apr 6
Are you one of those moms (or maybe your mom, or your grandma is…) who is constantly worried that your baby is either too hot or too cold at night? I mean, you feel their little fingers and they’re just like ice, right?!
I’m here to help you sort it out and offer a baseline for keeping your baby comfortable when they’re sleeping.
One thing I want you to remember is that it can be very baby-dependent. Naturally, some people just run warmer or colder than normal. Keep that in mind about your own child. My older dude runs colder for sleeping, while my younger runs hotter, so these are things I take into consideration. The information presented here is average recommendations, and you may need to tweak according to your child.
Consider the Room Temperature
Ideally, we want your child’s nursery to be between 19-21 degrees Celsuis to ensure that they don’t overheat. Overheating increases the risk of SIDS so this is definitely something to be mindful of. If you’re not certain of the temperature in the room where your child sleeps, you can purchase an indoor thermometer and place it in your child’s room.
If their room temperature is within the recommended range, you can almost be certain that they will be comfortable with what you’re wearing, plus one layer. I usually recommend this “plus one” layer be a sleep sack. Sleep sacks are awesome, both from a safety and comfort standpoint! More on those later…
So, if you’re sleeping with fleece pajamas and a comforter - 2 layers, you’d want to have your baby in a diaper shirt, pajamas, and their sleep sack - 3 layers.
If your child’s room runs warmer than the range, you might not need an additional layer. If it’s cooler, you might want to add an additional layer underneath. Again, assess how your child feels centrally to help you make the best decision for them.
Remember that we don’t want your baby overheating, so to make sure they really aren’t too warm (or too cold) when they’re sleeping, you can do the hand test; Place your hand on their neck, head, stomach, or back…assess how they feel to the touch centrally on their body. Extremities are NOT a good indicator of body temperature as many babies have poor circulation in their hands and feet. It could be warm in the room and their little fingers still feel cold to the touch, so make sure you go by how they feel centrally.
If they feel warm, consider removing a layer. If they feel cool, add one. Adjust accordingly as the seasons change, especially if the room temperature varies from season to season.
I recommend using muslin or light cotton sleep sacks in the summer, and anything thicker/warmer in the winter. I really like the Kyte or Halo brand. Their swaddles can simply become a sleep sack by leaving the arms out of the swaddle, so it’s kind of a nice option until your little one fully grows out of it.
For older toddlers who may like to climb, a sleep sack is also a great option for helping contain your child in their crib, limiting their ability to swing their leg up and over the crib railing. However, they don’t hinder movement from a developmental perspective. Babies are active sleepers, and just like you and I do, they need to move around to get comfy for sleeping! A sleep sack stays on their body and allows them to move around freely while simultaneously keeping them warm.
Loose blankets pose a risk, especially with younger babies. Nothing extra should be in the crib with your child until they’re at least 12 months old. Even then, toddlers have a hard time keeping blankets on themselves, so a sleep sack is definitely the best option!
Another reason I LOVE sleep sacks…they make a great sleep association! Zipping your child up nap after nap, night after night will cue their body that it’s time for sleep. They might even yawn just looking at it!
Sleep Sacks and TOG Ratings
How do you know what sleep sack is best for your child??
Check out the brand’s TOG rating!
A TOG rating (thermal overall grade) is the amount of warmth a certain material or fabric provides, and this can vary from material to material and brand to brand. You’ll want to see what the specific TOG is for the sleep sack you are looking to purchase is, and buy the appropriately rated sleep sack based on the temperature in your child’s bedroom. The higher the TOG, the warmer the capability of the fabric. The lower the TOG, the cooler the fabric.
You might consider having different TOG-rated sleep sacks for different times of the year, especially if the temperature in your child’s room fluctuates with the seasons.
Kyte baby sleep bags are one of my absolute favourites. With their breathable bamboo fabric, they are the softest sleep bags I have ever felt. I was introduced to them recently and I wish I had the smaller sizes for my boys.
Stay cozy, friends, and don’t forget to bookmark this post for when the seasons change - you might want to come back to it!