It’s midnight, and you finally got your little bundle of joy to settle into a peaceful sleep. It won’t last long, so you should take advantage and sleep, too. Why, then, are you peering into your baby’s bassinet and wondering whether she’s too hot or too cold, or whether she’s swaddled properly or a dozen other questions? We’ve got some answers to give you a little peace of mind. Here’s how to dress a baby for sleep!
You might also want to check out these split-screen baby monitors for some extra peace of mind!
The Basics of How to Dress a Baby for Sleep
Here are the basics. They should be wearing one more layer than what you would wear to sleep at night. Keep in mind, it’s unsafe for babies to sleep with a loose blanket. By adding an additional layer of clothing, you are making up for that. Often, this means a footed onesie and a muslin or cotton swaddle. However, there’s much more to consider.
You also need to take into account your baby’s sleep environment. Aim for the ideal room temperature between 68° and 72°F. You’ll have to account for whether your home tends to run cold or hot. Also, consider whether the second-floor bedrooms tend to be a different temperature than the ground floor.
If you’re unsure how many layers are too many, err on the side on keeping your little one slightly underdressed. This prevents dangers associated with the very real concern of overheating, which has been linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
The Swaddle Factor
Swaddling is a common way to soothe your baby and make them feel safe and secure like they are back in the womb. However, it can be a difficult skill to master. You need to ensure you’re doing it properly so that no loose ends impede the baby’s breathing.
Luckily, many swaddle blankets let you “cheat” with Velcro or zippers that keep your bundle of joy swaddled tightly and safely. Look for those made of a light cotton or muslin material, as both are lightweight and flexible as you roll your baby burrito. The SwaddleMe Original is my favorite “cheat” option, check it out here!
Once your baby begins to roll over, you’ll want to stop using a swaddle. It simply isn’t safe once the baby starts to move around. At this point, you should consider using a sleep sack or a wearable blanket as part of dressing your baby for sleep. These are also great options if your little one doesn’t like to be in a swaddle, which isn’t unusual. Many mamas are big fans of the Nested Bean Zen Sacks. They have a weighted center offering your baby the extra feeling of comfort.
Babies can be quite particular, and some won’t even tolerate a sleep sack. If this is your baby, stick to footed pajamas in warmer fabrics like fleece.
Sleep Scenarios to Consider When Dressing Your Baby to Sleep
Let’s say you’ve finally figured out just the right room temperature and sleep clothing, and then summer hits and the heat and humidity completely change your baby’s comfort level. When the nights are warm, it’s perfectly fine to keep baby in a short-sleeve cotton onesie or bodysuit, with a swaddle or thin wearable blanket on top. If it’s really sweltering and you don’t have air conditioning, lose the outer layer altogether.
What about the nights when Old Man Winter seems to permeate the whole house? Chilly nights call for heavier materials, such as fleece or microfleece over top of your baby’s standard cotton pajamas. Add additional layers if needed, but remember not to use a loose blanket.
The hospital kept your baby’s hat on at all times to help keep her newborn body temperature up, so should your little one be sleeping in a hat at home? The answer here is definitely not. Loose articles like hats can slip off and become hazardous as baby sleeps. Plus, babies actually release heat through their head when overheating, so keeping a hat on them once you are home from the hospital can actually lead to overheating.
What About Fit?
Once you determine what articles of clothing your baby should sleep in, you’ll want to consider fit, too. It can be tempting to size up. However, your baby is much safer in a snug fit. Loose clothing poses a danger of riding up toward the baby’s mouth and nose and leading to suffocation.
Don’t Forget About Convenience
Those designer footed pajamas with 18 miniature snaps are adorable, but you’ll be cursing them during the middle of the night diaper changes. Choose function over fashion and opt for simpler styles that use zippers or fewer snaps. Save your baby’s more elaborate, fashion-forward looks for daytime. Check out some stylish daytime options here!
How to Know if Your Baby is Dressed Comfortable for Sleep
Parents begin to learn their baby’s coos and cries pretty quickly, but sometimes it’s difficult to pick up on your child’s cues about temperature and comfort. In general, if your baby is still acting distressed after you have fed and changed them, it might be time to add or remove a layer.
Of course, you can also watch for common signs of overheating. Wet hair or visible perspiration, red cheeks, quick breathing, or an unusual rash are all signs that your baby is too hot. Some parents get confused because even very hot babies might have arms and legs that are cool to the touch. This is because a newborn’s circulatory system is still developing. Opt for feeling your child’s neck, chest or tummy to get a better gauge on temperature.
Although overheating is dangerous due to its link to SIDS, you should also be careful that your baby doesn’t get too cold. Hands and feet that are blue-ish in color are a clear sign that your child is too cold. If you notice this symptom, turn up the heat or add a layer immediately.
Remember, your baby is growing and changing every day. The sleep clothing that works at two months may no longer work at four months. Remain tuned into your own relative warmth or coldness and to your home’s temperature every day. Also, be sure to watch your baby for signs that he is too hot or too cold.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different sleep clothing combinations. Find what works best for your unique bundle of joy! When you feel stuck on a decision, always prioritize safety. With any luck, both you and baby will enjoy many restful nights of sleep.
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