How to Dress Your Baby For a Peaceful Night’s Sleep

6 Min Read | By Lottie Salako

Last Modified 9 June 2023   First Added 19 April 2023

This article was written and reviewed in line with our editorial policy.

For us grown-ups, what to wear to bed is a matter of what’s comfy – in the UK, 40% prefer PJs, while nearly 20% sleep naked! However, there’s much more to consider when it comes to our littlest family members.

Dressing newborns and babies properly while they sleep is a huge priority. Not just so that parents can get some well-deserved rest but also to keep them safe at every stage of their development. We’ll go over everything you need to know about sleepwear, from seasonal options, to how to check if they’re comfy and what to avoid.

5 types of sleep clothes for babies

Temperature is the most crucial factor to consider when choosing how to dress your baby. While you may have heard it’s best to bundle your baby up as snugly as possible, the ideal temperature for a baby’s bedroom is 16-20 degrees Celsius. And you should have a thermometer in your baby’s bedroom to ensure they’re appropriately dressed.

Let’s explore the best options for your little one’s nightwear:

1. Layers

The ideal thing you can do is dress them in layers rather than thicker materials. As you shouldn’t use a blanket with young babies, it’s generally recommended to wrap them in one more layer than you feel comfortable in.

2. Footed onesies

A cotton, footed onesie is one of the most popular choices for night clothes. Choosing one with feet and mittens means you can stop it from riding up while your baby sleeps and protect them from scratching themselves.

3. Swaddle

Swaddling is recommended for newborns up until they show signs of rolling over. A swaddle keeps them tucked up tight like a burrito, which can be calming for them and keep them safely on their back.

If you want to swaddle your baby, ensure that you follow guidance on how to do it properly, or you can get pre-made swaddle suits for ease.

4. Sleep sack

For slightly older babies, sleep sacks are the next level of swaddling. A sleeping bag leaves their legs and arms freer but still contained within the material, so they can stretch out but feel secure.

5. Two-piece PJs

If it is cold, you can dress your baby in a two-piece set with a top and bottoms, especially over a thinner onesie. However, since they are separate pieces, they can come apart and become uncomfortable during the night.

Light sleep clothes for summer

Ensuring your little one doesn’t get too hot is paramount for their health. Overheating can increase the risk of SIDs (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), also known as cot death. So, as it gets warmer, it’s important to make sure you dress them to keep cool:

  • Sleeveless and legless onesies/sleepsuits
  • Very thin fabrics such as muslin
  • Use a thin sheet on the mattress
  • If the weather is scorching, your baby is safe to sleep in just a nappy
  • Use a fan to circulate cool air

Learn more about regulating your baby’s temperature at night and how to tell if they are too warm.

Cosy sleep clothes during winter

Being too cold is less dangerous to babies than overheating, but we all know it’s uncomfortable and can stop you from sleeping!

You may be tempted to add warm bedding in the winter months, but you should never add loose material around your baby as they sleep. The best thing to do is make sure that their bedroom is at a comfortable temperature and dress them in more layers of clothing.

Here are more tips for how to dress your baby for sleep in winter:

  • Layer thinner outfits so you can easily remove them if needed – you’re going to need easy access to change their nappy during the night
  • Fleece-lined onesies, but make sure to check for signs of overheating
  • Add a thicker sheet underneath them but make sure this is tucked in tightly with no loose fabric

What to avoid...

When it comes to sleep advice for babies, the focus is on reducing the risk of SIDs. This can be very scary for many parents, but it is very uncommon, and there is a lot of advice about keeping your little one safe. This includes some guidance on how you should not dress your baby for sleep.

  1. Avoid loose clothing and bedding that can cover your baby’s head and mouth or get caught on them. This includes blankets, pillows, and hats.
  2. Choose natural materials such as cotton, wool, and linen that are breathable and not treated with chemicals.
  3. Do not put a heated blanket or hot water bottle in with your baby.

Should you swaddle your baby?

Although there is evidence that humans have swaddled their babies for thousands of years, it can feel unsafe. But do you need to?

Some of the benefits of swaddling include:

  • It mimics touch, which helps to soothe young babies
  • It protects them against the natural startle reflex, which makes their limbs jerk
  • It can encourage them to sleep for longer
  • It stops them from scratching themselves
  • It keeps them on their backs, which is the safest sleep position

However, you must use suitable materials and techniques for swaddling to be safe and comfortable for your little one.

How do you know if your baby is comfy?

Without all the usual comforts that we get used to as adults, you may worry about how you know if your little one is comfy in their cot. Thankfully, babies are very good at telling us if there is something wrong.

If they are uncomfortable, they will likely fuss and cry. So, if your baby is more reluctant to settle down, they may not have the right sleep environment.

Tips for checking their comfort:

  • Check the bedroom thermometer.
  • Ensure they are not near a heat source (e.g. radiator or direct sunlight).
  • Check their tummy – if this is hot or cold to the touch, it indicates their internal temperature. Extremities like hands and feet may be cooler as their circulatory system is still developing.

The best bedding for babies

Regarding bedding, there are minimal recommendations for tiny babies. It is essential that they sleep flat on their back with their feet against the bottom of the cot or basket. Here’s what you do need:

You should never give a baby under 12 months a duvet, quilt, blanket, pillows, or other loose bedding items. This is to reduce the risk of suffocation and overheating during the night.

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