How Warmly Should You Dress Your Baby For Winter Sleep?

How Warmly Should You Dress Your Baby For Sleep?
Given that it is getting pretty darn cold outside these days (many of us in the U.S. have been experiencing colder-than-normal temperatures, thanks to winter storm Cleon), we thought it would be appropriate to bring you an article about dressing your baby for wintertime sleep.

How warm should your baby be at night? Let’s take a look!

Don’t Dress Your Baby Too Warmly

It’s a safe bet that most caring, loving parents (and we know that’s just what you are!) are more in danger of overdressing their babies for sleep, than of underdressing them, because we worry about our babies feeling cold.

But remember, babies who are TOO warm won’t sleep well (just like you probably don’t sleep well if you feel overheated). In fact, toddlers and preschoolers who are too warm at night may be more inclined to have nightmares or night terrors. So avoid the urge to pile on fleece, as it could make your little one too warm.

In reality, the ideal sleep temperature for most children and adults is a bit on the cool side – right around 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius). Not sure if your baby is too warm or too cold? Do a ‘skin check’ – your child’s skin should be comfortable to the touch and even a little cool (but not cold/frigid.)

Dressing Your Baby For Sleep

Here are some general guidelines as to what babies sleep in at various ages, but you do have to use your best judgment based on where you live, how hot/cold you keep the temperature in your house when your baby sleeps, and your baby’s preference (some will prefer to be warmer than others), among other factors. These are just guidelines, and you know your baby best.


For newborns who are swaddled, Nicole recommends a onesie underneath a light sleep-and-play outfit (long-sleeved in the winter). In the summer, you can probably skip the footed outfit or socks, but in the winter, you may want to keep them on. If your newborn is no longer swaddled, read the ‘Babies’ section below.

Then, over top of this, you can swaddle your baby snuggly in a lightweight cotton blanket. Just be sure that your swaddle is snug enough that your baby can’t kick the blanket loose, but not so tight that he can’t move his legs and breathe comfortably.


Once your newborn has grown up a bit and you are trying to stop swaddling your baby, you can dress your baby the same as a newborn, but then consider a sleep sack, instead of the swaddle. It provides warmth without the suffocation dangers associated with loose blankets.

More Tips on ‘Winterizing’ Your Baby

For even more tips on dressing your baby for winter weather (including outdoor winter gear and tips on your baby’s winter skin care), check out this video, from blogger Melissa.

What does/did your baby or toddler sleep in?

Want to get your baby sleeping well this winter, but need some help? Look no further!

  • Ready to get your baby sleeping through the night? Please be sure to pick up your FREE copy of 5 (tear-free) Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night, our e-Book with tear-free tips to help your baby sleep better. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (babies) or The 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep (toddlers). These books are ideal for parents who want to sleep train on their own, but who need more resources.
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  1. Paula says

    What if you have a child who screams when put into footed pjs or sleep sacks? Mine’s a toddler. I’ve had to put on two shirts, fleece pj pants, socks and throw on a blanket (which she eventually kicks off).

  2. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Paula — ah, yes. Don’t you love it when your toddler chooses to pitch a fit over the smallest, most insignificant thing? (I speak from personal experience here, too! ;) ) I’d say that if the footed pj’s or sleep sacks pose a problem, the don’t force them. Sounds like you’ve found a workaround that provides enough warmth.

    You may want to try re-introducing the footed PJ’s and/or sleep sack after a bit, though — it could be that this is just a weird, short-lived phase that will pass. Toddlers seem to have lots of those. ;)

    Hope this helps, Paula! Thanks for commenting. :)

  3. Amanda says

    I dress my baby in footed pajama and put him in a baby deedee sleep sack once he asleep. He stays cozy and comfortable and its very much in routine. Yes! you should re-introduce the sleep sack as babies stay covered and dont overheat with suitable clothing as per to your house temperature.

  4. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Amanda — we used sleep sacks with all 3 of my kids, too – they’re so handy!

    Thanks for commenting! :)