Occasionally, we have clients email us with what they think is a “silly” question.
What should my baby sleep in and wear to bed?
They want to know what we recommend by way of pajamas, sleep sacks, etc. for babies and toddlers. This is a great question!
We, new parents, tend to be overly worried our babies will be cold. So, it is probably rare that babies are not dressed warmly enough. Consider that babies can be dressed TOO warmly just the same as not warmly enough.
Here are a few general guidelines as to what babies sleep in at various ages. Do use your best judgment, though. Decide on what your baby should sleep in based on where you live, how hot/cold you keep the temperature in your house when your baby sleeps, and your baby’s preference. There may also be other unique factors you need to consider as well.
These are just guidelines and you know your baby best!
What Should Swaddled Newborns Sleep In and Wear To Bed?
Do not want to dress your newborn in too-warm pajamas because she will be swaddled, too. This is an added layer that may make her too warm. And, if your baby may fall asleep in a car seat, this may also add a bit of heat.
Not only could being too warm make your baby uncomfortable, but it also increases the risk of SIDS (note that using a fan can decrease the risk by 72%).
Think about layers at every age, because if he or she feels too warm, you can simply remove one layer at night. If she spits up on the outer layer, depending on severity, you can simply replace the outer layer, too.
For newborns who are swaddled, I recommend a onesie underneath a light sleep-and-play outfit (long-sleeve in the winter and short-sleeve in the summer). Then, swaddle your baby.
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 not swaddled, read on.
What Do Babies Sleep In and Wear To Bed?
A sleep sack is a wearable blanket and is safer than putting a loose, thick blanket in the crib with your baby. Babies don’t have the fine motor skills she needs to keep it off her head.
This transition swaddle is another good choice, so you can gradually get your baby used to being unswaddled.
In the summer, depending on the temperature of your house, you may want to skip the sleep sack or blanket all together. Babies sleep better in a cooler temperature, approximately 68-70 degrees as do adults. For most people (though not me), body temperature drops at night in order to lead to a better night’s sleep. If your baby’s body temperature doesn’t drop, you should dress him even lighter.
What Do Toddlers Sleep In and Wear To Bed?
One important thing with toddlers is that when they are TOO warm when they sleep, they are more prone to night terrors and nightmares.
So, you do want to make sure your toddler is warm enough at night, but not too warm, just like your baby.
Your toddler’s skin should be comfortable to the touch and even a little cool, but not cold/frigid.
Even when your toddler can talk, it isn’t always something they can express as to why they are waking at night. Sometimes we have to be detectives (at least I’ve felt that way!)
Many people continue to use sleep sacks into the toddler years, so this is still a good option. They make wearable blankets that allow your toddler to walk in them. And, then you don’t have to worry about him keeping the covers on at night.
The Merino Kids Baby Sleep Bag is a good choice. It is made from Merino Wool, which regulates your toddler’s body heat. And, they make a baby’s sleep bag, too, that helps to regulate your baby’s temperature.
There are also toddler sleep sacks that have legs for your toddler’s feet to go through, so he can walk while wearing the blanket.
What if Your Baby or Toddler Doesn’t Like Sleep Sacks?
If you and/or your baby or toddler do not like a wearable blanket or sleep sack, most people use a regular blanket. However, don’t expect your toddler to keep the covers on all night until sometime after three or four years old, usually.
There are probably a few two-year-olds who will keep them on, learn to replace them on their own early, or simply don’t move too much at night, but generally, we expect 3 and 4 year olds to continue to call for you at night to replace the covers.
Therefore, if your toddler is repeatedly calling for you in the middle of the night to be covered up, we recommend simply dressing her more warmly. This way, she doesn’t need the covers on at all. That way, once the covers come off, it won’t matter.
In the Winter, and if your toddler is prone to being cold, consider fleece pajamas or putting a t-shirt on underneath cotton pajamas plus socks.