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Dress Your Baby for Comfortable Sleep

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Cara Dumaplin

Mom dressing baby for sleep

How do you dress your baby so they’re comfortable for sleep? I know that this can cause parents so much stress. Why? Well, we know that overheating a baby isn’t safe and that cold babies don’t sleep well. Let’s talk about how to dress your baby for sleep and how to know if they are comfortable. 

Is there a perfect temperature for sleep?

You may see recommendations for room temperatures between 68℉ and 72℉ degrees for sleeping. Before you adjust your thermostat, I want you to consider this: We know that different homes have different temperatures. The recommended range doesn’t always happen, yet babies can still be comfortable and safe.

So where do I start?

First, you’re going to dress your baby for sleep how you’re dressed.

Let’s think about how YOU are dressed for sleep. Are you wearing flannel pajamas under a heavy comforter? Dress your baby like you. Maybe you need to use fleece-footed pajamas and a sleep sack or swaddle. Let’s say you’re wearing a t-shirt and a sheet when you go to bed. Dress your baby like you. Your baby might wear a onesie and a lightweight swaddle or sleep sack. 

If you’re comfortable, your baby most likely is comfortable too.

How do I know if I got it right?

Here’s my trick: Assess. Don’t obsess.

What does that mean? Feel your baby’s core, chest, neck, back, and tummy. You aren’t going to use her hands or feet as indicators. You’re always going to feel the core. Does her core feel warm, but not sweaty? Not cold? Ok, you’ve nailed it!

Let’s say you assess, and he is a bit sweaty or his cheeks are flushed. He’s probably too warm. You need to take off a layer. If he’s in long-sleeve jammies, he might need short sleeves or a lighter sleep sack or swaddle.

If your newborn runs warm, but still needs a swaddle, here are a few options to keep your baby comfortable:

What if she feels cool? You’re going to add a layer. Consider using thicker jammies, a onesie under pajamas, or maybe a thicker sleep sack or swaddle. 

Keep in mind: We’re still going to follow all of the safe sleep guidelines. We aren’t adding blankets, hats, weighted sleep sacks or swaddles, or anything loose to the crib.

Some sleep sacks and swaddles come with a TOG (thermal overall grade) rating that tells you how warm they might be. I talk about those in this blog if you want to read more. 

Want to see this in action?

Let me show you some babies. I want you to notice how different parents dress their babies in different temperature settings. All of these parents got it right, and all of these babies are dressed a little differently.

I’ve always heard that I should dress my baby in one more layer than I’m wearing. Should I just do that?

In the very beginning, this is true. Right after you deliver, you might see your nurse add a layer to help keep your baby warm. In those first few days, babies are learning to regulate their temperature. Usually, by the time they come home or in that first week, they’ve figured it out. You can always talk with your doctor if you have questions. 

Let’s talk about the monitor.

In my experience, monitors aren’t always reliable for measuring the true temperature in the room. So, if the monitor reads too warm or too cool, we aren’t going to stress. You're going to observe and assess your baby. Will you watch this? 

Parents, I don’t want this to be stressful for you. Remember: assess, don’t obsess. You’ve got this.

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