As a new parent, you'll likely obsess about every aspect of your baby's sleep—including what they wear to bed. It's not as simple as grabbing the cutest pair of footie pajamas in their closet. Your little one's outfit must help them maintain the proper temperature throughout the night. Plus, choosing an unsafe option might increase the risk of suffocation or strangulation.
Wondering what a baby should wear while sleeping? Whether it's summer, winter, or somewhere in between, we rounded up expert tips you need to know. (Now if you could only get them to sleep through the night!)
When a baby sleeps, you should make sure their body maintains an ideal temperature. Too-hot environments can lead to overheating, which is especially dangerous for babies because it's been linked to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). On the other hand, too-cold temperatures can also be dangerous and uncomfortable.
Simply judging how you feel in the nursery or bedroom isn't necessarily the best indicator. A good rule of thumb is that babies should wear one additional layer than what you'd be comfortable wearing in the same environment.
"Your baby should be in one more layer than you sleep in," says Nicole Cannon, owner of Sleepy Mama Sleep Consulting and a certified member of the Association of Professional Sleep Consultants.
One or two fitted layers works well in most situations, adds Lisa Ehl Lewis, MD , a pediatrician in Fort Worth, Texas. "Babies often sleep in a fitted onesie with sleep pants. If your home is cold, add an extra layer," she says. This extra layer can be a receiving blanket if swaddling, or a wearable sleep sack if the room is extra chilly.
Speaking of the temperature, are wondering how to set the thermostat? "The consensus among sleep experts is between 68-72 degrees" Fahrenheit, says Cannon.
SIDS Prevention Tips
To reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), you shouldn't put anything in a baby's crib until they're at least 1 year old, including blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals. Also avoid using any head covering on your baby while they're sleeping. Infants should always sleep on their backs alone on a flat sleep surface.
On warm nights, opt for lightweight, breathable sleep clothes for your baby. One acceptable option is a cotton bodysuit. You can also choose a cotton or muslin swaddle for newborns.
"When it's warm outside, I typically do long cotton pajamas and a 1.0 TOG sleep sack or 0.5 if it's really warm," says Cannon. TOG refers to the "thermal overall grade" of the garment or fabric; the higher the TOG, the warmer the fabric.
Also, despite the warm temperature, you want to avoid clothing that's super loose. This can increase the risk of SIDS, as loose clothes can cover your baby's nose and mouth, impacting their ability to breath.