By Raising Children Network
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Mum putting bedtime clothes on baby credit
To sleep well and safely, babies need to be not too hot and not too cold. Our tips for dressing baby for bed help you get your baby’s temperature ‘just right’.

Dressing baby for bed: the basics

Choosing the right clothes
Dress your baby in enough warm clothes to keep her warm without blankets. Once she can roll over, she can get out from under them and get cold. If you dress your baby in layers of fitted clothing, you can add or take away layers as the temperature changes.

When you’re dressing baby for bed, a handy tip is to think about what you’d wear to bed and use that as a guide.

Hats and bonnets
Babies can overheat quickly if they wear hats or bonnets to bed. In fact, heat escapes through their heads and faces, so babies can only cool themselves down if their heads are uncovered. Keep your baby’s head uncovered in bed to make sure he stays around the right temperature. Also note that headwear in bed can be a choking hazard.

Take off your baby’s hat or bonnet when you go indoors or into any closed or warm space, such as a car, so she won’t get too hot.

Baby’s temperature
Your baby’s hands and feet might feel cool, but this isn’t a good indication of his temperature. Find out how hot your baby really is by feeling his back or tummy. 

If you use a baby carrier or sling, keep in mind that your baby will be warmed by your body heat as well as by her clothes and wraps.

Room temperature
If your baby’s room is too warm, you could use a plug-in floor fan to keep the room at a comfortable temperature. As an added bonus, the background whirring sound a fan makes might help block out sudden noises that could wake him.

Getting too hot has been linked with sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI including SIDS and fatal sleeping accidents). Your baby should be comfortably warm – not hot, sweaty or cold.

Baby wrapping

Wrapping helps your baby settle for sleep, as well as stay in the safe sleeping position on her back.

If you choose to wrap your baby, it’s best to use lightweight cotton or muslin wraps. Make sure the wrap doesn’t cover your baby’s head, ears or chin – wraps that are too high can obstruct your baby’s breathing and cause him to overheat.

Also check that there’s enough room for him to stretch his legs and that the wrap is not too tight around his chest and hips. Wrapping a baby’s legs and chest too tightly can lead to hip and breathing problems.

Babies can be wrapped from birth until they can roll onto their tummies, usually around 4-6 months.

Video Wrapping a newborn

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This short video demonstrates different ways to wrap or swaddle a newborn baby. Wrapping is soothing for some babies and can reduce the risk of SUDI (including SIDS and fatal sleeping accidents) by keeping babies on their backs during sleep.

Baby sleeping bags

A safe infant sleeping bag can be a good option for dressing baby for bed.

A correctly sized sleeping bag is the best way to keep your baby’s head and face uncovered, and helps reduce the risk of SUDI (including SIDS and fatal sleeping accidents). It can also help prevent your baby from rolling onto her tummy during sleep, and contain her legs so they don’t hang out through the cot’s rails.

If your baby needs extra warmth, dress him in layers of clothing within the sleeping bag, but keep this appropriate to the temperature of the room.

Check that it’s impossible for your baby to slip down into the bag and become completely covered. Red Nose (formerly SIDS and Kids) recommends that you use a sleeping bag that has a fitted neck and armholes but no hood.

  • Last updated or reviewed 11-01-2017
  • Acknowledgements Raising Children Network thanks SIDS and Kids Australia for its helpful comments on earlier drafts of this article.