Dressing babies for bed: the basics
Dress in layers
Dress your baby in layers of fitted clothing rather than just thick pyjamas. You can add or take away layers as the temperature changes.
No hats and beanies in bed
Babies cool themselves down by releasing heat from their heads and faces.
Babies can quickly overheat if they fall asleep wearing hats or beanies. So it’s important to keep your baby’s head uncovered during sleep. Headwear in bed can also be a choking or suffocation hazard.
Your baby’s hands and feet might feel cool, but this isn’t a good indication of temperature. You can find out how hot your baby really is by feeling baby’s back or tummy.
It’s best to adjust your baby’s clothing rather than heating or cooling the room. But if you need to adjust the temperature of the room where your baby sleeps, use a heater or fan only when your baby isn’t in the room. Turn off the appliance before putting your baby in the room.
Never use electric blankets or hot water bottles to warm your baby during colder weather.
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.
Wrapping helps babies settle for sleep, as well as stay in a safe sleeping position on their backs.
If you choose to wrap your baby, use lightweight cotton or muslin wraps.
Make sure the wrap doesn’t go above your baby’s shoulders or cover baby’s head, ears or chin. Wraps that are too high can obstruct your baby’s breathing and cause overheating.
Also check that there’s enough room for your baby to stretch their legs and that the wrap isn’t too tight around baby’s chest and hips. Wrapping a baby’s legs and chest too tightly can lead to hip and breathing problems.
Underneath the wrap, put your baby in a nappy and singlet in warmer weather. You can add a lightweight growsuit in cooler weather.
Babies can be wrapped from birth until they start showing signs that they can roll onto their tummies, usually around 4 months.
Baby sleeping bags
A safe infant sleeping bag can be a good option for dressing your baby for bed. A correctly sized sleeping bag is the best way to keep your baby’s head and face uncovered.
A safe infant sleeping bag also helps to:
- reduce the risk of SUDI including SIDS and fatal sleeping accidents
- stop your baby from rolling onto their tummy during sleep
- contain your baby’s legs so they don’t hang out through the cot’s rails.
Check that it’s impossible for your baby to slip down into the bag and become completely covered. Red Nose recommends that you use a sleeping bag that has a fitted neck and armholes but no hood.
Some sleeping bags have a TOG (thermal overall grade) rating. This can help you decide which sleeping bag to use in different temperatures. But note that a TOG rating is just a guide. It isn’t a safety standard.
The rating or instructions that come with the bag can also help you work out what clothes to put on your baby underneath the bag. But these instructions are only a guide too, and you should always consider the temperature of the room where your baby sleeps.
If your baby uses blankets for bed, it’s a good idea to dress baby in enough clothes for warmth with a thin lightweight blanket. This way, if your baby wiggles out from under the blanket during the night, baby won’t be cold.