There are many questions (many) questions parents ask themselves in the first weeks and months of their child’s lives. One important question that comes up quite often is what should baby wear to sleep? You don’t want them in clothes that are too warm, and you don’t want them cold. Then factor in the seasons and varying room temperatures…?! So what’s the right answer?

adorable baby on soft rug lying next to mom with crib behind them

Photo Credit: The Honest Company

Safety (Room Temperature)

As with most things related to baby, your primary concern should be safety. Before we discuss what your child should wear to sleep, let’s start by addressing temperature. This can be a frustrating topic because it’s highly subjective. 68-72 degrees is an ideal range. But you should begin by making sure you feel comfortable in the nursery wearing just a long-sleeved t-shirt. So the room should be cool enough you need a long-sleeved shirt. Not so warm you’d want to wear a short-sleeved t-shirt, but never so cold you feel you’d need a sweatshirt.

If you’re on the fence as to what number to set the thermostat, I’d aim for cooler rather than warmer. Babies can overheat easily, and that is far more dangerous for a baby than being a touch too cold. (This is because babies cannot reliably cool themselves by sweating as older children and adults can.) Keep in mind many babies have cold hands and feet. This doesn’t mean their environment is too cool. Confirm with your pediatrician that cold hands and feet are not an indicator of your baby being too cold in their bedroom.

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Winter (and Warmth!)

I find families are far more worried about their child being too cold rather than too warm. As stated above, ideally the room would be kept erring on the side of slightly cooler than room temperature year round. If you fear your child is going too cold (perhaps because they are in a room that is challenging to keep at a stable temperature), I’d aim for a long-sleeved footed sleeper for overnight sleep. For naps? A long-sleeved top and pants will do.

A sleeveless sleep sack is always okay. Just make sure that you are thoughtful about the thickness of the fabric. Once again, ensure your child is never at risk of overheating.

Spring and Summer

If you find yourself in a situation in which you are unable to keep the room cool, make sure you dress your child accordingly. In especially warm weather, a plain onesie or even just a diaper are fine for baby to sleep in.

When my first child was less than a year old, we visited my in-laws during a horrible heat wave. They had not yet installed air conditioning and it was terribly hot in my daughter’s bedroom. My brilliant husband set a giant metal bowl full of ice in front of a box fan on full blast. He aimed the whole set up at the crib (a few feet away, so she could not reach it from the crib). Desperate times call for desperate measures! We were successful in keeping her cool and the heat wave passed in just a few days.

Hot or cold, baby has lots of options on what to wear (or not wear!) for sleep. Just remember, trust your gut and what feels good to you, which is probably what will feel best for baby! Now snuggle up and get some zzz’s!

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