Dr. Sarah Mitchell
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How to Dress Your Baby for Winter Sleep

As a parent, we are concerned about our child during the night, worried that our child is too hot or too cold.  In this post, you will learn how to dress your baby for better and comfortable sleep in winter

What Should Your Baby Wear to Bed in the Winter? 

Babies tend to run warmer than adults as their metabolism is working hard.  They are growing and so their metabolism is constantly at work.

Most of the books and articles that I read when my baby was going through this said that my baby should be in one more layer than me.

However, I find kids run hot and my baby was always more comfortable in one LESS later than me.

What Should Your Baby Wear Under a Sleepsack?

Your baby should wear a footed oneside under the sleep sack.  On very cold nights you might have an additional sweater under there.


baby sleeping in a winter dress
  • Your outer layer for babies out of the swaddle should be a sleep sack to keep her warm.
  • You can get thick warm ones for winter
  • Cotton and wool materials are the most breathable and comfortable
  • Fleece can be cozy but runs the risk of overheating
  • I just found these amazing wool sleep sacks by Woolino.
  • If you are still swaddling, you’ll want to consider how many layers the swaddle adds
  • Keep newborns in 100% cotton or wool
  • A footed onesie
    You could consider layering with a bodysuit under the onesie.
  • A flannel crib sheet is an easy way to add warmth and comfort.

General guideline, if you think of your bedding as comparable to your child’s sleep sack, aim to have your child in ONE LESS LAYER  than you or a layer that is cooler than yours.

What's the Best Room Setting for Baby's Winter Sleep? 

In general you want your room temperature to be between 69 and 72 degrees Farenheit. You might want to add a cold mist humidifier if the air is particularly dry. Dark and cool are the best sleeping conditions.

How Do I Know If My Baby is Too Hot? 

There are more risks to being too hot versus too cold.

If your child is too hot, she’ll be uncomfortable, and if she overheats, she’ll increase her risk of SIDS.  Other risks for SIDS include extra blankets in the crib, so you’ll want to avoid sheets until the toddler years.

If your child is too cold, she’ll be uncomfortable and possibly have trouble settling into sleep or wake up more frequently.

It’s about finding that temperature sweet spot that suits your child and her environment.

The most vulnerable population for temperature related issues are newborns between the ages of 0-3.  Newborns don’t have the ability to regulate their temperature until about 3 months.   If newborns become too cold, then they use much energy to try and cool themselves, which can be exhausting.  Consequently, if newborns overheat, this can also be dangerous.  

How Do I Know If My Baby is Too Cold? 

2 Ways to Assess If Your Child Is Too Hot Or Too Cold
  1. BEHAVIOR: Your child’s behavior will give you warning signs.  If your child is irritable or fussy, something is bugging her.
  2. TEST THE SKIN – HANDS, NOSE, BACK OF NECK, HAIRLINE: You can test your child’s temperature using a skin test.  Most kids will have cool hands in colder weather.  That’s okay as long as they aren’t frigid.  Correlate cold hands with her behavior. Cold hands and not fussy.   No problem!  Cold hands and fussy… further investigation required. Check her nose and the back of her neck.  Feeling the temperature of her skin on her nose and back of her neck will give you a better estimate of her body temperature compared to her hands. A cold nose can indicate the room temperature is too cold for her.  A warm back of her neck would indicate her body temperature is adequate. If your child’s hairline is sweaty, she’s likely running a little warm and you might check the room temperature or the number of layers she has on.

Warm/Cold Cheat Sheet:
Cold hands - not uncommon, not a sign her body is too cold.
Cold nose - a sign the room might be too cold.
Cold back of neck - definitely a sign she is too cold.

Want to remember all these tips and put them on your fridge?  Grab my How To Dress For Winter Sleep Cheat Sheet.

Come check out my video on this topic:

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