Helping Babies Sleep

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.  How does one dress a child for winter sleep and what are the risks?

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 To Access 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. IDEAL ROOM TEMPERATURE
    You want your ideal room temperature to be 68 F or 20 C.
  3. 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.

    LAYERS ARE YOUR FRIEND
  • 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, but one can’t deny the warmth of fleece in the winter 
    • If you are still swaddling, you’ll want to consider how many layers the swaddle adds
    • Keep newborns in 100% cotton
  • 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 more layer than you or a layer that is warmer than yours.

 

You will worry you’re not doing something right, but the truth is that your instincts about what to dress your child in will kick in, and you’ll adapt well to this change in weather and apparel.

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