How to Dress Baby for Sleep – 8 Guidelines to Follow

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Bringing a baby home is an exciting time; however, there are inevitable questions to ask as well as tricks to learn. One of these is knowing how to dress your little one for sleep, and being that infants are tiny, it's difficult to feel confident about what's appropriate.

Naturally, you don't want them to be too hot or too cold, and knowing just the right temperature or amount of layers can be tough. That's why we've broken it down here to help make your transition as smooth as possible and allow you to feel prepared and ready for baby's bedtime.

Dressing Babies for Sleep Basic Guidelines

There are a few basic guidelines to follow when dressing a baby. A few key tips to keep in mind are things like putting one more layer on them than you would yourself or keeping the room temperature comfortable. Below we'll go over what all these entail.

What is an Ideal Room Temperature

Knowing the right temperature for your infant can be tough; they're much smaller than adults, and we want to be sure they're cozy and warm. However, keeping a room too warm can increase the risk of SIDS as well. So how hot is too hot, and how cold is too cold?

There really isn’t some “perfect” temperature to keep your room at, but some experts recommend somewhere between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. If your baby is preterm, it's a good idea to keep the temperature on the warmer end of this spectrum, as preterm infants aren't able to regulate their temperatures as efficiently. Keep in mind that this is just an average; every baby is different and may be comfortable at a colder or warmer temp. A good rule of thumb is to check their chest. If they are warm but not hot, you’re good to go.

Get More Info: The Ideal Room Temperature for a Baby

Checking on Infant's Temperature

When checking on your tot's temperature, you'll want them to be between 98 to 100.3 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything that's above 100.4 is technically considered to be a fever. You can feel if they're running hot by gently pressing the back of your hand to their tummies if you're concerned.

Underarm and oral readings for an infant are typically about a full degree cooler than their actual temperature, so it's best to obtain an accurate reading rectally so you can properly ensure your reading is accurate.

Animation of Mother Checking Her Sleeping Baby Mobile Gif

Should Newborns Sleep Under a Blanket

While you want your child to be warm and cozy, it's wise to use a swaddle only. If you choose to use a blanket to swaddle them, it's critical to ensure the ends are snuggly tucked. The reason for this is so that your infant doesn't choke or get twisted up in loose bedding as a result.

Learn More: Sleep Sack or Swaddle Blanket

Swaddled Baby Sleeping Peacefully Illustration

Baby Sleepwear Chart Based on the Room Temperature

Knowing the appropriate temperature for your child can feel tricky, which is why we've drawn up a chart for easy reference. Have a look below when you're concerned about sleepwear and room temperature so your tyke can be dressed appropriately.

baby bedtime clothes chart starting from under 60 degrees to 80 plus degrees (in a room)

Baby Sleeping Clothes Tips

Naturally, as a parent, you don't want your tot running too hot or too cold, but figuring out how to make them feel comfortable in their new home isn't easy. We'll detail how to make sure they're ready for anything.

Telling Summer From Winter Clothing (TOG)

“TOG” stands for Thermal Overall Grade, and it lets the user know about how many blankets a sleep sack is equivalent to. Knowing how warm or cool a sleep sack is will be crucial when dressing your little one so they're comfortable.

Don't Use Hats and Beanies as Part of Sleeping Outfit

While pulling a warm hat over your child's noggin sounds like a wise idea if it's the chilly months of winter, using a hat or a beanie could actually be harmful for your baby. They can overheat more easily, and If it falls off them in the middle of the night it can become a hazard.

Swaddling Your Baby for Sleep

Swaddling may sound like a nicer version of a straight jacket for infants, but for them, the sensation of being wrapped up like a burrito is comforting. Your little one has been snuggled up inside a warm belly for nine months without much wiggle room, so being held tightly mimics the sensation of being held securely.

The feeling of being bundled up helps your newborn to relax and feel secure in their surroundings, and it can help minimize the effects of the Moro reflex, when their little arms suddenly jerk up while asleep. This should help them snooze more soundly.

How To Swaddle Baby Step-by-Step

Using Sleeping Bags

Sleep sacks are a great alternative to swaddling once your child has learned to become mobile. If your little one has reached the point where they can now roll over and is not suffering from the Moro reflex any longer, they can transition to a sleep sack. These sleep sacks allow you to bundle up your baby safely and prepare them to sleep with a blanket without making a big jump all at once.

They can still feel safe and secure in their sack but with their arms free. The sack also should stay securely wrapped around their body in a way that won't shift so they don't get tied up in a compromising position as they could in a loose blanket.

Safety Tips

Knowing how to discern what's best for your infant with the endless amounts of information and advice out there can be challenging. Fortunately, there are many resources to help in your parenthood journey. However, when thinking about how to keep your tyke safe while sleeping, keep it simple.

You don't want to have too many unnecessary objects or sleep aids in the crib, as these can serve as choking hazards—loose blankets are a no-no. It's important to swaddle your tot to keep them secure and safe.

Additionally, keep toys out of the crib during the night. Not only do you want to teach them to fall asleep unaided if possible but they could suffocate or choke on something in the night as they sleep. It's wise to keep their crib limited to necessities only.

Want to know more? Check out our safe sleep practices for babies here.

baby sleeping in a crib during naptime


What should a baby wear in bed when having a fever?

You may be inclined to bundle your tot up if they have a fever and the chills; however, this could make their fever worse. It's best to dress them in lightweight, breathable clothing. Cotton is great, and a light blanket or swaddle is suggested.

If they have a high fever, it's always wise to exercise caution and consult a pediatrician if and when necessary. But if it's not terribly high, most children will begin to feel better even after it drops only one degree.

When to dress babies in fleece pajamas?

We don't recommend dressing your baby in fleece unless it's extremely cold. You will probably swaddle while your baby is still young, and fleece pajamas under a swaddle could be a lot of heat for a little one.

Excess heat can increase the risk of SIDS, and it's wise to err on the side of caution. If you're not sure if your babe is too warm or cold, you can feel the nape of their neck if it's sweaty or their tummy or chest if it feels too warm. Also, their cheeks might be flushed if they're feeling a bit toasty as well.


Knowing how to dress your munchkin for sleep, when to adjust their layers, how many to put on, when to take them off, what type of material to buy—it can feel overwhelming for any caregiver. Sorting out the details can be tricky, but you're not alone.

Keep in mind what we've covered in this article, and you'll be good to go. Maintaining a comfortable room, dressing them appropriately for the season, and swaddling using the correct techniques are all ways to assure that your little snoozer will be sleeping like a baby in no time.

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Jill Zwarensteyn is the editor for Sleep Advisor and a certified sleep science coach. She is enthusiastic about providing helpful and engaging information on all things sleep and wellness.

Based in Los Angeles, she is an experienced writer and journalist who enjoys spending her free time at the beach, hiking, reading, or exploring new places around town.

She’s also an avid traveler who has a personal goal of being able to successfully sleep on an airplane someday.

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