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How to dress your baby for sleep during cold weather

Learn these tips so you can also have a restful night's sleep

baby girl sleeping on bed
Katie Daly
Lifestyle Writer
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Knowing how to properly dress your baby for sleep can be a cause of anxiety for many parents. In summer it's all about checking your baby doesn't overheat, but ensuring your baby is properly dressed in winter for sleep is also important as it is all about striking the balance between keeping your baby warm and keeping them safe from any smother hazards. 

It can be tempting to wrap up your baby warmly in lots of blankets during the colder months. However, studies have shown that overheating a baby can lead to sudden infant death syndrome or cot death. Since research shows that babies are best to be cool rather than hot, opt for a fit-for-purpose sleepsuit or sleeping bag with an appropriate tog for winter. If you feel like your baby isn't warm enough as they are, layers can be added in the form of another piece of clothing, rather than an extra blanket. 

baby lies on its back and sleeps © Getty
Learn these tips for dressing your baby for safe winter sleep

Kate Holmes, Head of Support and Information at The Lullaby Trust, previously told HELLO! that "to reduce the chance of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) the ideal temperature of a baby's room should be 16-20°C", adding that "baby sleeping bags advise what tog to use for each season or temperature, so that can be handy to use as a guide." A sleep sack with a TOG of around 2.5 is a great option as the baby is warm and contained but not bundled up in thick fabric.

Mother holding sleeping son© Getty
Resist the urge to cover your baby in loads of layers

Babies aren't always very good at regulating their own temperature so being aware of a few telltale signs that your little one is starting to overheat can be just as useful in winter as it is in summer. The NHS states that "if your baby is sweating or their tummy feels hot to the touch, take off some of their clothing or bedding. Don't worry if your baby's hands or feet feel cool. This is normal." You can also check a baby's temperature by touching their nose and the back of their neck. A cold nose can be a sign that the baby isn't warm enough, a cold back of the neck indicates that your little one is definitely not in a warm enough environment. The NHS site also reminds us that a folded blanket counts as two blankets. 

Boy sleeping in crib© Getty
Keep an eye on the temperature of the nursery

Choosing certain materials to dress your baby is also important when striking that balance between overheating and being too cool. Sleep Consultant Dr Sarah Mitchell says on her website dedicated to helping babies sleep that wool and cotton are the most breathable fabrics whereas fleece can easily lead to overheating. The same goes for your baby's bedding. Using a cotton fitted base sheet is the best option in terms of safety and comfort. Dressing them appropriately also has to align with how warm you are keeping their nursery. Rachel Mitchell, a certified pediatric sleep consultant and founder of My Sweet Sleeper, told The Bump that the ideal temperature for a baby's room is between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Close up of baby sleeping on bed© Getty
Keep an eye on your baby's skin temperature

Mother & Baby offers a fantastic comprehensive guide for dressing your baby according to the weather. It can be difficult to decide how to dress them as you start to go into winter where one night might not be as cold as the next.

How to dress your sleeping baby according to the weather

  • Under 16 degrees: 2.5 Tog Sleeping Bag + Sleepsuit + Vest
  • 17°c- 20°c: 2.5 Tog Sleeping Bag + Sleepsuit
  • 20°c- 22°c: 1 Tog Sleeping Bag + Sleepsuit
  • 22°c- 24°c: Sleepsuit
  • 24°c- 27°c: Vest +/- 0.5 Tog Sleeping Bag
  • Over 27°c: Nappy

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