What to dress and sleep baby in for winter

Knowing what to dress and sleep baby in for winter can sometimes be tricky—after all, they can’t exactly tell you if they’re too warm, too cold, or just right. For newborns especially, it’s important that we get this right as they can’t regulate their temperature until they’re about 3 months old. Overdressing could potentially lead to overheating, increasing the risk of SIDS. Or, if your baby is too cold, they’ll be uncomfortable and possibly have trouble settling into sleep, or waking more frequently.

It’s about finding that temperature sweet spot that suits your baby and their environment. In cold weather, it’s a good idea to dress your baby in layers, so that you can remove them depending on the room temperature, or add them when you head outdoors.

How to dress you baby for winter

How do you know if your baby is comfortably warm, and not hot or cold?

A good way to check is to feel your baby’s chest, back or tummy, and they should feel warm. Don’t worry if their hands and feet are cold, it’s perfectly normal, and not a good indication of their temperature.

How do I dress my baby for sleep in cold weather?

Babies sleep well and safely when they’re neither too hot or too cold, and ideally we want to dress babies in the right amount of layers to keep them warm without the need for blankets. So, what does that look like?

How to dress you baby for winter

  • Dress your baby in layers of fitted clothing, such as a singlet and growsuit, rather than pyjamas.
  • No hats or beanies in bed. Babies can quickly overheat if they fall asleep with headwear, which can also be a choking or suffocation hazard.
  • Monitor the room temperature that your baby sleeps in. The SIDS Foundation – Red Nose does not recommend a specific room temperature for baby’s sleep. Due to their being no evidence to show that maintaining a specific room temperature prevents sudden infant death. As long as baby is put down to sleep on their back, and baby is dressed appropriately for the room temperature – not overdressed or under dressed – with their head and face uncovered, you can feel reassured that you are protecting baby from overheating.
  • Never use electric blankets or hot water bottles to warm your baby’s bed. 
  • Use lightweight cotton or muslin wraps if you choose to wrap/swaddle your baby (which you can do from birth until they start rolling, which is usually around 4 months of age). Make sure that the wrap doesn’t go above your baby’s shoulders, and isn’t too tight.
  • A safe infant sleeping bag (with armholes or sleeves, and no hood) can be a good option for dressing your baby for bed. A correctly sized sleeping bag (make sure they can’t slip down into the bag) is the best way to keep your baby’s head and face uncovered. Check the TOG rating of the sleeping bag, which can be used as a guide to help you decide which one to use in different temperatures.
  • Add layers of clothing within the sleeping bag if your baby needs extra warmth.
  • If you’re using blankets, it’s a good idea to dress your baby in enough clothes for warmth with just a thin lightweight blanket. This way if your baby kicks off or wriggles out from under it, they won’t be cold.

Purebaby Swaddling Image

How do I dress my baby for the outdoors in cold weather?

Baby, it’s cold outside! Even in winter, both babies and parents need to regularly get outside for fresh air—unless of course it’s dangerously cold. Getting outdoors helps babies to acclimatise to the seasons and the day-night cycle. It also often calms an unsettled baby, and can be amazing for your own mental health. But, what should your baby wear?

How to dress you baby for winter

  • Dress your baby in layers. As a general guide, dress them in the same number of layers you’re wearing plus an extra thin cotton layer. Choose breathable fabrics, and clothing that can be easily taken off and put on as needed, such as a quilted growsuit. You’ll also want layers that you can still easily access their nappy, so that you don’t have to fully undress them at change time.
  • Take their coat off in the car. Coats are unsafe because usually the seat straps need to be loosened to accommodate for the extra material. This increases the chance of injury if there’s an accident. You could always add a blanket over the top of their straps until the car warms up, and then remove it to reduce overheating.
  • Keep your baby pleasantly warmly in a coat, a hat or beanie to cover their ears, mittens, and booties. Use a blanket in the pram tucked up around your baby to chest level, rather than covering the pram with a blanket, which could compromise airflow.
  • Check your baby often for signs of discomfort. Feel their back, chest, or tummy to check that they’re not too hot or too cold. Also, their mood might be a good indicator of their comfort level.
  • Wear your baby for warmth. Carriers are a great way to use your body heat to provide extra cosiness, but then your baby probably won’t need an extra jumper, for instance. Just keep their feet and head warm, and make sure that their face isn’t pressed against your coat or scarf.
  • Remove layers when you head back indoors. Whether you’re just popping into a cafe, doing some grocery shopping, or you’ve arrived home with a sleeping baby, it’s important to remove layers accordingly.

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