One of the most common questions that new parents have is how to dress their newborn for sleep. You want your baby to be comfortable, cozy, and safe, but you also don't want to overheat them or restrict their movement.
How do you find the right balance between too hot and too cold, too loose and too tight, too many layers and not enough?
In this blog post, we will share some pro tips and tricks for dressing your newborn for a good night's sleep, based on the latest research and expert advice.
We will cover the basics of choosing the right fabric, size, and style of sleepwear, as well as how to adjust for different seasons, temperatures, and preferences.
We will also answer some frequently asked questions about swaddling, sleep sacks, onesies, pajamas, and more. Let's get started!
Understanding the Importance of Proper Dressing for Newborn's Sleep
Sleep is critical for a newborn's growth and development. The way you dress your baby can have a significant impact on their sleep quality.
Comfortable, appropriately sized, and accurately layered clothes can enhance your baby's sleep by helping maintain optimal body temperature and reducing disturbances.
In contrast, uncomfortable clothing can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to a cranky, overtired baby.
Understanding Newborn Sleep Patterns
Newborns typically cycle between two stages of sleep: Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and non-REM sleep.
- REM Sleep - Is a lighter stage where dreams occur, and babies may move a bit. It is a stage of sleep characterized by rapid eye movement (REM). During this stage, the brain is more active than during non-REM stages of sleep. This is when most dreaming occurs, and it is believed to be important for memory consolidation and emotional regulation. Babies may move their arms and legs or even cry out during REM sleep, but they usually remain asleep.
- Non-REM Sleep - Is a deeper, more restful stage. It is composed of four stages. During the first three stages, body temperature and heart rate decrease while breathing becomes slower and more regular. Muscles become relaxed and movements slow down. In stage four, the deepest level of Non-REM sleep, breathing and heart rate are at their lowest levels. This is when the body repairs and restores itself.
Understanding these stages can help you gauge whether your baby's outfit is appropriate for their sleep state.
Factors Affecting Sleep
Several factors influence how well a newborn sleep. These include:
- Feeding schedules
- Diaper changes
- Room temperature
- Noise levels
- And of course, their clothing
Uncomfortable, too tight, or too loose clothes can lead to sleep interruptions. Similarly, if the clothes are too warm or too cool for the room temperature, it can cause discomfort leading to frequent awakenings.
Importance of Dressing Appropriately for Sleep
Clothing plays a major role in regulating your baby's body temperature during sleep. If a baby is too hot or too cold, they are likely to wake up. Also, restrictive clothes might limit movement, causing discomfort.
On the other hand, loose clothing might pose a safety risk. Thus, choosing the right clothes can make a world of difference in your baby's sleep quality.
The Basics of Choosing a Sleepwear
When it comes to dressing your newborn for sleep, there are 3 main factors to consider:
- Fabric: The best fabric for your newborn's sleepwear is one that is breathable, soft, and natural. Cotton and muslin are ideal choices, as they allow air to circulate and prevent overheating. Synthetic fabrics like polyester or fleece can trap heat and moisture, which can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or skin irritation. Avoid fabrics that are rough, scratchy, or have embellishments like buttons, zippers, snaps, or appliques that can irritate your baby's skin or pose a choking hazard.
- Fit: The best fit for your newborn's sleepwear is one that is snug but not tight. You want your baby to have enough room to move their arms and legs freely, but not so much that they can get tangled or slip out of their clothes. A good rule of thumb is to check if you can fit two fingers between your baby's chest and their sleepwear. If you can't, it's too tight; if you can fit more than two fingers, it's too loose. You also want to make sure that the sleepwear covers your baby's feet and hands (unless they are wearing mittens or socks), as these are the areas where they lose most of their body heat.
- Function: The best function for your newborn's sleepwear is one that is easy to put on and take off, especially for diaper changes. You want to avoid sleepwear that has complicated closures like buttons or snaps that can take a long time to fasten or unfasten. Instead, opt for sleepwear that has zippers or Velcro that can be opened and closed quickly and quietly. You also want to avoid sleepwear that has hoods, collars, drawstrings, or cords that can cover your baby's face or neck and interfere with their breathing.
How to Dress Your Baby for Sleep in Different Seasons
Depending on the season and the temperature of your baby's room, you may need to adjust the number and type of layers that you dress your newborn in for sleep.
A general rule of thumb is to dress your baby in one more layer than you would wear yourself at night.
This is because babies have a harder time regulating their body temperature than adults do, and they can't use blankets or sheets to cover themselves.
However, this rule is not absolute, and you should always check your baby's comfort level by feeling their chest or back (not their hands or feet) to see if they are too hot or too cold.
If they are sweating or have flushed cheeks, they are too hot; if they are shivering or have pale skin, they are too cold. Here are some examples of how to dress your newborn for sleep in different seasons:
In the summer months, when the temperature is above 75°F (24°C), you may only need to dress your newborn in a onesie or a light cotton romper.
An onesie is a little undershirt that has snaps on the bottom to make diaper changes easier. A romper is a one-piece outfit that covers the torso and legs.
You may also want to use a thin muslin swaddle or a lightweight sleep sack over the onesie or romper if your baby likes to be wrapped up.
You will love Carriage Boutique's smocked baby rompers, which are suitable for boys and girls of all ages. We know that you want your baby to look cute and feel cozy in their romper. That's why we have carefully designed and crafted our romper with the best materials and features. Get yours today! Baby Rompers (3M-4Y) – Carriage Boutique
A swaddle is a technique of wrapping your baby snugly in a blanket to make them feel secure.
A sleep sack or swaddle bag is a wearable blanket that has armholes and a zipper. Both options prevent your baby from kicking off their covers or getting tangled in loose blankets. Buy Carriage Boutique swaddle bag today!
In the winter months, when the temperature is below 68°F (20°C), you may need to dress your newborn in a long-sleeve onesie or a footed pajama, plus a warm sleep sack or a fleece swaddle.
A footed pajama is a one-piece outfit that covers the torso, legs, and feet. A fleece swaddle is a thicker version of a muslin swaddle that provides more warmth.
You may also want to add a hat, mittens, or socks to your baby's outfit if their room is very cold or drafty, but make sure to remove them once they are warm enough or if they start to sweat.
In the spring and fall months, when the temperature is between 68°F and 75°F (20°C and 24°C), you may need to dress your newborn in a short-sleeve onesie or a sleep-n-play, plus a cotton swaddle or a medium-weight sleep sack.
A sleep-n-play is a one-piece outfit that covers the torso and legs, but not the feet. A cotton swaddle is a lighter version of a fleece swaddle that provides less warmth.
A medium-weight sleep sack is a wearable blanket that has more insulation than a lightweight sleep sack, but less than a warm sleep sack.
What are Some Common Mistakes to Avoid When Dressing Your Newborn Baby?
Some common mistakes to avoid when dressing your newborn are:
- Dressing them in too many layers or too thick fabrics, which can cause overheating and increase the risk of SIDS. A general rule of thumb is to dress your baby in one more layer than you would wear yourself at night.
- Forgetting to put mittens on your baby's hands, especially in cold weather or when they have long nails that can scratch their face. Mittens can also protect your baby from choking hazards like jewelry or teething necklaces.
- Putting coats or thick blankets on your baby in the car seat, which can make the straps too loose and compromise their safety in case of an accident. It's better to use a thin blanket over the straps or a fleece cover that fits over the car seat.
- Pulling the onesie over your baby's head when changing their diaper, which can spread the mess and irritate their skin. Instead, use the shoulder tabs to pull the onesie down and off.
- Using pajamas that have buttons, snaps, zippers, or appliques on the top, which can be uncomfortable or dangerous for your baby. Opt for sleepwear that has zippers or Velcro on the bottom or the side.
- Covering the pram with muslin or blanket when it's sunny, which can trap heat and make your baby too hot. Use a clip-on parasol or sunshade instead and keep your baby out of direct sunlight as much as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions about Sleep for a Newborn
Let's dive into this guide and find answers to the frequently asked questions about newborn sleep, ensuring that both you and your little one can enjoy a peaceful and well-rested journey together.
Is It Normal for A Newborn to Sleep All Day?
Yes, it is normal for a newborn to sleep a lot, about 14 to 18 hours a day. Newborns have small stomachs and need to eat frequently, so they usually wake up only for feeding and then fall asleep again. However, if your newborn sleeps more than 22 hours a day or shows signs of being too hot, too cold, or not eating enough, you should consult your doctor.
How To Swaddle A Newborn For Sleep?
Swaddling is a technique of wrapping your baby snugly in a blanket to make them feel secure and calm. It can also help them sleep longer and reduce the risk of SIDS by preventing them from rolling over or covering their face with loose bedding.
Visit our guide Baby Swaddle: How to & When to Stop Swaddling Your Baby for more information on how to swaddle your baby properly.
Dressing your newborn for sleep involves understanding their sleep patterns, choosing the right clothing materials, considering room temperature, and layering clothes appropriately. Avoiding clothing with hard fastenings and frequently checking your baby's temperature can also enhance their comfort during sleep.
Remember, every baby is unique and what works for one might not work for another. It might take some trial and error to figure out what suits your baby best. Be patient with yourself and your little one. You're doing great!