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Best Tips for How to Dress Your Baby for Sleep in the Winter

Wondering how to dress your baby for sleep in winter? Follow these tips to keep your baby warm even in the coldest months!

baby swaddled for winter

There’s a lot to obsess over when you’re a new parent! Sleep schedules, how much your baby is eating, and whether they’re hitting developmental milestones all come to mind.

With so many other things to think about, I never imagined that one of my biggest worries as a new parent would be whether my baby was sleeping at a comfortable temperature each night!

I honestly obsessed over the thermostat. Once I read that the ideal room temperature for my baby was between 68 and 72°, it was all I could think about while she slept.

As temperatures began to dip outside during her first winter, I realized that keeping the ideal temperature inside our house was going to be hard to do. There was no way we could run our heater on full blast all winter.

I needed to figure out a better way to control our daughter’s temperature at night. It turned out that the solution was how I dressed her for sleep.

Now I’ve done my research so that you don’t have to. If you’re wondering how to dress your baby for sleep in winter, let me share what I learned in the process!

baby girl sleeping in winter clothes

How Do I Keep My Baby Warm at Night in the Winter?

There’s lots to consider when you’re trying to figure out how to keep your baby warm at night.

The temperature of the room, the warmth of their clothing, and the number of layers they’re dressed in all play an important part in keep your baby’s temperature at a comfortable level.

Your first line of defense against chilly bedtimes is the thermostat. But if you’re having a hard time keeping your baby’s room a consistent temperature, there are other ways to keep your baby warm.

Sometimes it’s as simple as adding more layers or coverings for your baby. Footie pajamas, swaddles, and sleep sacks are a great way to add warmth.

Woolino sleep sacks are some of the best sleep sacks out there because they can be used all year long! Their sleep bag regulates your baby’s body temperature in all four seasons so you don’t have to worry if your baby is too hot or too cold!

They also come with a seat belt slot so you can put your baby in their sleep sack and still safely buckle them up in their car seat. It’s perfect for those chilly winter nights when you’re out late with your baby!

It’s important to keep your baby warm enough while they sleep in the winter, but you also need to make sure you do it safely!

The ABCs of safe sleep are safe sleep guidelines by the American Academy of Pediatrics and a great way to help you remember what is and isn’t safe when you are putting your little one to sleep.

A good rule of thumb to remember is that a boring crib is a safe crib.

If your baby is younger than 12 months, you shouldn’t use bedding (like blankets or sheets) to add warmth. Instead, you’ll need to adjust how you dress your baby for sleep.

baby in footed pajamas

What Should My Baby Wear to Bed in Winter?

So how should you dress your baby to sleep during the winter? The answer to that question will depend on their age and how cold the temperature is in your house.

Winter can feel really different for families depending on the climate they’re living in. But even in our mild Californian winters, it’s not always possible to keep the thermostat at the ideal temperature. I imagine in places like the Midwest, it’s even harder!

What your newborn wears to sleep will differ greatly from how to dress a toddler for sleep in the winter. Toddlers are old enough to regulate their own body temperatures, and you can also use bedding to make them warmer.

Luckily, it’s much easier to help your baby adapt to a cooler climate with proper clothing or coverings than it is to get them comfortable when they’re overheated.

baby swaddled for winter

What Should a Newborn Wear to Sleep in the Winter?

Newborns aren’t able to stabilize their own body temperatures yet. Younger babies need our help to keep their bodies warm, but we also need to be careful not to overheat them.

Overheating has been linked to a greater risk of SIDS – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in infants and newborns.

In the wintertime, your newborn will probably be comfortable sleeping in footed pajamas and a breathable swaddle or sleep sack. You can also pair a long sleeve onesie with a warm micro-fleece swaddle.

Woolino swaddles are made of merino wool, which creates a microclimate around your baby’s body to naturally regulate their body temperature. These swaddles and sleep bags are made of breathable fabrics that keep baby warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot.

If your baby still seems too cold wearing a couple of layers, try adding a short sleeve onesie underneath their pajamas for an extra layer.

How Do I Know if My Baby is Too Cold in the Winter?

If you’re not sure whether your baby is too cold, there’s an easy test. Touch your baby’s skin and see how it feels!

Your baby’s arms and legs will naturally run a little cooler to the touch than the rest of their body. Their core body temperature is easiest to test by touching their belly or the back of their neck.

When you use the touch test, your baby should feel slightly warm but not sweaty or clammy. If your baby doesn’t feel very warm at all, that’s your signal to add a layer or two.

Woolino sleeping bag in baby's crib

How Many Layers Should a Baby Wear at Night in the Winter?

Adding a layer or two to your baby’s sleepwear is an easy fix if they are too cold.

If you’re still not sure how to dress your baby for sleep in winter—or how many layers they should wear—think about what you’ll be wearing to bed.

Make sure that you dress your baby in layers and lengths appropriate for the season, just like you dress yourself.

When a baby is younger than 18 months, I use the “plus one” method for dressing them to sleep in the winter. This means you dress your baby similarly to how you’re dressing yourself for bed, and then add one additional layer.

Remember: if your baby isn’t old enough to have loose blankets in their crib, you can use a swaddle or a wearable blanket as a blanket substitute.

Learn more about when your baby can sleep with a blanket!

baby dressed in footed pajamas brushing teeth

How to Dress Your Baby for Sleep Without a Sleep Sack

I understand that some babies hate the swaddle, or don’t tolerate the sleep sack well. If that’s the case, you might be wondering how to dress your baby for sleep without a sleep sack.

Many parents don’t realize that when it comes to warmth, not all baby clothing is created equal.

Did you know that baby clothes have something called a TOG rating? TOG stands for thermal overall grade and is a standardized method of measuring how warm a piece of clothing is.

When you’re dressing your baby to sleep in winter, pay close attention to their pajama’s TOG rating. The higher the rating, the more insulation and warmth the garment provides to your baby.

You can’t always determine how warm clothing will be for your baby based on how it looks or how thick it feels. TOG ratings and warmth are largely determined by the type of fabric used, and how breathable it is.

If your baby doesn’t like to sleep with a sleep sack, just make sure during the winter that you’re dressing them in clothing with a higher TOG rating at bedtime.

Once you master the art of layering, your little bundle will be able to sleep safe all winter long! I hope this gave you some tips to comfortably dress your baby for sleep this winter!

Wondering how to dress your baby in the summer as well? I’ve got you covered for that too!

Amy Motroni