Helping our babies stay a comfortable temperature throughout the night is so important. It makes it easier for them to stay cozy and asleep for longer stretches. Learn how to keep your baby warm at night, while keeping them safe for sleep.
As a new mom I became absolutely obsessed with our thermostat and how to dress my baby for sleep at night.
I really wasn’t sure how to dress my newborn in the summer!
When you think of newborns, one of the first words that comes to mind is “bundle.”
I thought we were supposed to bundle babies up to keep them warm, but that seemed so inappropriate for our very hot Northern California summers.
Things I read online said the ideal room temperature for a baby was between 68 and 72°, but there was no way we could get our AC to go that low in our hundred-degree heat!
I knew about the abcs of safe sleep and knew nothing was supposed to go in my baby’s crib, including warm blankets.
I would wake up in the middle of the night cold and worry that my baby was cold. If I woke up warm, I worried that she was too warm.
I would frantically check the thermostat in the middle of the night and change it one or two degrees, lighting up our entire room from the light pad and waking my husband up.
I became obsessed with the idea of keeping my baby warm at night, while still keeping her safe and not overheating her.
If you’re wondering how to keep your baby or toddler warm while they sleep, let me give you some tips to simplify things so you feel confident in how to keep your baby warm and safe for sleep!
How Do I Know if My Baby is Warm Enough at Night?
There’s an easy way to tell if your baby is warm enough at night. Touch them and see how their skin feels!
I recommend using the touch test on their belly or the back of their neck. Your baby’s arms and legs tend to run a little bit cooler than the rest of their body. Their core body temperature is the best indicator of their comfort level.
Your baby should feel slightly warm. If they’re sweaty, they’re too hot. If you don’t feel much warmth to your touch, your baby is probably a little too cold.
Thankfully, it’s much easier to help your baby warm up than it is to cool them down. While you might not have much control over the temperature in the air, you can control what is covering their body.
Getting your baby warmer is just a matter of adding additional clothing or coverings, like footie pajamas and swaddles. There are all sorts of ways of how to dress your baby for sleep to keep them warm.
If you’re not sure how to keep your baby warm at night, ask yourself: how are you going to dress for bed?
Dress your baby in seasonally appropriate clothes, similar to how you dress yourself for sleep at night.
For babies younger than 18 months, I like to use the “plus one layer” method. Dress your baby similarly to how you’re dressing for bed and then add an additional layer.
Think about it this way: you probably use sheets or comforters at night, but your baby is too young to have a blanket in the bed. Adding a layer like a swaddle or a sleep sack is a great substitute for a blanket.
When using a sleep sack or swaddle, make sure to pay attention to the garment’s TOG rating. TOG is a standard measurement used to determine how warm a piece of clothing is. The best sleep sacks usually state the TOG right on the tag.
How Do I Know if Baby is Cold at Night?
First, I want you to use your common sense.
Is your home thermostat set to a comfortable temperature? Do you feel comfortable in it? Chances are very good that if you’re too chilly, your baby is probably feeling a similar way.
If you want to know how to dress your baby for sleep in the winter, your best line of defense against cold nights is your thermostat. If you’re wondering how to keep your baby’s room warm at night, bumping up the temperature to around 72 degrees is the easiest way to do it.
Still, it can be tricky keeping your baby warm at night in a cold house. That’s especially true if it’s winter or your home is drafty.
When the climate control in the house is less than reliable, the next best option is to put your baby to bed with warmer layers.
How to Keep Your Baby Warm at Night Without a Swaddle
If your baby doesn’t like to be swaddled, there are other ways to add warmth and layers at night.
First, you could try adding more clothes. Try layering footie pajamas over a onesie, adding socks or leggings, or switching short sleeves out for long sleeves.
Maybe your baby has been fighting the swaddle because it’s too restricting for their arms and legs. If that’s the case, you could try a sleep sack instead.
Sleep sacks tend to be a looser fit. Many are designed to keep your baby’s hands free for easy self-soothing. Even through they’re looser, sleep sacks still add a layer to keep your baby warm at night.
How to Keep Your Baby’s Face Warm at Night
When you’re using the touch test to check on your baby’s temperature, you might brush up against a chilly cheek. Don’t worry! It’s very likely that their exposed skin will feel much cooler than the parts of your baby that are covered.
Make sure you feel their core temperature as well. It’s possible that their body is warm enough even with a cooler face.
If you use a fan in your baby’s room for white noise, make sure the air isn’t blowing directly on them. It will likely make any exposed skin much cooler than the rest of their body.
If the only part of your baby that feels cool is their face, you probably don’t need to adjust the room temperature or clothing.
Avoid using a hat on your sleeping baby, because it can slip off while they sleep and become a suffocation risk.
How Do I Know if My Toddler is Warm Enough at Night?
The ideal sleeping temperature for your baby doesn’t really change as they age. However, their ability to weather a little temperature discomfort does.
The more your baby grows, the more easily they are able to fall back asleep on their own after waking in the middle of the night.
Still, if we can avoid having our toddlers wake up unnecessarily, we should! To make sure your toddler is warm enough at night, you can use the same touch test as when they were younger.
If you notice that your toddler seems cold at night (or maybe they’re even waking up and telling you so!) there are many ways to handle it.
Once your little one reaches toddlerhood, you have another warming tool at your disposal that wasn’t an option when they were younger:
The tricky part about using bedding to keep your toddler warm at night is that they might not stay underneath it. If your toddler is an active sleeper who rolls around a lot, there’s a good chance their sheets or blanket isn’t going to stay put.
To stop your toddler from kicking off their blankets, try to tuck them in securely. You could even try leaving their fidgety feet free and just use the covers on their body.
You can also opt for thinner or lighter blankets. If your toddler is kicking off their covers at night, it could be because it’s too hot!
How Do I Keep my Toddler Warm at Night Without a Blanket?
If your toddler is cold at night and their bedding is constantly ending up piled at their feet or pushed to the side, you don’t have to use bedding at all. There’s no need to force the issue! Many families choose not to use bedding until 3 or 4 years old, around the time they transition to a toddler bed.
To keep your toddler warm at night, you can add clothing layers or dress them in thicker pajamas, just like you did when they were younger.
Another warmer option for your toddler is to size up to a large sleep sack or get them a wearable blanket.
Whether your little one is a newborn or toddler, sleep temperature is something to consider at any age. I hope these tips will help you keep your baby warm and comfortable at night!