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What Do Babies Sleep in During the Summer?

Are you wondering what do babies sleep in during the summer? Here are some things to consider and ideas for dressing your baby for sleep in warmer months!

What do babies sleep in during summer?

Trying to guess how to dress your baby for sleep can be tricky, and it has some big consequences if you do it wrong! 

It turns out that what your baby wears to sleep can have a big impact on their sleep safety and your entire family’s ability to sleep well.

An uncomfortable baby is not going to sleep well. Even worse, an overheated baby is in danger, and faces a higher risk of SIDS.

As the summer months and hot weather approaches, many new parents wonder: what do babies sleep in during the summer?

Ideal nursery temperature for sleeping

Nursery Temperatures & Sleep Safety

Studies have actually shown that sleeping in a cooler room climate helps promote longer and more comfortable sleep.

For baby’s sleep, the ideal temperature in a room is between 68–72 degrees. That’s surprisingly cool, especially in the summer when the AC is already working overtime.

If baby’s room temperature is either above or below the optimal 68–72 degrees F, you’ll need to add or subtract layers accordingly.

Using loose blankets or other draping fabric in the crib before your baby is 12 months old is a SIDS risk. It’s also against the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for safe sleep (or what we sometimes refer to as the ABC’s of safe sleep).

Since blankets are out of the question until around 12 months old, the only way you can ensure it’s a comfortable temperature is by the thermostat and how you dress your baby for sleep.

If you’re not sure what the temperature of the room is at any given time, you can always opt for a room thermometer or a baby monitor that has a built-in thermometer.

How to dress your baby for sleep during summer

The Golden Rule of Dressing Your Baby for Sleep

It can be so easy to obsess over the thermostat when you’re a new parent. It’s one of the few things that you feel like you have actual control over!

But my advice to you is this: don’t stay glued to the thermostat and fret over every degree. You’ll drive yourself bonkers (and probably end up spending way more money on your utility bill!).

Instead, I recommend you follow this good rule of thumb for dressing your baby for sleep: if you feel comfortable the way you’re dressed, dress your baby similarly. 

Consider adding a light layer over any exposed skin if your baby sleeps close to a fan or AC vent, where cool air conditioning might flow over them at any point.

You might also need to add an extra layer for your baby if they’re a newborn, since they’re less capable of regulating body temperature.

But the general idea is that you shouldn’t dress your baby in many more layers than you plan to sleep in, because they’ll likely overheat—especially in the summer!

TOG ratings and fabrics to dress your baby in during the summer

TOG Ratings & Fabric Choices

Speaking of overheating, it’s important to understand that some fabrics and clothing materials can be deceptively warm! 

Textile technology has come a long way over the past 50 years, and it’s not always possible to judge the warmth of a garment by its look or feel.

That’s why I was so happy to learn about TOG Ratings—they are the best way and the key to understanding how warm or cool a garment will feel for your baby!

“TOG” stands for Thermal Overall Grade, and it’s a standardized measurement of heat. TOG ratings measure insulation on a scale of <1 to 3.5.

The lower the TOG rating, the cooler the fabric is.

When you’re choosing clothing, swaddles, or sleep sacks to dress your baby for sleep during the summer, I recommend looking for 0.5 or 1 TOG garments in breathable fabrics.

Some fabrics that offer a lower TOG rating are light cotton (which is soft, lightweight, and breathable), rayon (made from cotton, wood pulp, and natural fibers so it’s light weight and soft), and linen (which is breathable and loosely woven).

What should a newborn wear to sleep in the summer

What Should a Newborn Wear to Sleep?

If you’re wondering how to dress a newborn in summer, I’ve got you covered! 

I know we all have this urge to bundle up our sweet little newborns for sleep, but it’s really not necessary (and sometimes it’s just downright dangerous!).

With a newborn baby, keep in mind that you’ll likely be adding an additional layer at night in the form of a swaddle or sleep sack. Basically, whatever you plan to wear to bed at night, dress them similarly while keeping in mind that extra layer.

For example, if you’re sleeping in a tank top and shorts in the summer, dress your baby in a short sleeve onesie before adding the swaddle.

Remember that you may have a thin sheet over you as you sleep as well.

If your summer nights are on the cooler side, or if your child’s bedroom is highly air conditioned, it might be a good idea use a low-TOG long sleeve pajama set as the base layer.

Swaddling your newborn to sleep in the summer

Swaddling Your Newborn to Sleep in the Summer

You might still be swaddling your newborn at night, and that’s totally fine! I typically recommend swaddling in those first few months of life.

In the summer, it’s important to use a swaddle that doesn’t add too much warmth, and maybe also dress your baby in cooler pajamas underneath the swaddle. That means picking a low TOG option for both pajamas and swaddles!

Consider skipping the footie pajamas for your newborn in the summer, and go with a light short-sleeved onesie underneath the swaddle instead.

If your newborn relies on the swaddle to sleep but you’re concerned about overheating, you can use breathable muslin swaddles (like these from Burt’s Bees) over nothing but the diaper or a short sleeve onesie.

Remember: you’ll need to stop swaddling at the very first sign that your baby might be able to roll over. Check out some tips on how to transition out of the swaddle.

If your little one fights the swaddle or needs to transition out the swaddle, check out my favorite summer sleep sacks! Sleep sacks are a wearable blanket and typically don’t sit as tightly against your baby’s skin as a swaddle, making them a cooler option in the summer.

Baby too hot when they're sleeping

How Do I Know if My Baby is Too Hot When They’re Sleeping?

It’s really important to dress your baby so they’re cool enough while they’re sleeping in the summer. We need to make sure we avoid things like dehydration, skin irritation from sweating, heat rash, or even Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Luckily there’s a pretty easy way to determine whether your baby is sleeping too hot: use the touch test! Use your hand to touch the back of their neck or their belly to test their skin temperature.

If your baby feels slightly warm to the touch, that’s perfect! However, they shouldn’t be so warm that they’re sweaty or clammy.

How to know if baby is too hot while sleeping

Aside from the touch test, there are some other signs to look out for that will tell you when your baby is feeling too hot:

  • More crying than usual, especially in the middle of the night
  • Generally restless when you set them down during scheduled naps or bed time
  • More frequent wake-ups or shorter naps than usual
  • Very quiet and still
  • Awake but lethargic or floppy
  • Uninterested in feeding

If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to gently and slowly cool your baby down by removing layers. Do not cool your baby down too fast (like with a cold bath or in front of an AC vent), since that can be a shock to their little systems.

I hope this helped you decide how to dress your baby for sleep in the summer! Let me know what questions you have in the comments below.

Amy Motroni
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