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What to Dress Baby in at Night for Sleep: The ABC’s of Safe Sleep

Feeling anxious about how to dress your newborn appropriately for sleep? It’s normal. New parents always worry about everything related to their babies to the extent that they’ve given this name a fear – baby fears.

Suddenly, a simple question like “how should I dress my baby for sleep?” becomes so central and complex, simply because of the potentially scary consequences.

We’ve been there, and we just happen to have the answers to your lingering question. Today, we’re going to explain to you exactly how to dress your little one comfortably at night to enable them to get the quality sleep they deserve so that you can get yours too. So, let’s put your baby to sleep!

1. Keep It Light and Breezy On Summer Days

As a golden rule of thumb, when the long summer nights are here, lighten up your little one’s clothes. Babies are easily affected by hot weather, and they only need to be “comfortably” warm, but not too warm, to get a great night’s sleep.

Basic short-sleeve cotton bodysuits, organic-cotton bodysuits, and muslin t-shirts would make the perfect choices. And if you won’t feel good without putting an extra layer to the clothes, a cotton swaddle or sleep sack would be just fine.

However, on the days where there’s extra heat, it’s best to eliminate the layers and stick to the bodysuits or the tees. That’s unless you have the air conditioner on, in which case you could opt for footed cotton pajamas or onesies.

2. Prep For the Colder Weather

During the cold winter nights, it’s essential to keep your baby warm and comfy, but it’s equally as important not to go overboard. It’s best to go for clothing made of natural materials – especially cotton or bamboo – to provide your little one with the optimal blend of breathability and warmness.

But if your baby is the type that gets too cold or if you feel like the surrounding environment demands more than cotton, fleece pajamas would be your go-to. Not to mention, you can always layer a standard cotton pajama with a microfleece swaddle or a sleep sack.

What’s really important to remember is that you shouldn’t rely on loose blankets to do the work on chilly winter nights. We all know how babies move around, so the blanket will surely come off unless you deliberately make an effort to firmly tuck it in under the sides of their crib’s mattress. Don’t ever do the same for a sleep sack, though.

3. Go All in With the Snug Fit

As you’re shopping for newborn clothes, you’ll find a lot of appealing ones that catch your eye. Among those will probably be flame-resistant pajamas, made of chemically-treated materials to decrease the risk of catching fire.

At first sight, they may seem like the right choice, but in reality, fire-retardant chemicals have been associated with numerous health problems, especially among children. They do serve their purpose, but the chemicals tend to leach out of the clothes and instead go directly to your child’s bloodstream, which certainly isn’t safe.

So, unless you have many flammable objects around that put your little one at risk, we’d say always go for a snuggly fit, even if they aren’t flame-resistant. And don’t worry, the Consumer Product and Safety Commission declared them safe since they’re tight-fitting.

Being tight means they won’t ignite easily, and even if they do, there won’t be any air between the clothes and the baby’s skin to feed it, ultimately bringing it down.

Not to mention, snug fit clothes are always made of softer, non-irritating material –like cotton or natural fiber– that’s of really high quality, so they won’t be affected wash after wash. They’ll guarantee that your little one is always cozy in clothes that fit close to their body, and they’ll be safe.

4. Fashion vs. Function? Fashion With a Function!

When it comes to babies, the only constant is change. And we mean that literally, change as in change of clothes. That’s precisely why you always need to keep convenience at the top of your list as you shop for your little one’s nightclothes.

You’ll need to go on diaper duty several times at night, so you don’t want to struggle with buttons and complicated straps. Instead, choose clothes with zippers or snap fasteners that are easy to navigate, kimono bodysuits, sleep sacks, baby footies, or gowns. Plus, these are always the most comfortable.

A couple of years back, we would’ve said to go for functionality over fashion, but nowadays, fashion is all about needs and personalization, so go for fashion with a function. But in all cases, keep the fancy clothes for the daytime hours, because nighttime is a totally different story.

5. Eliminate Accessories and Extras

From hats to sweatshirts with ears and headbands, accessories can make your baby the cutest on the block, right? We agree, and we live for them too, but not when it’s time for sleep. Unless it’s their pacifier, babies shouldn’t be sleeping in them.

Accordingly, eliminate loose articles before you put your little one to sleep, especially hats. It isn’t just that the hat will inevitably fall during the night, but it could also cover your baby’s face and limit their breathing.

And even if it stays on their head, a baby’s self regulation process works by releasing heat from their head, so hats work against that. Basically, keep your little one’s head uncovered.

Speaking of sweatshirts with ears, similar decorative elements on clothes are what we mean by extras. When it’s sleeping time, it’s best to not dress your baby in clothes that have bows, flowers, hooks, 3D elements, buttons, and similar, because not only are they uncomfortable, but they can also pose choking risks.

Naturally, the same applies to clothes with drawstrings and waistbands because they can cause strangulation hazards. In other words, keep it simple at night.

Looking Out for the Signs

That’s pretty much it when it comes to dressing your baby for sleep. Yet, at the end of the day, it’s all about your baby’s comfort, and the definition of that differs from one newborn to another. So, how do you know if your baby is comfortable, given that they can’t talk?

While it’s true that their coos and cries aren’t the easiest to decode, some of their cues are quite evident and are common across most babies. For instance, if your kiddo is fed and all dressed up for sleep but still seems distressed, they could either be uncomfortable, overheated, or too cold.

Overheating

If they’re too hot, you’ll notice signs like wet hair, fast breathing, red cheeks, sweat, or even rash. When you touch their extremities, they might still feel cold, but take into consideration that their circulatory system is still progressing, so it isn’t an indication that their temperature is all good.

To be on the safe side, feel their neck, chest, or tummy – those will give you a more accurate picture of how your little one is feeling. If you find these areas hot, cool them down by lowering the room temperature or removing a layer of your baby’s clothes. Then, check the same area(s) again in a couple of minutes.

Overcold

On the other hand, if your bambino is too cold, you’ll notice signs like blue-ish hands and feet, for the most part. They don’t have to be excessively blue, so if you notice just a slight color, turn on a heater or add a layer of clothes.

Fortunately, babies feeling cold is easier to handle than when they’re overheated, so in no time, you’ll find their fingers and toes returning to their rosy color.

Other Tips to Factor In:

  • Keep your baby’s crib or bassinet free of any loose-fitting sheets, blankets, pillows, bumpers, stuffed animals, positioners, or similar. Limit the items to the pacifier!
  • It’s best to keep a fan in the room during the summer to keep your baby cool and ensure proper air circulation.
  • The ideal room temperature for your baby’s room should be between 68° and 72°F, layer up or down based on that.
  • According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, if your baby can’t roll yet, it’s best to place their back on a firm surface for sleep,
  • Once your little one can roll, stop using swaddles so they can safely flip over without the swaddles restricting their arm movement.

That’s a Happy Baby!

There you have it – it turns out it’s so simple after all, no? To recap, all you need to do is prioritize safety and comfort. And remember, this is a trial and error process, so see what works best for you and your little one to ensure a restful night. You’ve got this!

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