How to Dress Your Baby for Sleep

How to Dress Your Baby for Sleep

Dressing your baby for sleep can be quite challenging, especially if you’re a new parent. You’re learning everything as you go, second guessing yourself because you want to ensure your little one is comfortable for sleep. Moreover, one of the safety sleep guidelines in order to lower the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) according to Rednose Australia, is ensuring you are not overheating your baby. This can cause many parents to stress, but let me make things a bit easier for you… dress your baby like yourself!

So if you’re going to bed in a t-shirt, sheet & doona, then dress your little one similarly to yourself (3 layers). This can look like a short sleeve bodysuit, pyjama zippy & a sleeping bag (with the right TOG for their room temperature).

If you have a bub that is only a few months old, then the general rule of thumb is to dress them one more layer than what you would wear to sleep. This is because they are still quite young and cannot regulate their own body temperature. So for example, if you’re going to bed in a pyjama t-shirt & pants with a sheet & doona, then I would dress your baby in a singlet, short sleeve bodysuit, pyjama zippy & a swaddle/sleeping bag (with the right TOG for their room temperature), which is one more layer than what you are wearing.

What is a TOG?

TOG stands for “Thermal Overall Grade”. A TOG rating is a measure of how warm and insulating sleepwear and bedding are. In simple terms, a lower TOG rating means the fabric is lighter, while a higher rating indicates more padding and insulation.

When purchasing a sleeping bag or swaddle, it is important to follow the product’s TOG guideline based on the temperature of your child’s room.

What are sleep sacks or sleeping bags?

A sleep sack or a sleeping bag is essentially a wearable blanket. Rednose Australia recommends using them if your little one is still sleeping in a cot. This is because it avoids loose beddings that can potentially suffocate a baby.

Below is a checklist of a safe sleeping bag/sleep sack from Red Nose Australia:

  • Fitted neck so baby can’t slip down into the bag
  • Fitted armholes so arms are not pinned underneath if baby rolls
  • Fits across the chest so there is no loose fabric that could ride up to cover the baby’s face
  • No hood or head covering

What are the benefits of using sleeping bags/sleep sacks?

  • Encourages safety as mentioned above
  • It is a great sleep association as it can signal to your baby’s brain that it is time to sleep
  • Prevents climbing: If you have a little one that is now a climber, a sleeping bag can discourage them from climbing out of their cot

TOG Guidelines

Below is an example of what TOG & layers to dress your baby in based on their room temperature.

*Note that this is only a guideline. Depending on the product brand, they may have a different guideline.


How do I know if I got it right?

Assess by touching your baby’s chest, the back of their neck or tummy (note: checking their hands/feet are not good indicators of whether they are cold or warm). 

If they feel warm but not sweaty, then I would say you got it right! If they feel sweaty and their cheeks look flushed, then I would remove a layer.

What is the perfect temperature for sleep?

There isn't a single "perfect" room temperature for every baby when it comes to sleep because individual preferences and needs can vary. However, there are general guidelines to consider when setting the room temperature for a baby's sleep:

Recommended Range: A typical recommendation is to keep the room temperature between 20°C and 22°C. This range is often considered comfortable and conducive to good sleep for most babies.

Avoid Extremes: Avoid excessively hot or cold temperatures, as they can disrupt a baby's sleep and pose health risks. Extremely cold rooms can make babies uncomfortable, while excessively warm rooms increase the risk of overheating, which is associated with SIDS.

Pay Attention to Signs: Babies may show signs of discomfort if the room is too hot or too cold. These signs can include fussiness, sweating, or shivering (as mentioned above, check your baby’s chest, back of the neck or tummy to get an indicator of whether they are cold or warm). Adjust the room temperature based on your baby's cues.

Is my baby’s room temperature on their monitor accurate?

Nope! Based on what I've seen, monitors don't consistently give accurate room temperatures. Therefore, if the monitor shows a temperature that seems too high or too low, do not get overly concerned. Instead, watch and evaluate how your baby is doing.

If you need more information on Baby Sleep and how to lay a solid sleep foundation for your little one, I have Sleep Guides available for you from Newborn to 24 months of age. These Sleep Guides have everything you need to know about baby & toddler sleep and provide you with research-based knowledge and age-appropriate strategies to help not only your little one, but the whole family, have restful nights.

If you’re wanting 1:1 support, I also have packages available for you. Individual babies have unique sleep patterns and needs, and what works for one may not work for another. My 1:1 support will help you in choosing a responsive method that sits comfortably with you and best suits your bub and their temperament. These packages are for 5 months to 4 years old. If you’re wanting more information on what working together might look like and learn more about my methods, I’m happy to chat. Book your free 15 minute discovery call here. This is your no obligation pathway to better rest.

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