What Should Baby Wear to Bed This Winter?
Parents work tirelessly to make sure baby is comfortable, from checking to see if their diaper needs changing to ensuring baby isn’t too hot or cold. With winter fast approaching, many parents wonder how to best keep baby warm, particularly overnight. We asked two pediatric sleep experts for their top tips on what baby should wear to bed this winter, as well as their recommendations for which are the best baby winter pajamas to buy.
You might be inclined to bundle baby up before putting them down for a snooze, particularly as the outside temps drop overnight. But experts say babies generally don’t need the extra layers. According to Rachel Mitchell, a certified pediatric sleep consultant and founder of My Sweet Sleeper, the ideal sleep temperature for baby is between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. “During the winter, parents have a tendency to over bundle their babies in fear of them being cold, but as long as the room temp remains within this range, there is no need to dress baby in layers,” she says. Plus, babies have a tendency to run warm, even if their hands and feet seem cool to the touch, making extra sleep clothes largely unnecessary.
But what to do if the nursery dips below 68 degrees? “If it’s not possible to keep the room at the ideal temperature, adding an additional layer—such as a onesie and a sleep sack—is a good way to keep baby warm,” says Rebecca Kempton, MD, a certified pediatric sleep specialist, founder of Baby Sleep Pro and a medical expert with Dr.Brown’s. Another option? If “you’re concerned about the cold, dress baby in fleece footed pajamas,” she suggests.
When the weather turns cold, you probably reach for a comforter—but be careful never to cover baby in loose blankets, as it could pose a suffocation risk. “Loose blankets pose a safety risk for infants because their motor skills are not yet developed enough to prevent suffocation if something (a blanket, stuffed animal, etc.) ends up against their face,” Kempton explains. A good alternative is a thick swaddle or wearable sleep blanket (aka a sleep sack), which zips around baby like a sleeping bag and keeps them both warm and safe.
Luckily, when it comes to finding the best winter baby pajamas, swaddles and sleep sacks, there are several safe, warm options to choose from. Below are some of our favorite brands for winter baby sleepwear.
Swaddles with a long-sleeve onesie are a safe option for baby’s winter pajamas, Mitchell says, as it’ll keep baby snug without the added risk of having loose materials in the crib. If you’re swaddling, make sure not to swaddle baby too tightly, as this could cause hip problems—your little one should still be able to move their legs.
Halo’s sleepsack swaddles offer adjustable fasteners for a perfect fit and allow baby to sleep with their arms in or one (or both) arms out. The brand offers swaddles in Velboa and fleece materials, both of which are great for chillier winter nights. Bonus: Halo also has warm sleep sack offerings for older babies and toddlers.
Love to Dream offers swaddles with varying TOG ratings (aka fabric warmth ratings). TOG stands for thermal overall grade, and the higher the TOG rating, the warmer baby will be while wearing the item. Love to Dream offers 2.5 TOG swaddles, which are great for keeping baby warm during the chillier months. Plus, Love to Dream’s swaddle design allows baby to safely bring their hands to their mouth for self-soothing.
This brand offers zippered, 2.5 TOG swaddles that are made with bamboo and GOTS-certified organic cotton. The swaddles allow baby enough room to stretch and move around and even account for their startle reflex to help them stay asleep.
Sleep sacks are essentially wearable blankets for baby, and they’re a great option for baby’s winter pajamas. “They’re fitted enough to baby—they keep blanket material away from the face while leaving arms free—that they prevent the risk of suffocation,” Kempton says. Pair the sleep sack with a onesie underneath to ensure that baby is warm and comfortable.
MORI offers sleep sacks in varying TOG ratings, so you can find the right weight to keep baby warm (but not too warm). The sleep sacks feature full zippers for easy in and out and are crafted from organic cotton and bamboo for superior softness and sustainability.
Baby Deedee offers both traditional sleep sacks and sleep sack walkers (which they call “kickers”)—this type of wearable blanket has built-in legs, perfect for older babies and toddlers who are on the move (or like to kick around in their sleep). Made of 100 percent polar fleece, their kickers will keep baby warm and cozy on the coldest of nights.
Even if baby isn’t using a swaddle or sleep sack, footed pajamas can keep your little one plenty warm. If you’re sticking with non-footed pajamas, refrain from putting socks on baby’s feet. “They don’t need socks during sleep (and most of the time they would kick them off anyway),” Mitchel explains, adding, “They should never be put to sleep with a hat or other loose clothing items or accessories.”
Carter’s offers pajama top and bottom sets, as well as footed pajama onesies in cotton and fleece, in a wide array of prints and at prices that are hard to beat…
The iconic brand known for matching family pajamas also makes some of the best pajamas baby can wear year-round, particularly during the colder months. They offer organic cotton onesies with and without footies, as well as long-sleeve two-piece sets.
Old Navy makes some of the best winter baby pajamas on the market. They offer cute, cozy footed pajamas, as well as two-piece sets. Bonus: The full-body zipper makes those bleary-eyed diaper changes a breeze.
All of the above options are safe for baby to wear to bed this winter, but remember, don’t go overboard bundling baby up for bedtime. “If baby feels clammy or wakes up sweating, chances are they are too warm and may need to be dressed in lighter clothing,” Mitchell says.
About the experts:
Rebecca Kempton, MD, is a certified pediatric sleep specialist based in Chicago. She is the founder of Baby Sleep Pro and a board member of the American Sleep Association and the Family Sleep Institute. She obtained her medical degree from Cornell Medical School.
Rachel Mitchell is a Boston-based certified maternity and pediatric sleep consultant, former night nanny and mom to seven. She is also the founder of My Sweet Sleeper, a team of maternity and pediatric sleep specialists that help growing families get some much needed shut-eye, as well as the founder of Sweet Sleep Academy, a pediatric sleep consultant program.