If you are like me, you may second guess yourself with how to dress your baby for sleep, especially on these cold winter nights. To swaddle, or not swaddle? Should I use an undershirt, a sleeper, or a sleep sack? What is considered enough, and what is too much? Then there is the room temperature to think about and does baby need extra blankets? These are completely valid concerns for a lot of parents, and there are so many different sources of information to look at! The biggest goal is to not overheat your baby, as this can put him at risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Let’s break it down, and look at what is best for your baby.
THE SLEEP ENVIRONMENT
The room that your baby sleeps in needs to be at a temperature that is comfortable for an adult dressed in light clothing. A temperature of 20-22 degrees Celsius is ideal. Ensure your heat vents are open as necessary for optimal temperature control. If your furnace vent is under furniture, it may be more efficient for the winter to have them uncovered. Be mindful of electric heaters and any blankets, clothing or other flammables that may end up close to them, as they can become a fire hazard. Check your windows for any drafts, and try and place your crib or bassinet accordingly.
A good rule of thumb is to dress your baby as you would dress for bed with one extra layer. A good example would be a well-fitting sleeper with a onesie underneath. Or you could do a fitted sleeper with a well-fitting sleep sack. It is better to have baby dressed on the cool side instead of too hot. Keep in mind if your baby is co-sleeping with you then they will need less clothing.
When checking baby’s temperature, feel the back of her neck or chest, she should be warm. Baby’s feet and hands may be cool to touch, however this is normal as long as her core is warm. If the room is cool choose a warmer sleeper, or add a sleep sack. It is important not to over-bundle your baby for sleep- tempting as it may be when it’s chilly outside! Baby’s can’t regulate their temperature the same as you or I, so we need to set them up for successful, safe sleep. If you are using a blanket ensure it is lightweight, and firmly tucked in on all three sides of the mattress and only coming up to baby’s armpits. This will help ensure it doesn’t move up and over baby’s face from wiggling.
SIGNS THAT BABY IS TOO WARM OR COLD
If your baby is overheating you may see the following signs: Sweating, flushed cheeks, rash, damp hair, rapid breathing, fussiness. You need to take action by taking off layers and helping him normalize his core body temperature if you notice any of the signs. A sign that baby is too cool will be when his or her chest or back are cool to the touch. If he has cool, pale skin, or it is cool and red, this can indicate baby is too cold. If your baby is actively shivering then he is too cold! You need to start warming him up immediately. Skin to skin contact is a good way to help baby regulate his temperature. Depending on the level of coolness, maybe baby simply needs another layer of clothing.
One thing to be mindful of is if your baby is under the weather. You may need to opt for fewer layers, as her body temperature is already likely elevated and she will need to cool off.
All in all, the best way to dress your baby for sleep in the winter isn’t really much different than in summer. If the room is too hot for you, it’s too hot for your baby. If the room is too cool for you, it’s too cool for baby. It is important not to overheat your baby by over bundling or having elevated room temperatures, due to the added risk for SIDS. If you have any questions on your baby’s sleep please reach out to a Mama Coach in your area. We are here to help you through this incredible journey of parenthood. Remember…You got this Mama!