How To Dress Baby for Sleep: The Complete Guide

Baby laying in a crib in onesie

As a parent, you make a lot of decisions, and figuring out how to dress your baby for sleep can be a difficult one. With so many sleepwear options on the market, it’s hard to know which one is the best choice.

Here, we’ll help you put the pieces together so you know what to avoid when dressing your baby and how to help your little one sleep safely and soundly!

Table of contents

How to dress baby for sleep

baby stretching in cute baby pajamas

Your little one likely has loads of adorable clothes. And while those outfits are fun for daytime wear, they aren’t all appropriate for nighttime attire. When you select clothes for your baby to sleep in, you need to focus on two primary things: comfort and safety.

Here are some tips on how to dress your baby for sleep.

Select the right material.

Your baby’s sensitive skin needs clothes that are soft and breathable. When it’s time for bed, you’ll want to change them into something made from natural fibers like cotton or bamboo. These materials help your baby stay cozy as they sleep.

Read the labels on your baby’s clothes and avoid putting them in synthetic materials at night. Polyester and other synthetic fibers can trap heat and make your little one too hot.

Overheating is a serious concern, as it can increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Say no to accessories.

As cute as those tiny bows and decorative buttons can be, they can pose a risk during sleep. Extra accessories on sleepwear can become loose and detach when your baby moves at night. This increases the likelihood of choking or suffocation hazards.

There’s plenty of time for accessorizing during the day. But at night, pick clothes or pajamas without detachable bits. This also includes bibs and hoods, which can obstruct your baby’s breathing if they move the wrong way.

Use layers.

Compared to adults, babies have a harder time regulating their body temperature. Be mindful of how many layers your baby wears at night to keep them comfortable. You want them to be warm but not hot.

Start with a breathable onesie as a base layer, and add more layers as needed. In the summer, the onesie might be enough. But in the winter, you’ll likely need to add some more.

Remember, babies lose heat faster than adults, which means they need one more layer than you’d wear in the same environment.

As you’re changing your little one into their pajamas, remember their feet. Since their circulatory systems are still developing, babies are prone to getting cold feet. A pair of socks can help keep their toes warm.

Swaddle your baby.

Swaddling is a technique in which you place your baby’s arms by their side and wrap a swaddle blanket around their entire body.

This keeps them nice and tight to mimic the womb and help them stay comfortable while sleeping. It also helps control their body temperature.

Also, babies have what’s called the startle (or Moro) reflex, which can make their limbs move when they’re sleeping. This is where the swaddle blanket comes in handy: It holds your little one’s arms and legs in place so these movements don’t wake them.

If you’re struggling to wrap your baby with a proper swaddle, this short video can help. But remember, it takes practice, so it’s OK if your first few attempts come apart as soon as your baby wiggles. Keep trying, and you’ll be a pro before you know it!

Look for swaddle blankets made from breathable, soft cotton to keep your baby safe and comfortable while they drift off to sleep,

Because swaddle blankets help control body temp, you don’t have to worry about your baby overheating while they sleep. But keep in mind when dressing your baby for bed that they will have an extra layer on (their swaddle).

Always swaddle your baby whenever they’re going to sleep, so this includes daytime sleep and nighttime sleep. However, you won’t swaddle your baby forever. Once your little one starts rolling over, it’s time to stop swaddling them because it can pose a safety risk.

Consider the weather.

At your baby shower, you may have received an array of sleepers, from fleece to cotton ones. But sometimes the sizing of the sleepers doesn’t match up with the seasons.

As tempting as it may be to overdress your baby because you want to make sure they’re warm enough, just dress them how you would dress for that season.

For example, avoid putting your baby in fleece sleepers during the warmer months. Choose lighter material, like cotton, to dress your baby in for this time of year.

Choose a tight-fitting sleeper.

Loose-fitting clothing won’t keep your baby warm. In fact, it’s actually unsafe to dress your baby in loose clothing while they sleep.

Opt for sleepers that fit snugly around your baby’s cute little body and that aren’t too long.

Try different types of sleepwear.

baby stretching in cute baby pajamas

Between sleepers, two-piece pajamas, and gowns, your little one likely has several different types of sleepwear in their wardrobe. Let’s look at the pros and cons of some popular styles.

Footed pajamas

These one-piece pajamas with feet attached are the iconic baby sleepwear. You can get them in fleece for winter or cotton and other cooler fabrics for summer.

Footed pajamas are easy to put on. They typically close with snaps or a zipper. Some have a reverse zipper, which makes nighttime diaper changes easier.

However, the feet in these pajamas tend to wear out before the rest of the material. And once your baby can stick a toe through, you’ll need to switch them out or another pair.

Onesie and pants (or shorts)

Some parents prefer their children to sleep in clothes instead of special pajamas. As long as they’re comfortable clothes, that’s OK.

On hot nights, babies can sleep in just a onesie. As the temperatures drop, you can add light cotton shorts or pants.

One benefit of choosing this outfit for sleep is that you won’t necessarily need to change your baby into different clothes in the morning. This can streamline things if you have to leave early.

It also helps minimize the amount of clothes you need to have on hand for your little one. This can help save space in small nurseries.

Two-piece pajamas

As your baby grows, two-piece pajamas become more common. These typically feature a matching shirt and pants. Sometimes, there will be snaps connecting the pieces.

These are similar to a onesie and pants, except they typically have cute night-time-themed prints. You probably wouldn’t want your little one to wear these during the day.

One downside to this pajama style is that losing one of the pieces is easy. While mismatched pajamas still work, you might not think they look as cute.

Also, if there aren’t any snaps connecting the top and bottom pieces, babies who move around at night will likely wake up with the top bunched around their shoulders. When that happens, they could become cold or uncomfortable.


Similar to footed pajamas, rompers are a one-piece outfit for your baby. However, they are footless, so your little one’s feet come out through the leg openings. You’ll likely want to cover their feet with socks to keep them warm.

This type of pajama layers well under a sleep sack. It’s also easy to put on, and they come in so many cute styles.

In hot weather, rompers may be too warm for your baby, especially if made of fleece or another thick material. Plus, you have to practically remove the whole thing before you can change a diaper. And when you’re exhausted, that can be challenging.

Sleep gowns

Sleep gowns are long-sleeved garments that feature an open bottom. They make changing your baby’s diaper possible without completely removing their clothes.

Gowns often span multiple sizes. For example, one gown might work for babies from 0-6 months. This means you won’t have to buy as many. They also have a comfortable fit that lets your baby kick their legs.

But if they kick too much, their legs will get out from under the gown, leaving them exposed. They might then become too cold.

In addition, gowns don’t work well for older babies who are more mobile. They can become tangled in them.

Which type of pajama is best?

baby stretching in cute baby pajamas while in crib

The pajamas that your baby can comfortably and safely sleep in are the best. There isn’t one pajama style for everyone.

To help you decide what to dress your little one in for sleep, here are some questions to consider:

  • How easy will diaper changes be in this? (You and your little one will both be tired, so you want to make sure it’s simple.)
  • Does this look and feel comfortable?
  • Is it easy to put on my baby?
  • Are there any safety concerns about this pair of pajamas? (Such as: does it have a hood or extra pieces that need to be removed before bed?)
  • Can my baby move freely in this?

Deciding which style is best for you and your baby might take some experimentation.

What to avoid when dressing baby for sleep

Mom kissing baby and showing how to dress baby for sleep

Overdressing your baby

We get it: You want to make sure your baby is comfortable. But the number one mistake when dressing babies for sleep is overdressing.

This can lead to overheating, which can then lead to an increased risk of SIDS. Plus, dressing your baby in more clothes than they need actually makes them uncomfortable — which is the opposite of what you want!

A good rule of thumb is to go by your own internal temperature. What are you comfortable wearing in your home? Do you tend to get hot or cold easily?

Chances are, your baby has a similar internal thermometer even though theirs is still adjusting. If you’re too hot sleeping in long pants during June, they probably will be too.

Sleeping in outdoor wear

Coats and thick outerwear may seem like a good idea if it’s frigid outside. However, these bulky items can increase the risk of suffocation and overheating if left on all night.

Instead, use a thicker sleep sack or another layer of regular sleepwear on cold nights.

Letting your baby sleep in a hat

When you brought your newborn home from the hospital, they were probably wearing some type of hat.

Hats serve a good purpose: They help keep your baby warm as they adjust to the new world around them. But it’s best to take the hat off when your baby is ready to go to sleep.

Even though newborns can’t roll over, they still move their heads quite a bit while they’re sleeping. A hat could slide around and eventually end up covering your little one’s face. All in all, it’s a safety hazard you want to avoid.

Giving Your Baby A Blanket

Along with sleepers, you probably have a slew of blankets from your baby shower. While baby blankets are super cute and versatile, sleeping with one isn’t an option right now for your infant.

Giving your little one a blanket to sleep with is unsafe. It’s another suffocation hazard for babies since their motor skills aren’t quite developed enough to move the blanket away from their face should it cover their mouth and nose.

For now, save the adorable blankets for playtime and cuddle time, and remember to always keep an eye on your baby when a blanket is involved.

Signs your baby is uncomfortable

baby wearing cute baby outfit with ruffles and flowers

It would be so much easier if your baby could just tell you what they want, but since they won’t be able to do that for quite some time, you’ll have to look for clues, such as crying.

Crying is the main form of communication for your baby. They cry when they’re hungry, tired, or need a diaper change — and that’s just a short list! If your baby is fed and changed but still crying, they might be trying to tell you something.

The following are signs that your baby may be too hot or too cold:

  • Sweating
  • Rash
  • Wet hair
  • Red cheeks
  • Quickened breathing patterns
  • Fussing
  • Their tummy and back of their neck are warm (Their hands and feet might still feel cold because their circulatory system is still developing, so check these areas instead.)
  • Bluish tone to their skin

    Tips for helping your baby sleep well

    Baby wearing a swaddle blanket to show how to dress baby for sleep

    Now that your little one is dressed for bed, let’s talk about how to keep them asleep. The tips below can help you both get the rest you need.

    Adjust the room temperature.

    Temperature settings are a hot debate among family members. For the sake of your baby, the temperature should be between 68 and 72 degrees.

    It’s best to have some type of thermometer to measure the temperature in the room where your baby sleeps. Some devices even alert you if it’s too hot or too cold!

    If you don’t have a thermometer in your baby’s room, you can use your hand to check. Place the palm of your hand on their head or chest and make sure they feel warm (not hot or cold.)

    If you suspect your baby is too hot, try one or more of the following to help them cool down:

    • Remove one of their layers
    • Unwrap their swaddle and remove the swaddle blanket
    • Turn the thermostat down
    • Turn on a fan to get the air circulating

    If your baby feels cool, they could be too cold. Here are some things you can do to help them warm up:

    • Turn the thermostat up a bit
    • Turn on a space heater for a few minutes (you don’t want it to run when you’re sleeping)
    • Swaddle them
    • Add another layer of clothing, such as a sleeper or sleep sack

    Once you make changes, wait 10-15 minutes and touch your baby again. They should be adjusting to the new temperature. If they’re not, try another of the strategies above to help them warm up or cool down.

    Use a firm and breathable mattress.

    One way you can regulate your baby’s body temperature while they sleep is by using a breathable mattress. These types of mattresses allow for better airflow to help your baby stay cool and reduce the chance of them overheating.

    We have just the mattress to do the trick! The Newton Baby Crib Mattress is breathable and washable, so your baby can breathe straight through it and you can wash it whenever you need to.

    What’s more, your baby won’t wake up because of a sweaty back. They’ll sleep better and safer with a Newton Baby mattress, which means you'll sleep better because your mind is at ease.

    Our mattress is the answer to all your baby’s sleep needs!

    Run a fan.

    You may also want to run a fan in your baby’s room to help keep the air circulating. Without it, the air can feel stagnant and hot even if the temperature is just right.

    Plus, it’s a type of white noise and can help lull your baby to sleep!

    However, you’ll want to keep the fan away from the crib. If your little one can pull up, you don’t want them to stick a finger inside accidentally.

    Lay your baby on their back.

    When laying your baby down to sleep, place them on their back. Back is best — or back to sleep, as the saying goes.

    This is important because if your baby were to roll over, they wouldn’t be able to roll back and may get stuck with their nose and mouth buried in their mattress. Another reason why a breathable crib mattress is a must!

    Keep their sleep surface flat and firm.

    baby laying in a crib on its back

    Car seats, swings, bouncers, and strollers aren’t designed for safe sleep. These products may seem like a tempting place to let your baby catch some Z’s, but since they’re inclined, they pose a risk.

    Instead, place your baby on a flat, firm surface for sleeping. A bassinet, play yard, and crib are all great options.

    Don’t add any extras to the bed.

    As tempting as it may be, there’s no need to add any extras to your baby’s sleep space. Even if you received a cute crib set at your baby shower, don’t use it in the crib while your baby is sleeping!

    The crib needs to stay clear of any extras, including pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, and bumpers. If you want to use them as decor for nursery pictures, go for it. Just remember to take them out when your baby is sleeping.

    Use tight-fitting sheets.

    Your baby’s clothing isn’t the only thing that needs to fit snugly. Their sheet should be tight-fitting as well to make their sleep experience as safe as possible.

    You actually don’t have to use sheets with a Newton Baby Crib Mattress because it’s completely cozy and washable.

    But if you are looking for the perfect crib sheet, our Organic Cotton Sheets are breathable, soft, and safe to use with any crib mattress. They provide a snug fit for all mattresses — standard and mini!

    Dressing for sleep success

    baby laying on back on on crib mattress

    If you want a successful night’s sleep for you and your baby, dress them for the occasion!

    Remember the dos and don'ts of how to dress baby for sleep, and look for signs that your baby is uncomfortable. Help your baby sleep safely by keeping the room temperature just right, running a fan, keeping their crib clear, and using tight-fitting sheets.

    Finally, don’t forget to choose a breathable Crib Mattress that allows for superior airflow. With Newton Baby’s breathable sleep products, you can dress your baby for sleep success every night!

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