What should babies wear to bed? Safer sleep advice for winter

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Sleeping baby

It’s tempting to give your baby lots of layers to wear in bed when the weather gets colder.

But it’s important that your baby doesn’t get too hot when they sleep because overheating can increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Here’s some advice on how to reduce the risk of your baby overheating when they sleep.

What should babies wear to bed?

Your baby should only need to wear a nappy, vest and sleep suit to sleep in.

But remember, all babies are different and this is a guide. It will also depend on the room temperature (a room temperature of 16-20°C is ideal).

Babies don’t need to wear a hat indoors or for sleeping, even if they may have done so whilst being cared for in a neonatal intensive care unit, if they happened to be premature. This is because their head is important for maintaining their body temperature by releasing heat.

What covers should babies sleep in?

A baby sleeping bag or well-fitting sheets and blankets are all you should need to keep a baby warm.

  • Never use duvets, quilts or pillows for babies who are aged under one year.
  • Bear in mind, a folded blanket provides twice the insulation.
  • If you are using light bedding such as sheets and blankets, they should be firmly tucked in, no higher than their shoulders, with no loose ends that could obstruct your baby’s breathing; this will reduce the risk of baby’s head being covered by bedding during sleep.
  • Similarly, baby sleeping bags should be well fitted, especially around the neck and arms, but comfortable, so your baby cannot wriggle down inside. Never add an extra blanket on top of the sleeping bag; if you think baby feels cold, then add a layer to them.

Find more information about the safest way for your baby to sleep by watching our safer sleep guide:

Should you swaddle a baby?

Little Lullaby is run by The Lullaby Trust, which funds research into the cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The Lullaby Trust does not advise for or against swaddling because current evidence is inconsistent.

Read how to swaddle your baby safely here.

What temperature should a baby’s room be?

A room temperature of 16-20°C is ideal for babies — which can feel quite cold to lots of people.

It can be difficult to judge the temperature in the room, so use a room thermometer in the rooms where your baby sleeps and plays.

You can get a free room thermometer when you create an account on Little Lullaby.

How can I check if my baby is too hot?

The best way to check on your baby’s temperature is by putting your hand on the skin on their tummy or the back of their neck. Don’t use their hands or feet as a guide as they will always feel cooler than the rest of their body.

If your baby is too hot you will feel the skin is hot, slightly clammy or sweaty, and you will need to remove one or more layers.

If your baby feels cold. then add another layer.

It is better to start with a few layers and then add more if your baby feels cold than to overheat your baby. They may need fewer layers than you think, so keep checking.

Why do babies who are unwell need fewer layers?

When babies feel unwell, with a cold or fever, they may be warmer than usual.

It’s important that you put fewer layers on an unwell baby so they have the opportunity to lower their body temperature – don’t feel tempted to wrap an unwell baby up more than usual. If your baby shows signs of being significantly unwell you should always seek medical advice. Babies temperatures can change quickly so do monitor them.

You may also find it helpful to use our Baby Check app to monitor your baby’s symptoms.

Should I keep the heating on all night if my home is too cold?

It is rarely necessary to keep your heating on all night, and adding an extra layer will usually help.

If you do feel your home is too cold and you want to leave the heating on all night, make sure it is set at a low temperature, and certainly no higher than 20⁰C.  Also where possible try not to place your babies cot or Moses basket near a radiator or window.

More information on safer sleep for babies

Help keep your baby safer while they sleep by following our safer sleep advice.

The Lullaby Trust, 11 Belgrave Road, London SW1V 1RB Registered Charity Number: 262191. Registered Company Number 01000824

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