What Should a Newborn Wear To Sleep?

Here’s what you need to know about dressing your newborn for bedtime.

newborn napping in blue long sleeved onesie
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Once your child is born and you’re finally in the car leaving the hospital, it may hit you that your family is officially expanding. You’ll start to have all the questions, even over seemingly simple things like what you should dress your newborn in when it’s time to sleep. There’s a lot involved in parenting well, but it’s important to know you’re not in it alone once you’re without the medical help of nurses or doctors. There are plenty of resources and loads of educational material to help you learn anything from how to change a diaper to helping a new mother navigate breastfeeding.

While it’s helpful to know you have the support of a pediatrician and several resources to help you make informed decisions, it can be stressful juggling the joys and challenges of parenthood while feeling like you’re taking a crash course on all things babies. It’s normal to experience a sense of anxiety because you care about keeping everyone safe and thriving. That’s why I wrote this article, to break down questions you may have about children’s sleepwear in an easy-to-understand way without feeling like you need a medical degree or have to bounce around to 1,000 different websites to find what you’re looking for.

Without further delay, let’s dive into why it matters what and where your newborn sleeps, what you can do to keep them safe, and answer the question of what newborns should wear to sleep.

Why It Matters

There are some serious risks of unsafe sleeping environments for babies. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that over 3,600 infants die in the United States each year during their sleep. The most common causes are suffocation, strangulation, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, otherwise referred to as SIDS.

While not every risk can be wholly eliminated, controllable factors like temperature, cribs, and what a newborn wears to sleep can considerably reduce the likelihood of any dangers. Thankfully, many more resources and research these days can help sleep-deprived parents make informed decisions for their children.

Let’s look at what a safe sleep setup looks like for babies.

The Safest Sleep Environment

AAP suggestions include room-sharing with your child until at least six months, ideally through their entire first year of life. Research has shown this cuts back on the likelihood of occurrence of SIDS by as much as 50 percent. Although, there is a distinction made between room-sharing and bed-sharing. In an article from leading SIDS researcher Dr. Rachel Moon, bringing your baby into your bed should only occur when feeding or comforting, and they should be placed back in their crib for sleep.

When it comes to cribs or bassinets, they should meet the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The mattress should be firm, meaning it shouldn’t indent when the baby lies on it. Sheets or covers should fit snuggly, not being loose or have fabric gathering anywhere, and no loose items like toys, hats, a pillow, or blankets should be in the crib with the newborn to prevent risks of strangulation or suffocation.

Another AAP recommendation to be aware of is that babies should always be placed on their back in bed and never on their tummy for naps and bedtime sleep through the first year. This sleeping position considerably reduces the risk of SIDS or suffocation.

As far as what clothing you should dress your newborn in for sleep, here’s what experts recommend.

What Clothes Should A Newborn Wear To Sleep

Since a blanket isn’t available as an item for babies to sleep with, you may be wondering what the best option is for how to dress them for bed. There are several newborn sleep clothing options available. You’ll notice several sleeping bags, sacks, onesies, and swaddles.

Lighter short sleeve sacks or onesies made from single cotton sheets without any padding are best for hot temperatures, primarily anything above 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Clothing with only light padding is best for warmer weather or indoor temperatures between 64 and 75 degrees.

Slightly more padded clothing like a bodysuit is typically suitable for year-round use minus peak summer months, offering comfortable regulation for infants in temperatures between 59 and 70 degrees. For winter, the warmth of padding and layers of something like fleece are best used in temperatures under 59 degrees.

An official textile grade can help parents determine ideal sleep clothes for different seasons or temperatures. We’ll get into that next.

What To Know About Thermal Overall Grade

You’re likely worried about your baby being too hot or cold. Those are valid concerns, and it can be difficult to judge the right clothing choices, especially for new parents who have to learn everything for the first time.

For starters, room temperature is a critical factor to consider. The recommended ideal climate for a baby’s room is between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. And for parents concerned about overheating or cooling, it’s important to note the AAP considers a healthy infant temperate to be between 97 and 100.3 Fahrenheit. If you’re worried about them being too hot or cold, a test you can do is placing your hand on their stomach and seeing if they’re hot or cool to the touch.

Researchers typically recommend that babies dress in one extra layer than you would need to be comfortable as a rule of thumb. Another piece of information to be aware of is the Thermal Overall Grade in newborn clothing – or TOG. TOG is used to determine what pajamas to dress babies in that will keep them comfortable or warm while they sleep.

You’ll notice the TOG is listed when searching for a sleeping bag or sleepwear for your baby. The ratings range from 0.5 to 3.0 – 0.5 is what’s best for warm temperatures, especially during the summer, while 3.0 is best for cold temperatures, such as during winter. 2.5 on the TOG rating is typically considered the standard for year-round use, being best for temperatures ranging anywhere from 59 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Knowing what sleeping sack, onesie, or swaddle should be worn to keep your newborn comfortable is important. The TOG scale will help you make that decision.


I hope this helps you feel more confident and sets your mind at ease as you make parenting decisions. Raising a little human is tough work, often leaving you exhausted and wondering if you’re making all the right choices. I get it. Rest assured, you’re doing a great job. Just like any skill, it gets easier over time. You’ll start to feel more comfortable and settle into your parenting style as time goes on. Most importantly, try to enjoy the stage you’re in right now. Soon, you’ll have a toddler running around because time truly does fly.

*Tips for Keeping Infants Safe During Sleep From the American Academy of Pediatrics*. (2020, February 19). American Academy of Pediatrics. Retrieved April 18, 2022, from https://www.aap.org/en/news-room/news-releases/aap/2020/tips-for-keeping-infants-safe-during-sleep-from-the-american-academy-of-pediatrics/

*How to Keep Your Sleeping Baby Safe: AAP Policy Explained*. (2021, June 1). HealthyChildren.Org. Retrieved April 18, 2022, from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/sleep/Pages/A-Parents-Guide-to-Safe-Sleep.aspx?_ga=2.22056184.256973997.1650318068-383768059.1643230197&_gl=1*155j2qj*_ga*MzgzNzY4MDU5LjE2NDMyMzAxOTc.*_ga_FD9D3XZVQQ*MTY1MDMxODA2Ny4zLjEuMTY1MDMxODk2Ny4w

Olson, L. (n.d.). *What Should a Baby Wear to Sleep?* The Tot. Retrieved April 18, 2022, from https://www.thetot.com/baby/how-to-dress-baby-for-bed-2/

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