When it comes to newborn and baby sleep, there are many different options and opinions out there. And parents naturally want to do it “right”. We all want to optimize our newborn’s and baby’s sleep, so everyone is well-rested and happy.
In order to optimize sleep, we need to look at a variety of different factors such as scheduling, wake windows, sleep skills, and environment. One piece of this is the clothing your newborn or baby is wearing while sleeping.
In this blog post, I am going to talk about the best clothing for newborns and babies to sleep in, and why clothing is an essential part of optimal sleep.
Here we go! 👇
Why is clothing choice so important for optimal baby sleep?
Great baby sleep isn’t about just doing one particular thing. When we have a sleep goal such as longer stretches at night, sleeping through the night, or longer naps, we want to take a holistic approach to achieve the goal.
There are many different things that can impact sleep (in a positive or negative way) and optimizing these things is essential when meeting a sleep goal. Some things that affect sleep are:
- Wake window length
- Room temperature
- Moro reflex
- Gas/tummy troubles
- Amount of daytime sleep
- Amount of nighttime sleep
- Number of naps
- And the one we are going to talk about – clothing!
(and of course, there are many more as well)
When we are putting our newborn or baby to bed, we want the type of clothing they are in to help them to be safe, comfortable, and relaxed. If we don’t have the correct clothing, then that could mean your little one is too hot, too cold, not able to move the way they want, or unsettled, and thus it will be more difficult for them to fall asleep and stay asleep.
What clothes should newborns wear to sleep?
Newborns have something called the Moro reflex, which means that their arms and legs will extend outward and startle them, which in turn can wake them up. This is one of the main reasons why I recommend that newborns sleep in a swaddle.
Depending on the climate where you live, the season you are in, and the temperature inside your home, you can put your newborn in pajamas and then use a swaddle on top. As a general recommendation, in the summer you can use a bodysuit for pajamas and then a light (1.0 TOG or lighter) swaddle, and in the winter use footed pajamas and then a 0.6-2.0 TOG). This, of course, depends on the temperature of your baby’s room but usually we recommend the room be around 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
For the swaddle, you can use a swaddle blanket, or you can consider using the Dreamland Baby’s weighted swaddle! The gentle weight helps to mitigate the Moro reflex and helps them fall asleep faster and stay asleep. Use the code CHRISSY15 (or if you are in Canada, CHRISSYCAN15) for 15% off.
Remember, if you are using a swaddle, then for safety reasons, you need to drop it as soon as your baby starts showing signs of rolling. If you are using the Dreamland Baby weighted products, then you can use the transition swaddle so both your baby’s arms are out, or transition to their weighted sleep sack.
For more swaddle help, check out our tutorial for wrapping a tight swaddle here.
What clothing should a baby sleep in?
4 months old marks the end of the newborn stage and your little one is now a “baby”. (Yes, you’re right. This deserves a pause here while we grab a tissue and mourn the end of this unparalleled time!)
Usually, around 4 months we drop the swaddle. This is largely because babies are usually starting to roll by this time and it is very unsafe for a baby to roll while in a swaddle.
Instead of a swaddle, a sleep sack is a great option. It provides comfort and warmth without the use of an unsafe blanket. Just as with the swaddle, the type of pajamas and sleep sack you use is going to depend on the climate and temperature where you live.
Generally speaking, in the summer all you need is a bodysuit for pajamas and then a light (1.0 TOG or lighter) sleep sack. In the winter months, you can use footed pajamas and then a 0.6-2.0 TOG sleep sack. This is assuming the temperature of your baby’s room is around 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
Even after the newborn stage, babies can still be jerky and/or fidgety. This can be because the Moro reflex has not gone away yet, or some babies are just more jerky/fidgety. (Note: There can also be unmet sensory needs, in which case you can do lots of movement exercises during wake windows (see the links below) and/or talk to a specialist such an Occupational Therapist).
To help your little one feel calm and relaxed, promote sleep, as well as mitigate any jerking/fidgeting that may hinder sleep, the Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack is an option. The gentle weight is calming as it is meant to decrease cortisol and increase melatonin and serotonin.
What should your baby wear when starting sleep learning?
When it’s time to start teaching your baby independent sleep skills, there are a lot of things to consider, to set you and your baby up for success. We want to optimize sleep, determine optimal wake windows, and optimize their sleep environment. A big piece of the sleep environment is the clothes and pajamas your baby wears.
When you start sleep learning, our goal is for your baby to be in an optimal state for learning. This means they are well-rested, comfortable, and relaxed. Every baby is different, so the optimal clothing for one baby may be different from another baby. For this reason, I recommend tuning into your little one and their preferences and using this advice as a guideline as you experiment with different clothing options.
Some baby sleep clothes options are:
- Comfy and cozy pajamas that fit the season and room temperature
- Halo sleep sack
- Swaddle Sleeves sleep sack
- Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack
If you are not sure what the best option is for your baby, you can check out this blog post where I talk about transitioning from the swaddle to the sleep sack. Ultimately we want your baby to be calm and relaxed and not have any jerking or fidgeting get in the way of the learning process, which is why using a weighted sleep sack like Dreamland Baby can be a good option!
Recap on the best clothing for newborns and babies to sleep in
At the end of the day, the best clothing for your newborn or baby to sleep in is the clothing that helps them optimize their sleep.
I almost always recommend using a swaddle for the newborn stage, and then transitioning to a sleep sack around 4 months (either once they start showing signs of rolling or when you start sleep learning– whatever comes first).
Of course, tuning into your baby, playing detective and determining what works best for them is often a tricky process. This is why working with a sleep consultant can be super helpful. We can work collaboratively with you to determine how to best optimize your little one’s sleep, and of course make tweaks to the plan as we go.
Click here to check out our consultation options!
Disclaimer about using weighted products: According to the 2022 AAP updated recommendations, “It is recommended that weighted blankets, weighted sleepers, or other weights not be placed on or near the sleeping infant. A single crossover randomized nonblinded trial of 16 infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome found no adverse events when a 1-pound weighted blanket was placed on each infant for 30 minute observed episodes. However, no studies have documented the safety of weights for infants in an unobserved, nonclinical sleep environment.”
We at The Peaceful Sleeper believe in doing what feels best for you and your family. Since there have been no documented adverse “events” from using weighted sleep products (at the date of posting this), and no studies that prove that using a weighted product is unsafe (at the date of posting this), some parents feel comfortable using a weighted product and others do not. We always advocate for doing your own research, staying informed on up-to-date safety recommendations, and making an informed decision that’s best for your family.