Dressing Baby for Sleep

Dressing Baby for Sleep

baby in green sleep bag smiling looking at camera

This can be one of the biggest challenges new parents face-- how to dress their little one comfortably for sleep! This blog is here to help ease your mind on this topic and give you the tools you need to figure out which TOG you should use for your sleep bag in your home, how many layers they may need, and how to keep them comfortable so you can all get good sleep!

We will cover other topics like:

  • Why appropriate layers matters
  • What TOG to use
  • Recommended room temperature
  • How to layer for different temperatures/TOGs

Why do appropriate layers matter for sleep?

According to Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania regarding warmth and temperature regulation, “Babies are not as adaptable as adults to temperature change. A baby's body surface is about three times greater than an adult's, compared to the weight of his/her body. Babies can lose heat rapidly, as much as four times more quickly than adults. Premature and low-birthweight babies usually have little body fat and may be too immature to regulate their own temperature, even in a warm environment. Even full-term and healthy newborns may not be able to maintain their body temperature if the environment is too cold.

using a sleep sack

When babies are cold-stressed, they use energy and oxygen to generate warmth. If skin temperatures drop just one degree from the ideal 97.7° F (36.5°C), a baby's oxygen use can increase by 10 percent. By keeping babies at optimal temperatures, neither too hot or too cold, they can conserve energy and build up reserves. This is especially important when babies are sick or premature.”

Newborns are usually dressed in a gown, shirt, or onesie with a diaper and a hat when in the hospital. They can lose large amounts of heat through their head! Often another layer is added via a blanket (swaddled) or an actual swaddle/sleep sack.

Once baby is home, they should not sleep in a hat as it is unsafe for sleep!

Unfortunately overheating is a risk factor for SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), so the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents and caregivers avoid overbundling, overdressing, or covering a infants face to prevent baby from getting overheated.

So how do you know if they are comfortable? First, consider yourself! Are you comfortable in what you’re wearing? Then your baby may be as well.

Second, check the back of their neck or their chest to determine body temperature (never their hands or feet). 

Signs of being too warm:

  • Sweating

  • Damp hair

  • Heat rash

  • Red cheeks

  • Heavy breathing

Signs of being too cold:

  • Hard to rouse

  • Lethargic

  • Decreased appetite

  • Difficulty eating or not wanting to eat at all

What TOG should you use and how do you layer for different temperatures/TOGs??

This is where we get to be creative with how we dress our little ones for sleep!

Dressing your baby for sleep is based on the ambient room temperature. Here’s how you can use each TOG available from Kyte BABY to dress your little one:

0.5 TOG is rated for 74-78 deg F or 23-26 deg C:

  • Diaper only if it’s above 75 deg F

  • Onesie only if it’s ~75 deg F

  • Long sleeve onesie, romper or footie if it’s ~70-75 deg F

1.0 TOG is rated for 69-73 deg F or 21-23 deg C:

  • Diaper only if it’s above 75 deg F

  • Onesie only if it’s ~70-75 deg F

  • Long sleeve onesie, romper or footie if it’s~ 69-73 deg F

2.5 TOG is rated for 61-68 deg F or 16-20 deg C:

  • Onesie only if it’s ~69-73 deg F

  • Long sleeve onesie, romper or footie if it’s ~61-68 deg F

You can also double up on layers. For example:

  • 1.0 TOG with a short or long sleeve onesie AND a footie if the temperature is lower than 69°F

  • 2.5 TOG with a short or long sleeve onesie AND a footie if the temperature is lower than 61°F

Remember, feel the back of their neck or their chest to determine if they’re the right temperature while sleeping. This isn’t meant to add stress, just to give you a good starting point/idea for how to dress them for sleeping.

For example, our home is warmer during the day so we do a 0.5 TOG sleep bag with a onesie during the day and a 1.0 TOG sleep bag with a onesie or romper at night! As long as he is sleeping well, doesn’t wake up sweaty or overly flushed, then I assume he is comfortable-- or he would tell me if he isn’t!

Also remember that bamboo is 3 degrees cooler than cotton and assists in temperature regulation by allowing heat to escape. 

What is the recommended room temperature?

According to the AAP, the recommended room temperature is between 68-72 degrees F. Obviously this cannot happen everywhere in the world, so consider adding a box fan to help air circulate and of course, layer appropriately to keep your baby comfortable!

how to dress baby

It can be stressful trying to figure out how exactly to dress baby for sleep, but always let your little one lead the way when finding what they sleep best in for temperature and clothing!


Ashley Olson is a certified pediatric sleep consultant, owner of Heaven Sent Sleep, and passionate about helping new parents, experienced parents, desperate and sleep deprived parents form healthy sleep habits for their children.

She has over 3 years of experience in working with families and has completed over 150 hours of coursework plus continuing education related to infant and toddler sleep. The focus of her work is on fostering a routine that grows your bond with your child while improving their sleep habits. She specializes in custom sleep plans and one on one support in changing sleep practices!


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