The best baby sleepwear is always weather appropriate and designed with the knowledge that infants are not as adaptable as adults to temperature change.
As well as losing heat much faster, they’re not yet able to self-regulate their core temperature. This is especially the case for premature babies, or those born with much lower body fat.
By keeping your child at optimal temperatures with the right baby sleepwear (neither too hot nor too cold) you’ll be helping them conserve their energy, achieve better sleep, and generally stay healthy and happy.
Dangers of Cold Weather for Babies
Adapting to temperature changes requires a lot of energy. And this is something that is in precious demand for infants. As well as depleting their resources faster, there are several health troubles that arise more often in the winter and colder climates.
- Viruses that cause colds and flu circulate more commonly in the winter and require parents to be vigilant about hygiene and their children’s immune systems.
- Some children suffer from winter nosebleeds, caused by low humidity, both in cold outdoor air and heated indoor air, which can cause the delicate membrane lining nasal passages to become dry and cracked.
- Overtiredness caused by faster energy loss during winter can lead to unhappy babies who are less able to process the world around them, increasing fussiness and disrupting healthy sleep patterns.
- Hypothermia can develop in extreme cases where a child's temperature falls below normal due to prolonged exposure to cold. This can impact the nervous system and prevent vital organs from working properly.
- Frostbite, or baby frostnip, happens when the skin and outer tissues become frozen, which tends to happen on the fingers, toes, ears, and nose.
Adapting to temperature changes requires a lot of energy, which is in precious demand for infants.
How to Check If Your Baby is Too Cold (Or Hot)
In addition to actually making sure the temperature in your child’s room is optimal, it’s sometimes important to do some direct checks on your baby to see if they are too cold or hot. You can then alter their outfits based on this.
Like adults, our current health, energy levels, and the clothes we wear can all lead to fluctuations in body temperature.
Check Skin Temperature
One of the easiest ways to tell if your baby is too cold or hot is by touching the nape of their neck with your hand to see if it is sweaty from perspiration, or cold to the touch.
The feet and hands are also good indicators of temperature and they should never feel “extremely” cold, or much colder than other parts of their body.
Sometimes babies that are cold will cry and generally seem discontent. However, you must also watch out for them being unusually still or less active than normal. This, together with rapid breathing, are signs that your baby might be too cold.
Too Red or Blue?
When babies are too hot, they may have flushed cheeks and look like they're sweating heavily. This could be a result of you wrapping them up too tightly, or putting the heaters on full blast. However, you might also see a colour change when your baby is too cold. This can appear as bluish or blotchy skin tone, especially on the hands or feet.
Use a Thermometer
Finally, a good thermometer is a fast way to give you an accurate reading of your baby’s temperature. It’s always useful to have one on hand and most pharmacies and large supermarkets will sell them.
A normal temperature for a child will range from 97 degrees Fahrenheit to 100.4 degrees F, according to the AAP. Anything over this threshold could be considered a possible fever and requires attention from parents to reduce their baby’s temperature, or contact a doctor.
Your baby’s feet or hands should never feel “extremely” cold, or much colder than other parts of their body.
Layers are great for babies and the best baby sleepwear wardrobes include plenty of items that can be added or subtracted whenever necessary.
In colder temperatures, layers will trap warmth between items of clothing, increasing the overall insulation. They can also be easily taken off to adapt to changing room temperatures, compared to having one single, thick piece of clothing that may be too stifling if the temperature rises slightly.
Layers of cotton and synthetics are also much less heavy and can make it easier for your baby to move around and stretch their limbs, in contrast to things like big heavy woolen jumpers that are great for outdoors, but not so great for sleeping at night.
How to Use Layering
- Start with a baby romper - Rompers, also known as baby bodysuits, are great base layers as they’re simple, comfortable, and lightweight. They cover the chest and back and can keep the chill off.
- Add layers as needed - The number of layers you need to add will depend on how hot or cold it is. Leggings, extra t-shirts, onesies, and more can all be added to vary the level of warmth and coziness.
- Consider accessories - We wouldn't recommend letting your baby sleep in a hat due to the risk of it falling off and blocking your babies airways, but you might also like to add some other accessories on extra cold days, like thick socks or baby mittens.
- Remove layers as temperature rises - Check your baby’s temperature regularly and remember to take off additional layers as it gets warmer. Simply by removing socks or mittens you can help regulate their temperature without changing their whole outfit and waking them up while they’re sleeping soundly.
For some more advice on how to choose the best baby sleepwear for your little one, take a look at our popular blog: What Should My Baby Wear to Sleep? — The Right Products for the Right Time.
Choose the Right Materials for Cold Weather
Fabrics play an important part in how warm or cool baby sleepwear is. Also, you’ll want to choose materials that are sensitive to your baby’s skin and breathable, regardless of the season. Here are some popular recommendations for the best baby sleepwear.
Cotton is soft to the touch, natural, absorbent and affordable. It’s a great base layer for rompers and onesies.
Cotton and synthetic blends are a great way to benefit from the natural suitability of cotton with some added advantages, such as being stronger, more resilient and stretchier.
Cashmere has a luxurious comfort and is just as warm as it is breathable, but is generally harder to maintain and more expensive.
Hemp is an environmentally friendly and versatile alternative to cotton.
Great for layering and baby outwear, fleece is perfect for winter and cozy indoor sleeping.
While wool has the advantage of being incredibly warm, it can tend to be more “scratchy” on the skin so it’s often more appropriate for outerwear than clothing your baby sleeps in.
What Are TOG Ratings?
You’ll often see your baby clothes come with a TOG rating, which indicates how much warmth they provide. Choosing the right TOG rating can help you keep your baby’s temperature at the right level for the weather.
Clothes that come with a TOG rating of 2.5 and above are usually fine for colder months (as long as you’re layering), while those that are lower will be more suited to warmer months.
If there’s no TOG rating, don’t worry, you can simply measure the thickness and warmth against other clothing items that have TOG labels, or use your common sense based on how thick the material feels.
If you want to know how you can find and purchase the best baby sleepwear for your child online, you might enjoy our post: The Ultimate Guide to Buying Baby Clothes Online.
Shop the Best Baby Sleepwear Products for Winter
Most parents will start wrapping their baby in a thin blanket or sheet, known as a swaddle, almost as soon as they’re born. This is a great way of keeping them calm and cozy in a womb-like environment that can aid their ability to sleep.
You can make the swaddle yourself with warm yet breathable blankets you have on hand, or purchase a specially premade swaddle product, like our Zippy Swaddle. This comes with baby-friendly adjustments and tailoring to add practicality and comfort.
You can use the swaddle for around 3 months, but, when you see your baby rolling over or pulling themselves free from their covers, you should start to transition them away from this sleeping garment to reduce the risk of them getting trapped in a position that is uncomfortable or restricts their ability to breathe properly.
Also, it’s worth noting that according to the American Association of Pediatrics, swaddling can increase the chance that your baby will overheat, so avoid letting your baby get too hot inside their swaddle wrappings and regularly check their temperature.
What Are Swaddle Transition Products?
There will come a day when you will have to transition your little one out of the swaddle, whether it’s because they’ve started rolling over, or when they show signs that swaddling is no longer comfortable for them.
Not removing the swaddle past a certain age can also increase the risk of SIDS as well as stop your baby’s limbs from developing naturally, so it’s best not to get too used to the swaddle.
Fortunately, swaddle transition products like the Zipadee-Zip are a great alternative as they offer your little one added mobility while keeping them warm and cozy. For more information about the Zipadee-Zip, take a look at the science behind our most popular baby sleepwear item.
There will come a day when you will have to transition your little one out of the swaddle.
When to Use a Baby Blanket?
The first thing you think of when you want to add some warmth to your baby’s crib during winter might be a nice warm blanket, but this is actually advised against due to the risk it can cause of suffocation and tangling. In fact, all kinds of crib accessories are best avoided until your baby is older, such as stuffed toys, pillows, comforters, and any loose sheets.
There’s no official age that’s considered completely safe to use a blanket in your baby’s crib, but most doctors will agree that soft bedding and crib accessories won’t pose much danger past the age of 12 months, or whenever your child has developed strong mobility skills.
Best Baby Practices for Winter and Colder Climates
- Keep your doorways closed - To regulate temperature, keep your windows and doors closed. This will also help you to save money on your heating bills and rely less on putting your radiators during colder months.
- Reduce skin dryness and itching - Cold temperatures, the lack of humidity, and recirculated air can lead to dry and itchy skin, as well as nosebleeds. To avoid this, consider using a humidifier in your home and applying moisturiser to your child’s skin after they’ve had a bath.
- Implement quick warming techniques - If you see your baby shivering, or notice any of the other signs of coldness, sometimes it’s better to implement some quick warming techniques before you change their entire outfit, which could cause them to lose more heat. For instance, try holding them close to your chest or gently rubbing their hands or toes between your hands.
- Check for temperature fluctuations - Your home’s thermostat might give you a general idea of the temperature, but each room might vary in terms of its specific warmth, especially if windows or doors are left open. It’s good practice to have a separate indoor thermometer in your baby’s room.
Happy and Safe During Winter Weather
The idea of choosing the best baby sleepwear for colder weather (especially during your little one’s first winter) might seem daunting, but you’ll soon learn to watch for the important signs of coldness or overheating and adapt your approach naturally as and when you need to.
As long as you have a good selection of layers you can add or take off as the temperature changes, you should be able to easily keep your child warm, but not too hot. And assuming that you’re able to avoid items that are too thick or heavy, you shouldn’t find it hard to find hundreds of great baby sleep garments that can form part of a completely healthy and suitable winter wardrobe!