When shopping for baby clothes, it’s easy to get carried away with the many charming patterns, styles, and fabrics out there. And you’ll be forgiven if you forget about more practical considerations when you’re building your first baby wardrobe. However, to make sure you have everything you need for your baby to be cozy, warm, and protected during their first year and beyond, a small amount of knowledge goes a long way.
In this article, we cover the basics of choosing what your baby should wear at night, based on important considerations like age, temperature suitability, and safety.
What Makes Good Baby Clothing?
When choosing your little one’s clothes, there are some important sleepwear factors you should always consider:
• Age appropriateness
• Temperature suitability
• Fabric choice
Age Appropriate Baby Clothing
When dressing your newborn for bed until the age of one, you’ll be able to choose from a number of different options for sleepwear, including the onesie, sleep sack or pajamas. However, not all baby sleeping products will be suitable for all ages.
The Swaddle (0-3 Months)
Most parents start by wrapping their baby firmly in a thin blanket or sheet, often known as a swaddle, or the baby swaddling position when they’re first born. This has been known to calm babies and offer them a warm, cozy, womb-like experience that helps them to relax and drop off to sleep easily.
You can simply make the swaddle yourself with the blankets you have on hand, or purchase a charming premade swaddle product, such as the Zippy-Swaddle which is carefully tailored for practicality and comfort.
You can use the swaddle for around 3 months; however, when your baby starts to develop stronger neck and back muscles and you see your baby rolling over or pulling themselves free from their covers, you should start to transition your baby away from the swaddle. The danger if you don’t is that your little one could get trapped in a position that is uncomfortable and may restrict their ability to breathe.
When your baby starts rolling over, you should start transitioning your baby away from the swaddle position.
Baby Rompers (0-12 Months)
The baby romper (sometimes called a bodysuit) can come in both short and long-sleeve versions and is a common base layer garment that covers the top half of your baby’s body and is attached between the legs, usually with a handy clip or snap.
These rompers can be used on their own if the temperature is warm enough, or as the foundation of your baby’s night time outfit, with other layers added on top. Generally, you can use the romper from the ages zero to 1 year old.
Baby Sleep Sacks (3-12 Months)
Baby sleep sacks are a great way to keep your baby warm and snug during colder months. It is essentially a sleeping bag designed for infants and has appropriate functionality that makes it easy to take on and off, with comfortable materials and adorable patterns. You can use a baby sleep slack in combination with a baby bodysuit for added warmth.
The Zipadee-Zip (3-18 Months)
The Zipadee-Zip is our variation of the sleep sack (or sleepsuit), which has been specially designed as a swaddle transition product to give infants a greater deal of mobility when they start rolling over or flexing their limbs while giving them the same benefits that come with the swaddle position.
Browse our full collection of Zipadee-Zips for examples of this kind of sleep sack.
Baby Onesies (0-18 Months)
We’ve all seen pictures of sleeping babies in adorable onesies! They’re an iconic sleeping baby garment that offers your child comfort, style, and functionality when they’re sleeping at night. They’re not too dissimilar to the baby bodysuit, but these designs are generally more age universal, meaning you find onesies in various sizes that cater to children from zero to 1 year and beyond.
We’ve got some great onesie options in our very own Zippy-OneZs collection that comes in a range of different sizes and appropriateness for all sorts of ages and weather conditions.
Baby Pajamas (12+ Months)
Generally, pajamas are a bedtime option for babies that are 1 year and above. This is because these items are typically more loose fitting and don’t provide the same kind of insulation and warmth as other items. However, you could find pajama options that are suitable for slightly younger children that come with more close-fitting baby leggings and tights.
Flying Squirrel (12+ Months)
A charming variation on the bodysuit (if we do say so ourselves!) is the flying squirrel, which is a cozy sleeping baby clothing option that combines both top and bottoms with a practical zip down the middle.
What Are Swaddle Transition Products?
Swaddling can help your baby sleep better and reduce their ‘startle’ reaction to changes in their environment while sleeping. Unfortunately, there comes a day when you will have to transition your little one out of the swaddle, whether it’s because they’ve started rolling over and discarding their swaddle layers, or when they show signs that swaddling is becoming uncomfortable.
This is where swaddle transition products such as the Zipadee-Zip are great as they offer your little one added mobility while keeping them as warm and cozy as they would be in the swaddle position.
The ideal temperature for your baby’s room is between 60-70 °F (16-20 °C), however, the time of the year or climate might make this difficult to achieve. A good general rule is to dress your little one in slightly warmer clothing than you would be comfortable wearing in the same room. For instance, add an additional thin layer to ensure they don’t get too cold.
While the items of clothing your baby sleeps in will vary depending on their preferences and what you simply have available, there are some useful guidelines you can follow below.
Light bodysuits (short sleeve) or swaddle garments
Light bodysuits (long sleeve) or swaddle garments
Light bodysuits (long sleeves) and a onesie or swaddle garment
Thick bodysuits (long-sleeve) and a sleeping sack or wearable blanket
Extra clothing and layers
Thick bodysuits (long-sleeve) and a sleeping sack or wearable blanket, and an additional layer for extra coziness
The above is just a guideline only and will vary for different ages and sleeping preferences, so feel free to combine different garments when clothing your baby at night. As long as they’re sufficiently warm and cosey you’ll be fine!
Is My Baby Too Hot?
While keeping your baby warm and toasty is a priority, you don’t want them to overheat. This will obviously cause them some discomfort and stop your baby from sleeping properly at night. Make sure you watch out for the common signs that your baby is too hot.
• Flushed (red) cheeks
• Damp hair
• Hot or clammy skin
• Rapid breathing
Too many layers can make your baby overheat and stop them from sleeping at night, often causing excessive perspiration and heat rashes.
Baby sleeping clothes often come with a tog rating according to the warmth they provide. Choosing the right tog rating to match the time of the year will help you keep your baby’s temperature optimal. Simply check the tog rating of clothes before you purchase them, or if there is no tog indicator, measure the thickness and warmth against other clothing items that have tog labels.
Clothes that come with a tog rating of 2.5 are usually fine for all times of the year, while those that are lower will be more suited to warmer months. And if you’re wrapping your baby up for a cold winter, you can look for baby sleep clothing that comes at 3 togs and above. Just make sure they’re not overheating once you’ve wrapped them up all snug and tight.
Best Baby Sleep Product Materials
As well as being warm or cool enough, you should also choose clothing materials that are sensitive to your baby’s skin and breathable. Here are some popular recommendations, and fabrics to avoid.
Good Materials for Baby Sleep Clothes
The most common baby fabric, cotton is soft to the touch, natural, absorbent and affordable.
Modacrylic blends - a soft, strong and resilient cotton blend.
Polyester blends - dries quickly, wrinkles less and is often cheaper.
Spandex - offers additional stretch and comfort.
Luxurious initial comfort, but harder to maintain and more expensive.
Even more breathable than cotton, this fabric helps regulate temperatures to keep your baby cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
An environmentally friendly and versatile alternative to cotton.
Great for layering and baby outwear, but often too hot for indoor and sleep clothing.
Materials to Avoid for Baby Sleep Clothing
For children who have sensitive skin or eczema, materials that are synthetic, including certain cotton blends can increase itchiness and perspiration.
Although natural is better, wool can be far too rough and scratchy on your little one’s delicate skin.
Fibers in fur can easily be pulled out and ingested, which poses a choking hazard. In addition, some children may have an undiagnosed allergy to certain types of fur.
Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) is an unfortunate risk during your baby’s first year. This can be caused by suffocation or other unknown reasons. We’ve listed below the best practices for safe baby sleeping clothing to avoid SUID and reduce suffocation risk.
Check the temperature of your baby’s room before they sleep each night
Dress babies in clothing that is too loose or garments that cover their faces and make it harder for them to breath
Clean your baby’s clothes regularly and keep them free of germs or harmful bacteria
Cover your baby in too many blankets and layers
Check for things like sweating and rashes to see if your baby is too hot
Enforce certain sleeping products and clothes if your baby looks uncomfortable or distressed
Open windows and doors to help air circulate
Leave too many toys or objects inside the crib while your baby sleeps
Make sure there isn’t too much room between your baby’s mattress and the side of the crib
Most baby sleep clothes are designed to be comfortable and cozy, but sometimes dangerous items slip through into baby clothing collections, which can cause your child discomfort without you even realizing, such as zippers, snap buttons and elastics that are in the wrong place. If your baby’s clothes are too small, these features could also be painful against your baby’s skin. Clothing that features a layer of fabric between any metal clips or zippers will provide the best guarantee of comfort.
Also, check whether your child is struggling to free themselves from their swaddle position. If they are, and they seem distressed when you try to wrap them up as usual, they may be ready to be transitioned out of the swaddle into other baby sleeping products, like the Zipadee-Zip!
Sometimes zips, clips and buttons that are badly placed can hurt your baby’s skin and cause discomfort. Check for these items when you purchase clothes for your baby.
The first few times you change a baby's clothes can be quite frustrating. Not only is it a struggle to get their tiny limbs through the necessary sleeves, but your baby may cry in protest through the whole process. Having clothes that are built for practicality will help you a great deal in this area. Here’s a quick practicality checklist you can use:
• Check to see that the clothing has a full snap opening at the bottom or a long zipper on the front.
• Check that clothes designed to be pulled over the head have a large enough neck opening (stretchy also helps) so that you don’t have to squash your baby’s face too much when you pull the item over their face.
• Check that all your baby’s clothing is machine washable. You might take this for granted and be surprised when you encounter certain items in their wardrobe that need to be washed by hand or dry cleaned.
Final Baby Clothes Buying Advice
Finally, when buying appropriate baby sleep clothing for your little one, at whatever age they are, there are some final pieces of advice you should keep in mind. The first is, make sure you opt for quantity over expensive style choices. New babies are messy, so you’ll need plenty of alternatives and replacements for each baby clothing item.
Also, despite any pre-birth eagerness you might have to fill up your baby’s wardrobe, don’t buy too many newborn clothes or clothes for any particular age. Your baby will soon grow out of each baby size so it’s better to spread your collection wisely throughout their development stages.
Finally, make sure you buy clothes that are slightly larger than your baby’s current age. You can easily fold or roll up garments to make them fit, while smaller clothes will be useless when your baby goes through a sudden growth spurt.