Lessons on how to Dress a Baby for Sleep

Here’s a little tidbit for your reading pleasure: newborns need 16 to 17 hours of sleep a day.  

Another well-known fact: SIDS, sudden infant death syndrome, is a real fear. Two often-cited causes of SIDS are when a newborn rolls onto her stomach or by overheating.

Dressing Baby for Sleep: The Baby Swaddle

Newborns love the warmth of a snug cocoon. And swaddles allow you to wrap your newborn into a cocoon. A swaddle, a cloth wrap, will enable you to safely enclose your newborn’s hands and legs, preventing her from rolling onto her stomach. By the way, a newborn should only be sleeping on her back, not her stomach or side. A swaddle limits the chance for her to roll to her side or stomach.  

When is the time to stop using a swaddle: Once your little one can roll over on her own.  

Dressing Baby for Sleep: The Optimal Baby Sleep Environment

A baby’s sleep environment is crucial. In general, overheating is worse than being chilly. With many room temperature moderating devices available, monitoring a baby’s sleep environment is easy.  

Typically, the ideal baby room temperature should range between 18 to 20 degrees Celsius.  

Since my apartment’s thermostat functionality can be questionable, I decided to take the plunge and make the best investment to date: buying an a/c and heating oscillator fan.  

Bonus feature: with the fan, I don’t have to worry about windows and outdoor temperature fluctuations or even the outdoor noise at all. Windows closed means the white noise sound machine can work it’s magic to drown out the noisy busses whizzing by the building complex.

As well, a circulatory fan can reduce the threat of SIDS by up to 70%.

Dressing Baby for Sleep: What should she wear to bed?

A common mistake (and I’ve done this many times as well), is using a baby’s feet or hands as a gauge of body temperature. Typically, a newborn’s feet and hands are a little cooler to touch as the circulatory system is still developing.  

The better way to quickly measure is to check the nape of her neck, tummy, or back. Is she too warm or sweaty? Scale down the clothing.

A rule of thumb I use: Elle will wear one extra layer of clothing than what I would normally wear to bed. As well, Elle has been pretty vocal in the past if she’s too hot or cold – and that helps me gauge her comfort as well.

As you get comfortable with how to dress your baby snugly for bed, one thing to avoid: the hat. A baby’s head allows her to regulate body temperature, so make sure you don’t put a cap on your baby while she sleeps.

Dressing Baby for Sleep: Upgrading from Swaddle to Sleep Sack

Elle loves her sleep sack. A sleep sack is like a swaddle, except your baby’s arms are free to move (her feet are still within a pocket).  

Unlike the origami skills you need for a good swaddle, sleep sacks are straightforward to use. Easy to throw on and easy to clean. When choosing a sleep sack, you’ll notice a different type of rating system on the labels – the TOG, or thermal overall grade.  

In a nutshell, a thermal overall grade, TOG, compares the thickness of a sleep sack to the number of blankets. Typically, you will want a lower TOG, like 1.2 or less for spring/summer sacks, and a higher TOG rating, 2 to 2.5 for fall/winter.

Do organic sleep sacks matter? For me, organic cotton just felt softer than regular cotton. I did, however, specifically choose the material options which were hypoallergenic, free of chemical dyes and softeners. 

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