Wondering about your baby's temperature is a parental rite of passage. If only your little one could pipe up and say, "Hey! I'm too hot in here!" it would be so much easier to know whether she was hot or cold, especially because overheating can be a serious health risk for your baby. Changing seasons or fluctuations in heating or air conditioning can make figuring out if your baby is dressed properly even more tricky, which is why many parents might begin to wonder, do babies need sleep sacks while wearing fleece pajamas in the colder months? It's certainly tricky to know if that combination is too many layers for your little one but it's important to figure out.
There are several ways to tell whether your baby needs a sleep sack while wearing fleece pajamas, including assessing the temperature of the room, the baby's age, and how many layers of clothing an adult would need to feel comfortable in that temperature. Some parents choose to have their babies wear sleep sacks to keep them warmer at night before they're at an age when it's safe to put blankets in their beds. The National Sleep Foundation explains that babies should not have loose blankets in their cribs until they are at least 1-year-old because of the danger of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and suffocation. Sleep sacks can take the place of blankets without posing the same SIDS risk. However, another risk factor for SIDS is overheating, which makes deciding whether to add another layer, especially a cozy, fleecy one, to your baby before bed a little perplexing.
Let's start with the ideal temperature for a baby's room, which is between 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Parents. You might like to sleep in an icy tundra, but your baby will be most comfortable and safest at that moderate temperature. Next, you should assess what you're wearing to stay comfortable in that temperature. Pediatrician Dr. Mark Widome shared a simple trick for figuring out how to dress your baby: "Count the numbers of layers of clothing that you are wearing to stay comfortable and add one more layer for your baby’s comfort." So, if you're wearing a fleece over a t-shirt, your baby might be perfectly comfortable. However, if you're wearing a tank top and your baby is wearing three layers of fleece, he's likely to be too warm.
Additionally, Dr. Widome suggested checking both the baby's toes and tummy to assess whether they are too hot or too cold. The baby's tummy should be warm and their toes should be a little cooler if they are at a reasonable body temperature. If your baby's tummy and toes are both warm or even hot, you should remove a layer. Alternatively, if your baby's tummy and toes are both chilly, maybe add a onesie underneath his jammies to add a partial layer of warmth that won't overheat him. It's always a good idea to check your baby this way when you're concerned about whether they might be too warm.
One thing to keep in mind when you're thinking about bundling your baby up for bedtime is that your baby's body temperature needs to be a little lower at night in order to promote good, deep sleep. Nicole Johnson, of the Baby Sleep Site, explains that "At night, when the sun goes down, our body temperature starts to drop and Melatonin (a hormone) is released in our bodies inducing sleep." She reasons that if your baby is too warm in the night, he or she might be more likely to wake because their body temperature isn't conducive to sleep.
Because everyone's body temperatures are slightly different, it's important to monitor your baby regularly. If your baby looks flushed or her tummy and hands are hot, she doesn't need a sleep sack over those fleece pajamas.
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