Dressing a baby for nighttime sleep can be a surprisingly stressful task: will he be too hot in this or too cold in that? Since professional advice across the board warns against putting a blanket over an infant to sleep, deciding on the right sleepwear is the only factor you can safely control. So with warmer days on the horizon, what do you need to stock your baby’s closet with so they can sleep comfortably?
Creating The Optimal Sleep Environment In The Summer
Before you figure out what baby should sleep in, it’s important to consider the temperature of the room they’re in, whether they’re in their own nursery or still bunking with mom and dad. “In the summer time, attempt to keep the sleep area 68 degrees Fahrenheit to 72 degrees Fahrenheit,” says Lydia Yeager, CPNP-PC and Director of Care Management at Ryan Health, in an interview with Romper. If temperatures are below that range, she says the baby may wake more frequently in the night. In hot temperatures well above that range, there is amore serious issue. “Studies have shown that when babies become overheated, they are at increased risk for SIDS,” Yeager says.
Of course, it’s simply not always possible to keep their room within that optimal temperature range. If baby’s sleeping environment is well below or above that, you may need to add or subtract layers. Most monitors have a handy temperature gauge so you can stay informed about the temperature in baby’s room at all hours of the night.
Dressing Your Baby For Safe Sleep In The Summer
Jeanne Faulkner, a nurse and host of Common Sense Pregnancy and Parenting Podcast, tells Romper that a good rule of thumb is to dress your baby in one layer more than you'd wear if you were sleeping in the same room. Faulkner assures parents that on warm nights in rooms without air conditioning, a single onesie is likely enough to keep baby comfortable. If the room is air conditioned, of course, another layer will likely be called for.
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When you’re selecting your infant’s sleepwear, there is one other safety factor to keep in mind. “Make sure there are no strings, ties, or tags from the pajamas that could possible be choking hazards,” says Yeager. “Additionally, be sure not to overdress your baby and that their face or head is not covered by any clothing.”
Swaddling In The Summer
If your baby is a newborn, you might still be choosing to swaddle to help contain their startle reflex, in which case lightweight swaddling blankets are popular and easy to find. Because these swaddles add an extra layer, you may want to skip the footie pajamas and instead dress baby in a lightweight, short-sleeved bodysuit to ensure they don’t get overly warm.
Once baby starts showing any signs of rolling, it’s time to drop the swaddle. “When babies roll on their stomach while swaddled, they may not be able to return to the back position, and the airway can become obstructed, leading to suffocation,” explains an article from the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality.
How To Tell If Baby Is Too Warm
If you think you might be piling too much material on your baby, you're not alone. Heather Turgeon, author of The Happy Sleeper: The Science-Backed Guide to Helping Your Baby Get a Good Night's Sleep- Newborn to School Age, wrote for Babble, "One of the most common missteps we see in sleep consultations is people overdressing their babies. There’s a misconception that warmer equals sleepier, but the opposite tends to be true."
Whether you’re in the hottest part of summer or you’re blasting the heater in the dead of winter, it’s important to make sure your baby isn’t getting overheated. “Sweating, rapid breathing, wet hair, heat rash, and your child feeling too warm are signs that they may be too warm,” says Yeager. As previously mentioned, increased temperatures have been linked to an increased risk of SIDS, so staying vigilant is about more than simply comfort.
In a warm room, it can seem strange — or even neglectful! — to put baby down in minimal clothing without a blanket. Turgeon noted that while adults are accustomed to being fully covered while they sleep (and tend to project that preference onto their babies), infants don't know the difference and don't mind having their toes and legs exposed in appropriate temperatures. She likened it to our preference for using pillows, which babies are perfectly comfortable doing without.
Dressing your baby for summer sleep should be determined by your regional climate, temperature of your house, and presence of an air conditioner, so there's no one-size-fits-all answer for every family. But according to the professionals: when in doubt, less is more. As overheating can be dangerous for babies, you should err on the side of fewer layers — you can always add more if your baby seems chilly or uncomfortable.
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