Getting Ready for Baby: What Should a Newborn Wear to Sleep?

So, you have a bassinet, playpen, crib, and maybe a swing and now you need to stock up on bedtime clothing for your little one.  Do you need different clothes for naps vs bedtime?  Do newborns need a blanket? Should your baby always wear long sleeves to bed?  Let’s take a look at some options for what a newborn should wear to sleep!

Safe Sleep for Infants

When thinking about sleep safety for an infant, remember ABC.

                    A –Alone                    B – Back                    C – Crib

A- ALONE: As an adult, we use blankets to keep ourselves warm in bed when the room is a little chilly. For an infant, loose objects in their sleeping area are not safe. This includes blankets, pillows, toys, and crib bumpers. In fact, to lower the risk of accidental suffocation, blankets shouldn’t be considered until the child reaches 12 months old. Wait until 24 months before giving them a pillow. as recommended by The American Association of Pediatrics). Children don’t fully develop the reflex or ability to turn their heads when facedown or if something were to impair their breathing.

B- BACK: The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that infants sleep on their backs through age 1 to reduce the risk of SIDS. When a baby sleeps on their side (especially before learning to roll from their stomach to their back) they may get stuck in a situation that could be fatal. To avoid this, Always place your baby on their back to sleep. If they roll onto their stomach or side, just gently roll them back into position.

C- CRIB: Babies need to sleep on a firm mattress inside of a crib or bassinet. This goes for nap time and bedtime. It is suggested that your baby’s sleep area be in your own bedroom. It is believed that this can help reduce the chance of SIDS.

Are you or are you planning to cosleep with your baby? Check here for safe cosleeping guidelines.

Baby in crib, father

Temperature Regulation in Newborns

It’s very important to find the sweet spot between too hot and too cold for your baby’s bedroom. either extreme can be very dangerous for your little one. In general, it is recommended that the room be between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit (20-22 Celcius). It doesn’t matter the temperature outside, the room in which your baby sleeps should be kept within this range.

So, If you like your house a little cooler during the day, you may want to use an automatic thermostat with timer settings so that you don’t forget to make the switch at night.

What Should a Newborn Wear to Sleep?

Deciding what your baby should sleep in should start with checking the temperature of the room. Remember, babies are very sensitive to changes in temperature so you want to be sure to find a happy balance between room temperature and clothing.

Here’s the breakdown:

*Under 60°F (16°C): Try to warm up the room before putting the baby down to sleep

*60°F (16°C): Socks, mittens, hat, long sleeve bodysuit, sleeper, and a sleep sack with a TOG of 2

*Between 61°F and 63°F (16°C – 17°C): Socks, long sleeve bodysuit, sleeper, and a sleep sack with a TOG of 2

*Between 64°F and 68°F (18°C – 19°C): Long sleeve bodysuit, sleeper, and a sleep sack with a TOG of 1

*Between 69°F and 70°F (20°C – 21°C): Short sleeve onesie, sleeper, and a sleep sack with a TOG of 1

*Between 71°F and 74°F (22°C – 23°C): Sleeper and a sleepsack with a TOG of 0.5

*Between 75°F and 77°F (24°C – 25°C): Short sleeve onesie and sleepsack with a TOG of 0.5

*78°F(26°C): Short sleeve onesie

*80°F (27°C): diaper only

*Over 80°F (27°C) : Try to cool off the room before putting the baby down to sleep

More on TOG ratings below.

Check out this handy chart.

TOG Ratings

Most sleepsacks (sometimes called sleeping bags) and swaddles will have a TOG rating to help you decide which one to pick for your situation. What is a TOG rating? T O G stands for ‘Thermal Overall Grade’. It is the measure of thermal insulance. In other words it is a measurement that shows how much a fabric insulates. You want to be sure that the sleep sack or swaddle that you are using has an appropriate TOG for the temperature of the room and clothing that your baby is sleeping in. They are also marked with infant clothing sizes. If you choose to use them, be sure to buy the appropriate size for your little one.

Sleep Sacks and Swaddles

The nurses in the hospital or birthing class should be able to should you how to appropriately swaddle your baby. Swaddling helps to cover a baby’s movements and startle reflex. The startle reflex is what makes them move their arms and legs when they hear a noise or get scared. Some swaddles come with flaps and velcro so that you can just fold them over to make your cute little baby burrito. Others are large semi-stretchy materials that you can fold yourself. Some people prefer these so that you can get more use of them as your baby grows. A common material, my personal favorite, is muslin. I like the natural stretch that muslin provides.

A sleep sack is good for a baby that likes to have the freedom to move their arms and legs around when they are asleep. Since every baby has different preferences, you’ll have to try out each one to see what your baby likes best and what will help them (and YOU) get a better night’s sleep. If your little one has a particularly hard time falling and staying asleep you can also look into a weighted sleep sack (talk to your pediatrician first).


Remember the ABC’s for baby sleep. Alone, Back, Crib to keep your baby safe during sleep. Choose their sleep clothes based on the temperature of the room that they are sleeping in. Avoid putting your baby to sleep in a room below 60° F (16°C) or above  80°F (27°C). Use the above information to figure out what is best for your little one so that you will all rest well.


University of Nortre Dame

What is your baby’s sleep gear? Let me know in the comment section below!


  1. Siobhan41

    It is amazing how things have changed since my children were babies. I was taught to let them sleep on their side or back. We used receiving blankets and folded them to swaddle and we didn’t have the sleepsacks for them. I also used a monitor that went under the mattress in the bassinet that if the monitor didn’t detect any movement, breathing included, for 3 seconds an alarm went off. I also always loved the little gowns for them to sleep in, they were so cute! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article. I learned quite a few new things for maybe when I have grandchildren, I will be up to date.

    1. Ally (Post author)

      Yes, things change in the baby world quite often as researchers and doctors learn more. I recently had my 4th son and things have changed since I gave birth just 2 1/2 years ago. Thank you for reading! Come back soon.

      P.S. I agree that the little gowns are super cute and convenient!

  2. Augustine

    Hi Ally, a fantastic post, and I loved reading it. The post was full of amazing tips and the best one was the ABC! It was so detailed and intricate which is so much essential when it comes to keeping the baby comfortable. I can’t thank you enough for this post. God Bless you!

    1. Ally (Post author)

      Thank you! This topic is so important so I appreciate you stopping by.

  3. fityourselfbarre

    I really like the easy to remember ABC tips you give in your article. « Alone, Back, Crib ».  Thank you for the clear advice and info about what the baby should wear at different temperatures. Thank you for providing the F and C. I am French and think « Celsius »!! This is truly helpful !

    1. Ally (Post author)

      Oh great! I’m so glad that the Celsius temperatures came in handy. Haha. Since writing this article I’m actually trying to convert temperatures and teach my kids to recognize both. Come back soon!!

  4. Stephanie

    This has been one of the best and insightful articles I have yet to come around. You have included details that I have never thought about – I am not a mother, but I do have a friend who is almost due and I wanted to see what I could potentially get her new baby. I wasn’t aware that babies shouldn’t have blankets around them, that actually really surprised me. So glad I found this piece with so many helpful tips and tools. 

    1. Ally (Post author)

      Yay!! I’m so glad it helped. Buying gifts is another topic I’ll be covering soon. Come back in a few days and check it out!


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