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What to Dress Baby in For Sleep: The Complete Guide on How to Dress Newborn for Sleep

Every decision feels monumental as a new parent, especially when it comes to your newborn’s sleep habits. The hush of a dimmed room, the gentle lullabies, and the soft fabrics brushing against the baby's skin all set the stage for those precious moments of peace. 

But in this tender atmosphere, there's an undercurrent of uncertainty: what should baby wear to sleep? Sleep attire goes way beyond fashion - it plays a vital role in ensuring the safety, comfort, and health of our little ones. 

And while figuring out how to dress baby for sleep, we’re here to demystify the topic for you and help you feel confident dressing baby for sleep.

From choosing between a sleep sack vs swaddle to figuring out what to wear under sleep sack or swaddle, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to dress newborn for sleep - first, here’s why this isn’t something to take lightly.

Why Dressing Baby For Sleep Isn’t Something to Take Lightly

Maybe you already realize the significance of your child’s sleep attire in their safety and comfort - but if not, here’s what you need to know…

Safety Concerns

Safety always reigns supreme when it comes to dressing baby for sleep. This is especially true at bedtime when you won’t be able to watch them through the night.

  • Temperature Regulation: Babies, particularly newborns, have a limited ability to regulate their body temperature. Dressing them too warmly can lead to overheating, a risk factor associated with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Conversely, underdressing them may result in the baby becoming too cold, leading to hypothermia. It's a delicate balance, one that requires attention to both room temperature and what's touching baby's skin.
  • Reducing SIDS Risks: The American Academy of Pediatrics cites that using items like loose blankets in a baby's crib can increase the risk of SIDS. Sleep sacks, a safer alternative, eliminate the need for loose blankets, providing warmth without the risks associated with conventional blankets.
  • Avoiding Allergens & Irritants: Not all fabrics are created equal. Certain materials might contain allergens or harsh chemicals that could irritate a baby's sensitive skin, potentially leading to rashes or allergic reactions. This emphasizes the importance of opting for hypoallergenic, soft, and breathable materials, ensuring baby's skin remains unharmed and at ease.

The Comfort Factor

A comfortable baby is a happy, restful baby. Figuring out what to dress baby in for sleep can help you both get a good night’s rest:

  • Freedom of Movement: Babies require sleepwear that allows for freedom of movement as they grow and start to move more. Restrictive clothing might not only disrupt their sleep but could also hinder their natural physical development. The right sleep attire should be snug but not tight, allowing baby's limbs to move freely.
  • Sensory Sensitivity: Babies are keenly attuned to their environments. A tag that's slightly scratchy, a seam that's a tad rough, or fabric that's not breathable can cause significant discomfort for them. Such irritations might not just disturb their sleep but can also affect their mood and overall well-being.
  • Emotional Comfort: Believe it or not, the way a baby is dressed can also play a role in their emotional comfort. Swaddles, for example, mimic the tight embrace of the womb, providing a sense of security. Nested Bean's swaddles enhance this feeling with gentle weights, designed to emulate a parent's reassuring touch. This comforting sensation can significantly ease a baby's transition from awake to asleep, providing emotional solace in a vast new world. It’s a great infant sleep aid for addressing baby separation anxiety.

Choosing the right sleepwear for your baby is not just about aesthetics or tradition. It's a critical decision that impacts both their safety and comfort. That being said, what should baby wear to sleep?

What to Dress Baby in For Sleep: Your Guide on How to Dress Newborn For Sleep

You know the role that dressing baby for sleep plays in keeping your child comfy, cozy, and safe. So, let’s cover what to dress baby in for sleep starting with the best weighted sleepwear to help you maintain a consistent newborn sleep schedule - a Nested Bean swaddle.


If you’re a brand new or expecting parent you may be wondering…what is a baby swaddle? And, why should I swaddle my newborn at night

Our guide covers why swaddling baby is a great asset in your parenthood arsenal. But, swaddling has been practiced for centuries, tracing back to ancient civilizations. Essentially, swaddling involves wrapping your baby tightly in a blanket or cloth, ensuring they feel snug and secure. Here’s why parents do it:

  • Mimics the Womb: The snug fit of a swaddle mirrors the environment of the womb, providing newborns with a familiar feeling of warmth and security.
  • Reduces Startle Reflex: Babies, especially newborns, have a moro reflex that makes them feel as if they're falling. A tight swaddle keeps their arms in place, minimizing disruptions caused by this reflex.
  • Enhanced Sleep Quality: Babies tend to sleep deeper and for longer durations when swaddled with fewer disturbances. This means you sleep better, too!

Our Zen Swaddle® isn't just any swaddle. It combines the benefits of traditional swaddling with the power of touch. The lightly weighted newborn swaddle has pads on the chest and sides to simulate the feeling of your touch, providing extra comfort and reassurance to your little one.

But, we have other types of swaddles too - like our zipper swaddle, bamboo swaddle, or arms up swaddle. You can learn about which is right for you in our blog or read about how to swaddle with arms up. Or, find out what makes Nested Bean the best transition swaddle.

But, despite the benefits of swaddling, you’ll eventually need to make the swaddle transition to a sleep sack instead…

Sleep Sacks

Transitioning to a sleep sack becomes essential as your baby grows and starts to move more. Sleep sacks are wearable blankets designed to keep your baby warm without the risks associated with loose blankets.

We have resources on when to stop swaddling baby along with a thorough breakdown of why you should use a sleep sack. That being said, here is a summary of the most compelling benefits of sleep sacks:

  • Transitional Tool: As babies grow out of swaddles but aren't yet ready for blankets, sleep sacks bridge that gap, ensuring a safe and snug sleep environment.
  • Safety First: Sleep sacks are designed without any loose ends, reducing the risk of suffocation or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) linked with traditional blankets.
  • Temperature Regulation: A sleep sack ensures that babies remain warm throughout the night without overheating. The sleeveless design allows for free circulation of air, ensuring a comfortable temperature.
  • Mobility Without Restrictions: Babies can stretch and kick as they please inside a sleep sack, ensuring their physical development is uninhibited. This is perfect for a self soothing baby.

Our Zen Sack™ stands out in the world of sleep sacks. Not only does it maintain the warmth and safety standards, but its gently weighted center provides the comforting sensation of your touch, even when you're not around. 

It’s made from ultra-soft, breathable fabric and will prove to be an invaluable addition to any baby's nighttime routine. We also have a bamboo sleep sack or winter sleep sack

You can learn about when to stop using sleep sack and how to transition from sleep sack to blanket for when the time comes in our blog if you’d like. But let’s talk about how to dress baby for sleep in layers. 

Layering Basics

Figuring out what to dress a newborn in for sleep isn’t just a matter of choosing a swaddle or sleep sack. You need to figure out the layering side of things.

Choosing the right layers for your baby's sleep is crucial. Not only does it ensure they remain comfortably warm, but it also safeguards them from overheating, a risk factor for SIDS.

Start by considering the temperature of baby’s room. A nursery thermometer can be a handy tool. Ideally, the baby’s room should be between 68°F and 72°F. From there, you can follow these tips:

  • Breathable Fabrics: Always choose materials that allow the skin to breathe. Cotton is an excellent choice, being both soft and breathable.
  • Adjust According to Weather: Consider a light onesie beneath the swaddle or sleep sack in colder months. A simple diaper might be sufficient in warmer months.
  • Avoid Over-Bundling: While you want your baby to be warm, over-bundling can lead to overheating. Always check the baby's neck or back for sweating, a sign you might need to remove a layer.

It may take a bit of trial and error to figure out how to dress a newborn for sleep in layers. Your child will let you know if they’re uncomfortable pretty early on and you can make adjustments as needed.


The decision to wear socks or go barefoot can be perplexing when it comes to those tiny toes. While socks can provide extra warmth, there’s always the chance they'll be kicked off. Plus, if you’re using a sleep sack or swaddle, socks might become redundant, especially if the sleep sack has built-in feet.

There are also footed pajamas you can consider dressing baby for sleep. They provide consistent warmth throughout, ensuring little toes remain as warm as the rest of the body.

And with no loose socks to come off, there’s no risk of them becoming potential hazards in the crib.


Dressing a baby's head for sleep is a topic of much discussion and often surrounded by myths. Contrary to popular belief hats aren't recommended for indoor sleep. Babies regulate their body temperature through their head and face. Wearing a hat can disrupt this natural process, potentially leading to overheating.

There are other risks associated with headwear in your newborn bedtime routine, too. Accessories like headbands or bows might look adorable, but they pose a strangulation risk and should be avoided during sleep times. Safety always trumps style when it comes to baby sleep.

More Tips on Creating a Safe, Comfortable Sleeping Environment For Your Newborn

Understanding what to dress a newborn in for sleep is paramount to keeping your child safe and ensuring you both sleep well. Now that you know how to dress baby for sleep, let’s offer a few more tips on creating a comfortable, safe atmosphere to help baby sleep through the night.

Optimal Room Temperature

The best temperature range for a baby's room is between 68°F and 72°F. This range ensures a cozy atmosphere without the risk of overheating.

Investing in a room thermometer can help you consistently monitor and maintain the right temperature. If you find the room getting too cold or too warm, consider using a heater or cooler with an adjustable thermostat for precise control.

Safe Sleeping Surface

A firm mattress is vital for newborn sleep safety. Soft surfaces can conform to a baby's face and increase the risk of suffocation.

Pillows, toys, and loose bedding may seem like they add comfort, but they pose suffocation risks. The crib should be as bare as possible. 

Always use a well-fitted crib sheet that won’t come loose. The materials should be skin-safe and comfortable to keep your baby cool even on warm nights.

Positioning Baby

Even if your baby sleeps on stomach by preference, it’s best to try and get them to sleep on their back. 

This position has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Only let your baby sleep on their side or stomach when they can consistently roll over on their own.

Monitoring Your Baby

A quality baby monitor allows you to keep an eye (and ear) on your little one without being in the room. This ensures you can respond quickly if needed and also get some rest yourself.

Watch for signs like rubbing eyes, yawning, or fussiness. These can indicate your baby is ready for a nap or bedtime, ensuring they aren't overtired when placed in the crib.

Routine Rituals

A good ritual becomes a positive sleep association that will make it way easier to put your child down for naps or bedtime. This can be as simple as a bath followed by a story or lullaby. 

This signals to your baby that it's time to wind down. It can make bedtime smoother as your baby will understand what’s coming next.

Final Thoughts on How to Dress Baby For Sleep

There you have it - how to dress baby for sleep. Dressing baby for sleep is more than just a nightly routine - it's an intricate balance of safety, comfort, and warmth. 

The right attire can be the difference between a restless night and a peaceful slumber for both you and your little one. 

Remember, as seasons change and your baby grows, so will their nighttime attire needs. Always prioritize safety, and don't hesitate to adjust based on your baby's unique comfort levels.

If your baby fights sleep or you find that your newborn won't sleep through the night, it could be their sleep attire. That’s why we put together this guide on how to dress baby for sleep. We hope it helps you feel confident in what to dress a newborn in for sleep.

You can learn more about 10 month sleep regression, 4 month sleep regression, 6 month sleep regression, baby sleeping more than usual, wake windows by age, how to help a teething baby sleep, baby cries meaning, how to hold a newborn, sleep regression in babies, or when to start sleep training in our blog.

Otherwise, head over to Nested Bean to ensure the coziest, safest night for your precious little one. You know what to dress baby in for sleep, and it’s just a few clicks away in our online storefront.

From snug swaddles to versatile sleep sacks, give your baby the best night's sleep they deserve. Make bedtime better tonight. 

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