Dressing babies for sleep time for the chilly winter nights can sometimes be tricky—after all they can't exactly tell you if they're too hot, too cold or just right.
As parents we can either overdo it or unintentionally under dress our babies.
For newborns especially, its important to get this right. Over dressing could potentially run the risk of overheating and under dressing could mean loss of precious calories, especially in the early weeks when you're trying to increase or maintain precious caloric weight gain.
Did you know that newborns use up precious calories to retain body heat?
A newborn’s body temperature goes up and down quickly as the temperature around them changes. Calories that are needed for growth can be spent trying to keep warm or stay cool. Therefore, it's really important to help your newborn keep their body temperature normal by dressing them appropriately.
When does your baby self-regulate body temperature?
Not many know that babies under the age of 15 months haven't yet developed the ability to regulate their body temperature. For babies, feeling cold in the night can be one of the reasons for night wakings. A baby's fight or flight mechanism to feeling cold is to roll-over onto their tummy as a way to protect their internal organs. If your baby is in some form of a swaddle wrap or suit that restricts their arms, this can pose a risk.
There are a few things that should be taken into consideration, like bedding and whether or not baby's room temperature can be maintained. This would certainly make dressing baby for sleep time a lot easier.
Your Baby's Room Temperature
If you are able to, a general guide to maintaining baby's room temp is between 18C to 22C. I personally find 18C a little on the cool side and have had my own little ones rooms at 20C/21C during winter.
It is safe to use a thermostat controlled oil heater set to the appropriate temperature. This ensures your baby's room doesn't drop below the temperature guide. Always position a heater at the farthest part of the room away from the baby's cot, not for anything but just so that heating is distributed from one end of the room and that heat is not concentrated too close to your baby.
You may use a small fan that faces away from your baby's cot and away from the heater, simply to generate air circulation. You might think this is all a bit over the top, but I have lived through this scenario and found this worked for both my babies.
With bedding, it's recommended to use sheets and blankets that are made of natural materials such as cotton or bamboo. The reason for this is that natural materials are breathable and won't cause baby to sweat unlike polyester materials which causes babies to sweat even when cold.
Make sure baby is dressed appropriately. Similarly to bedding, try to use clothing made only of natural materials, cotton or bamboo, to ensure breathability.
Using a tog rated sleeping bag is highly recommended especially for older babies that start to move around in bed. We all know blankets will almost surely come off in the night. A winter sleeping bag serves the same purpose as what a doona does for adults.
You may be interested to know that the tog rating for an adult doona is somewhere around the 16 tog mark. So just think about your baby in a 2 tog rated sleeping bag. They will certainly need a few layers of blankets over them. Firmly tuck blankets under the sides of their bed mattress to ensure blankets don't come off. But never tuck a sleeping bag onto the sides of their cot, as this may cause them to become stuck in a risky position.
What to wear under the SLEEPY HUGS sleep suit ?
In the chilly winter season, it is recommended you layer up your baby for sleep. Dress your baby in a singlet under a gro-suit or wondersuit under the SLEEPY HUGS sleep suit.
As the SLEEPY HUGS is not the equivalent to a winter doona, you have the option to use a couple of layers of cotton blankets on top tucked into the sides of their cot. Alternatively, you can use a 2 TOG rated sleeping bag on top of the SLEEPY HUGS sleep suit.
* Due to the layering, it is not recommended to go any higher than 2 TOG if you are using a sleeping bag on top. However, you may add or remove blankets if needed.
** Make sure baby's room temperature is between 20-21C. As long as baby is dressed in natural cotton or bamboo clothing and their sleeping bag and blankets are also made of natural materials, they will not sweat or overheat.
*** This article was written based on real-life knowledge gained from personal experience.
Always remember, there's no one right answer to everything. Sometime's it takes a bit of trial and error to find what works for you and your baby. As with most things when it comes to your precious babies, please use common sense.