As your child grows, you may wonder what is appropriate sleepwear for babies, toddlers, and school-aged children. It can be tricky to find pajamas that tick all the boxes for comfort, safety, and convenience. This article highlights how to choose the best sleepwear for babies and children so your little ones can sleep soundly.

How To Dress Your Baby for Sleep

As a guideline, you should dress your baby in one more layer than what an adult would find comfortable. The American Academy of Pediatrics Trusted Source National Library of Medicine, Biotech Information The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information. See Full Reference (AAP) recommends that babies sleep without a blanket to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), but there’s no need to overbundle.

On a warm night, you can dress your baby Trusted Source American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP and its member pediatricians dedicate their efforts and resources to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. See Full Reference in breathable cotton pajamas, a onesie, or even just a diaper coupled with a lightweight swaddle. On a cooler night, try layering a long-sleeved onesie or footed pajamas with a swaddle or sleep sack over top.

Baby sleepwear that snaps or zips open in the front or on both legs can facilitate diaper changing, but avoid strings, badly placed fasteners, and other elements that pose a risk to your baby. Ideally, the sleeping outfit should be loose and stretchy enough to put on easily, but not so loose that it rides up around your baby’s face or neck. Favor natural materials that won’t irritate your baby’s skin, and choose well-fitting clothing in good condition.

What’s the Difference Between a Sleep Sack and a Swaddle?

A swaddle wraps your baby up like a burrito, whereas a sleep sack (or wearable blanket) is slightly looser and leaves the arms free.

A swaddle can make your newborn feel more secure. It also limits the startle response, helping them sleep more soundly. However, it can also pose a risk because it constricts a child’s movement. If babies roll over onto their stomach while in a swaddle, they may get trapped in that position and be at a higher risk for SIDS Trusted Source National Library of Medicine, Biotech Information The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information. See Full Reference . This is why you should always place a swaddled baby firmly on their back for sleep.

If you do choose to swaddle a newborn Trusted Source American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP and its member pediatricians dedicate their efforts and resources to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. See Full Reference , be sure to leave enough wiggle room to let their hips develop properly. You should also leave a two- to three-finger gap between the swaddle and their chest so they can breathe easily.

Since most babies learn to roll over around the three-month mark, it’s best to eliminate the swaddle around the two-month mark or as soon as your baby starts to roll in either direction. At this point the AAP suggests using a sleeveless wearable blanket, also known as a sleep sack, to keep the baby warm while leaving the hands free to assist in rolling. This helps prevent your baby from getting trapped on their stomach.

Should I Worry About My Baby Being Cold?

To reduce the risk of SIDS it’s better for your baby to be on the cooler side, rather than too hot. Premature babies may have more trouble keeping warm, so it is appropriate to dress them a little more warmly. By contrast, when your baby has a fever Trusted Source Medline Plus MedlinePlus is an online health information resource for patients and their families and friends. See Full Reference , resist the urge to turn up the heat or add extra clothes.

Avoid using hats or anything else that covers the baby’s face or head, as your baby regulates temperature by releasing heat through the head. You can monitor for overheating by touching your baby’s chest or checking for telltale signs such as sweating, flushed cheeks, damp hair, a heat rash, or rapid breathing. Don’t worry if the hands and feet feel colder than the rest of the body.

The AAP does not provide an exact temperature range for the bedroom, but it’s best not to keep the room too hot. If you use a fan, adjust it so that the air doesn’t blow straight at your infant.

 

What Should a Toddler Wear To Bed?

When choosing pajamas for your toddler, opt for soft, breathable, chemical-free fabrics such as cotton. Avoid fleece and other synthetic fabrics that don’t breathe as well. If it’s cold, you can add socks, a onesie, or use footed pajamas. While you want pajamas to fit snugly, they shouldn’t overly restrict movement. Toddlers may have fun picking out their favorite pajamas for the night, so feel free to incorporate this into their bedtime routine.

Most toddlers start using their own blanket between the ages of one and two. Nevertheless, toddlers have a habit of kicking off their blankets, so be sure to dress them accordingly. If you have trouble getting them to keep the covers on, many companies also make sleep sacks for toddlers.

The law requires children’s sleepwear to be either flame-retardant or tight-fitting so it doesn’t pose a fire hazard Trusted Source Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) CPSC is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of the thousands of types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. See Full Reference . You may want to check the tag to ensure the pajamas don’t contain chemical flame retardants. It’s also a good idea to watch out for loose ties, broken zippers, or other choking and strangulation hazards.

School-aged children can wear comfortable pajamas that are appropriate for the temperature. Replace pajamas once they are irreparably torn, threadbare, rough from too much washing, or have loose parts that pose a hazard.

Thanks for the feedback - we're glad you found our work instructive!

Thanks for the feedback - we're glad you found our work instructive!

Submitting your Answer...

References

+7 Sources
  1. TASK FORCE ON SUDDEN INFANT DEATH SYNDROME (2016). SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths: Updated 2016 recommendations for a safe infant sleeping environment. Pediatrics, 138(5), e20162938.

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27940804/
  2. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2016, June 17). Tips for Dressing Your Baby. HealthyChildren.Org., Retrieved January 5, 2021, from

    https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/diapers-clothing/Pages/Dressing-Your-Newborn.aspx
  3. McDonnell, E., & Moon, R. Y. (2014). Infant deaths and injuries associated with wearable blankets, swaddle wraps, and swaddling. The Journal of pediatrics, 164(5), 1152–1156.

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24507866/
  4. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2020, August 17). Swaddling: Is it Safe? HealthyChildren.Org., Retrieved January 5, 2021, from

    https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/diapers-clothing/Pages/Swaddling-Is-it-Safe.aspx
  5. A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. (2022, February 4). When your baby or infant has a fever. MedlinePlus., Retrieved January 5, 2021, from

    https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000319.htm
  6. Ben-Joseph, E.P. (2019, June). Sleep and Your 1- to 2-Year-Old (for Parents) – Nemours KidsHealth., Retrieved January 5, 2021, from

    https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/sleep12yr.html
  7. United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. (n.d.). Children’s Sleepwear Regulations. CPSC.Gov., Retrieved January 5, 2021, from

    https://www.cpsc.gov/Business--Manufacturing/Business-Education/Business-Guidance/Childrens-Sleepwear-Regulations

Learn more about Children and Sleep

Child sleeping

Teeth Grinding in Children

By Danielle Pacheco | January 31, 2023
child sleeping in bed

How Much Sleep Do Babies and Kids Need?

By Eric Suni | January 11, 2023
group of kids sitting on the floor in school

Sleep Strategies for Kids

By Danielle Pacheco | January 11, 2023
A boy struggles to fall asleep in his bed.

Sleep Disorders in Children

By Jay Summer | January 11, 2023

Children and Sleep

By Danielle Pacheco | January 10, 2023

How Blue Light Affects Kids' Sleep

By Alexa Fry | October 18, 2022

When Should Kids Stop Napping?

By Alexa Fry | September 27, 2022

Back to School Sleep Tips

By Danielle Pacheco | August 22, 2022

Bedtime Routines for Children

By Danielle Pacheco | August 22, 2022

Children and Sleep Apnea

By Alexa Fry | June 24, 2022