Who would have thought that keeping a baby warm at night could be a challenge? Whether your baby sleeps alongside you or in their crib, it’s important to keep them warm.
In this article I’ll even share a few tips to keep a baby warm at night without a blanket (but it’s strongly recommended to use one).
When a baby is born a mother goes into hyper drive.
There isn’t a moment from that time forward that she does not hear every squeak, hiccup, burp or cry. In the middle of the night, the slightest movement will wake a new mother.
The complete and utter responsibility for another human is a big step to take in life – and a newborn is helpless without someone to care for them.
A mother’s fear that a baby is going to get cold in the middle of the night, wake up and cry or become sick, is constant. As a result, a new mother might over-wrap and over-cover their newborn making them overheated and uncomfortable.
There are 5 easy ways to keep a baby warm at night and I’ll share them below!
My Learning Experience With Keeping A Baby Warm At Night
With my first child, “acrylic sleepers” had just become the latest way to dress your baby for bed. Unfortunately, at about the same time, laws were passed against flammable clothing for children (which is a good thing).
However, it meant that suddenly, plain cotton clothing was not “legal”. Sleepwear had to be coated with something non-flammable and that usually meant acrylic pajamas.
As a new mom I thought is was great because a sleeper made of acrylic is like dressing my child in a blanket. I thought my newborn would never get cold, wake up and cry but the fact that acrylic is essentially plastic did not occur to me.
Coincidentally my family was visiting Sweden during Christmas. As you can imagine, it’s cold in Sweden in December.
I was excited I had a beautiful pink acrylic sleeper for my 1 ½ year old toddler. Funny thing was, in Sweden they heat their homes, just like in the U.S.A. (check out my baby dedication guide).
My daughter didn’t need to be so warm. She was sweating and my Swedish friend said, “Why are you dressing her like that? Don’t you know acrylic is bad for children? It is unhealthy because their skin can’t breathe and they get too hot!”
Truth be told, while California was making cotton sleepers illegal, Sweden was making acrylic sleepers illegal!
Do Babies Tend To Be Cold After Being Born?
During a typical pregnancy, babies spend 9 months in the womb. You would think that since babies are used to the womb (and the womb is a pretty warm place) that after being born they would need a lot of blankets.
But remember, babies are not cold-blooded. Their human bodies are just like ours. Normal at 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
Womb temperature is the same temperature as the mother’s body and the same temperature of a newborn baby.
Communication: A Constant Challenge Of Keeping A Baby Warm At Night
It is correct that babies can’t verbally tell you how they feel. They may cry when they are uncomfortable.
As a responsible parent, you have to be aware of the non-verbal signs in order to tell what they are trying to say.
- Are they wet?
- Are they sweating?
- Do they need to burp?
- Are they flailing their arms and legs and trying to move?
It’s up to you to know how your baby is feeling. If you’re using disposable diapers at least you don’t have to worry about safety pins being open like I did!
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Here is a helpful hint: Make sure that your diapers are on securely and correctly. It has been my experience that leaking diapers are the cause of many middle-of-the-night problems.
No one likes sleeping in a wet bed. Not even babies!
5 Easy Ways To Keep A Baby Warm At Night In A Crib
1. Use Blankets
Until a baby begins to move around, blankets shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Early in a baby’s life, blankets will stay where you put them.
From the time I was taking care of babies, some methods have changed. Doctors recommend swaddling now and that means wrapping them up in a cocoon of sorts and laying them on their back.
I did not swaddle and often placed babies on their stomach. From what I understand, placing babies on their back is now preferable because of the danger of SIDS (but do your research about baby sleeping position).
If the question is “how many blankets to use?”, take a look at what’s on your bed and how you are dressed for bed.
The way you put your baby to bed should reflect that. Remember that a few light layers are better than one big heavy blanket.
Also, try to stick to natural fibers like cotton, linens, silk and lightweight wool which don’t use chemicals or synthetic materials in the manufacturing process.
2. Monitor Temperature
The room temperature for your baby should be comfortable for sleeping. With modern electricity systems, it should be fairly easy to keep their room at an ideal temperature.
For most adults, sleeping at a cooler temperature is preferred because blankets are used and they can be added or removed throughout the night. A baby doesn’t have this luxury and relies on you for their comfort.
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Having an indoor thermometer for the room can help you track the temperature. You can make temperature adjustments based on this.
3. Keep Your Baby Next To You (hold your baby to keep them warm)
In the 1970’s and 80’s doctors were still stressing the idea that babies needed to be on a strict nursing schedule, adhere to a sleep schedule as soon as possible, and they shouldn’t be picked up all the time.
This advice seemed to go against every mothers’ natural instincts. I believe things have relaxed a bit since then and all of the above are still encouraged but left to the discretion of the mother and child.
You can rest near your baby at night and spend time with them. Your body heat can help keep them warm. If you sense your baby is cold, hold your baby and keep them warm in your arms.
This is another way to keep a baby warm at night, but it usually means you are awake. If you fall asleep with your baby, it’s important you don’t roll over on them.
In a regular size bed there are large blankets and pillows – if you were to both fall asleep these bed items could also smother a baby. Be careful!
Babies grow up fast. Enjoy your baby and take cues from them!
4. Heating Packs or Electric Heater
I don’t think there would be any need for heating packs or an electric heater unless your home has no heating or has a tendency to get cold at night.
Electric blankets have been known to burn people if their settings fail and this could be dangerous. Heating packs provide mild warmth and usually only last a few hours.
In certain situations these might be used under a blanket but should never have contact directly with the skin.
Similarly, warm water in a water bottle and wrapped in towels could help provide warmth for an hour or so but this is a very temporary solution and not something that should be relied upon to keep a baby warm at night.
Space heaters can be effective, however, much like an electric blanket they can be dangerous if the heater doesn’t turn off or if there is an electricity surge. Be careful with these heating methods.
There are so many types of pajamas to choose from. I just wish I had had the selection that moms have now!
Cotton knit pajamas are the best for kids. I advised my daughters to stay away from acrylic or other artificial fabrics. Baby “gowns” are great because they are loose and have a zipper that allows for diaper access.
The very best pajamas are made of double gauze cotton. They are usually sleeveless and should be worn with a onesie underneath.
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When considering warm pajamas for kids, also consider breathability. There are plenty of quality cotton fabrics that will keep your baby warm while providing air circulation.
Best Method For Keeping A Baby Warm At Night: Clothes, Blankets, or Temperature
The best rule to go by is to look at yourself. How are you dressed? How many blankets do you have?
Good parents tend to over-do it with blankets because being a little warm is probably better than being cold. It’s true, your baby will move around the crib once they start turning over and crawling.
But sometimes they move just to get out from too many blankets.
Make sure they have a crib bumper in the corners so when they move that direction their head will hit something soft and keep it cozy. After all, the head and feet are where we lose most of our heat.
If your baby is covered comfortably in a natural fiber gown then they will most likely be comfortable all night regardless of the blanket situation (and given there is one). Warm pajamas are essential.
The temperature of the room (or house) is also important and it’s common for parents to reevaluate the temperature once they have a baby. Setting the heater to a comfortable temperature is relatively easy and it will ensure your baby doesn’t become too cold or hot.
So, what’s the best method to keep a baby warm at night? It’s a combination of blankets, temperature, and pajamas!
Pay careful attention to these three things and chances are your baby will be comfortable all night – thought it doesn’t mean they won’t wake up crying because they are hungry!
I hope I have reassured you regarding sleepwear, blankets, and temperature for babies. The best advice is to keep it natural, don’t overdo it, and look at yourself.
The temperature of your home is the easiest part to control. Establish an ideal indoor temperature indoors that isn’t too warm or cold.
Synthetic fabrics and plastic feet are bad for babies – I learned the hard way. Remember to choose several thin layers of covering rather than one thick or heavy one and then look at what you’re wearing.
Pajamas play a large role in keeping a baby comfortable and warm. Think about long sleeves or short sleeves and the type of fabric that is being used. Is it thick? Is it breatheable?
You and your baby aren’t that different. If you’re comfortable they will be too.