Inside: See what the safest options are for keeping your baby warm in the crib this winter without blankets.
Now that the cold weather is officially here, I’ve been thinking more and more about how to keep baby safe and warm in the crib at night. The basic onesie and sleeper that worked for the hotter months will no longer suffice. My little guy needs something more substantial to keep his fingers and toes nice and toasty all through the night.
So with all the options out there, it got me thinking, what is the best way to dress my baby at night?
Set the Right Room Temperature for Baby
The time of year will clearly play a role in deciding how you dress your baby come naptime or bedtime.
In the hot summer months, moms want to keep baby cool, removing extra layers and making sure the room temperature is comfortable. In normal room temperature, a onesie and socks will usually suffice during naptimes, while a light breathable sleepsuit makes more sense in cooler homes.
Then come colder winter months, parents may need to adjust the room temperature so that it is warmer yet safe — 68-72F is a good range according to experts. You never want to go overboard with heating, especially because overheating can be dangerous. When in doubt, a little cool is okay.
And then of course adding layers will keep baby’s body nice and warm.
But which is better AND safer for a baby?? Blankets, swaddlers, sleepsacks??
This was a question I asked myself often as a first-time mom. I knew my baby had to be swaddled and comfortable. But I also wanted to make sure I kept him warm, safely as he grew from a newborn to active baby…and the typical blanket dilemma popped up.
Is it okay to let baby sleep with a blanket at night?
You may be tempted to let your little bundle of joy cozy up with any precious new baby blanket you receive (it is so darn, soft and comfy!), but it’s important to know the dangers of a blanket in the crib or around baby in general.
Typically the only time you’ll need to use a blanket around baby is to swaddle — remember those early days when you held your new bundle of joy after your delivery nurse swaddled them up for you? Yes, that works well, when it’s done properly and baby is all snug. But as baby grows and will no longer stay wrapped in a blanket…things become trickier.
You see as cliched as it sounds, covering a baby with a loose blanket at night is actually quite dangerous and can contribute to accidental suffocation. And although it is uncommon, accidental suffocation is the leading cause of injury-related deaths in infants. That’s a scary enough risk not to take.
You may not want to worry about it, but believe me, you SHOULD.
I remember quite vividly one time as I co-slept with my two-month-old…I covered his bottom half with a cute soft blanket like this one as he napped. When I checked on him shortly after, my heart sank as I witnessed my baby fussing blanket covering head!! It was something I vowed never to let happen again, and need to make others more aware of…because even a few seconds is too long.
How to Keep Baby Warm in the Crib Without Blankets
Okay so let’s get to it. Now that we know blankets are not a safe option for a baby to sleep with, what are the safer alternatives?
Swaddling is perfect for infants. So when you can’t quite master that perfect snug swaddle method yourself, opting for a swaddler (or safe swaddle-blanket that keeps baby snug) is a great alternative. It’s very different than a loose blanket on baby in the crib. It literally wraps around baby securely. However, this is only ideal for newborn babies, usually up to 15 lbs. So it’s only a good option for the first couple of months. When your little one grows and becomes more active you need other options to consider.
The sleepsack is usually the next step for keeping baby warm in the crib. It’s basically a wearable blanket but roomier to provide enough legroom to kick around while keeping warm. The Halo is one of the most popular brands and a personal favorite. You can find so many variations of this, depending on if baby (and mom!) prefers arms in, hands to face or hands out sleepsack experience.
During the coldest winter months, I like to use a fleece sleepsack paired with a light pajama set.
Note: You can find a sleepsack from newborn to large sizes as your baby becomes a tot.
And of course, one of the easiest options for keeping a growing baby warm at night is a great footie pajama. Once your baby no longer needs to be swaddled (I alternated between sleepsacks and a good set of PJs at around 6 months), definitely stock up on a few good pajamas. You should have a mix of options for cooler and warmer nights.
Below are some popular choices.
BONUS: More tips for keeping baby warm and comfy in the crib
Need a few more ideas on how to keep baby comfortable and warm in the crib? Here are a couple of pointers to help alleviate your worries!
- Scratch-free mittens – If you opted for a swaddle but baby’s arms keep busting out, mittens make a great option to prevent scratch marks. You’d be surprised how fast those little nails grow and cause tears!
- Leggings – These make great add-ons to a long-sleeve onesie when the room temperature is warm enough and baby isn’t going for the swaddle.
- Zipper pajamas – Moms have a love-hate relationship with PJs namely of the zipper vs. button options.
- PROS for zipper pajamas — makes middle of the night diaper changes a breeze!
- CONS: Can irritate baby’s delicate skin if you aren’t careful and in rush.
- Button pajamas – Similarly button pajamas can be a blessing or a nightmare.
- PROS: Makes middle of the night changes more comfortable since you only have to unbutton the bottom half (keeping baby warm on top).
- CONS: Takes F-O-R-E-V-E-R to attach all those little buttons…and the worst is when you mess up and have to start all over! Take your pick!
Remember, you have many safe options for keeping your baby warm at night. Whether you choose a swaddle-blanket, sleepsack or footie pajama to keep your baby warm at night, find something that makes baby comfortable and keeps mom at peace!
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Ana, a mom to three rambunctious little boys, has supported thousands of women throughout their pregnancy and motherhood journey since 2012 as a prenatal and postpartum educator at MommysBundle.com.