What Should Baby Wear Under Swaddle? (Temperature & Layers)

One layer of cotton clothing such as a onesie or shorts and t-shirt are sufficient layers under a swaddle. Swaddle in itself is considered a layer. But dressing your baby in layers depends on factors like room temperature, seasons, and swaddle material. Placing your hand on your baby’s chest can be a helpful trick in determining the number of clothes your need to layer them up in.

As a rule of thumb, babies shouldn’t be sleeping with any loose clothing around them. Any loose covering such as a blanket in winter or cotton sheet for summer could be a huge hazard and result in suffocation. This is why swaddles are deemed necessary and preferred by many parents until their child learns how to roll over.  

A proper fitting swaddle comes in handy when your baby is off to dreamland. But often, the question arises of what a baby should be wearing beneath a swaddle. How many layers are essential depending on the changing seasons? You might also want to know how long you should swaddle your baby.

Importance of swaddles

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines, blankets or other loose items in the crib are not safe for infants under 12 months of age.

A swaddling blanket that may come loose in the night is as dangerous as placing a blanket over your baby in the crib and may cause suffocation.

This is why it’s important to see the kind of swaddle you get for your baby. A well-fitted swaddle is preferred over a loose-fitted one. Such as that comes with Velcro are pretty popular as they give a sense of safety and warmth to your baby at night.

Temperature and layers

A happy infant boy is laying on his tummy on his crib blanket.

What you make your baby wear underneath their swaddle depends a lot on the temperature. Your baby can’t communicate to you yet if they feel hot or cold. So, it’s always a guessing game on your side.

It’s a rule to dress up your baby in one layer of cotton clothing beneath the swaddle. A plain cotton t-shirt and cotton pajamas or onesie will do the trick. While this should be comfortable enough, but requirements change based on how your baby feels.

To determine if your baby feels hot or cold, you can tell by placing your hand on your child’s chest to see how warm or cold they are. If it’s moderately warm, then you don’t need to do anything. If it feels too warm or too cold, you might need to reduce or add layers accordingly.

What you shouldn’t use as a measure to determine if they are hot or cold is touching their hands and feet. As a newborn baby, their circulation is poor in hands and feet, leading to wrongful determination. As your baby grows, their circulation improves.

During the summer

You can even choose to keep your baby in their diaper underneath their swaddle, or you can go for a light cotton onesie or shorts and a t-shirt. With changing temperatures, make sure you keep feeling your baby’s chest to determine the number of layers needed.

During the winter

It is normal to protect your baby during the winter months, but to do so, many parents end up overdressing their babies. According to parents, their babies will not catch a cold if they dress them up in multiple layers, but they forget that overdressing can lead to other complications. This could lead to SIDS.

A lot depends on the temperature you have maintained inside the house, depending on which just a light layer beneath a swaddle should be fine. But, if going outside, you should make sure to dress your baby appropriately, in a hat, shoes, and a warm layer of clothing.

Room temperature

As I mentioned before, a lot depends on the room temperature you have maintained at your home. The ideal room temperature is between 68-72 F or 19-22 C. So if this is not your temperature, you need to keep it between the advised.

Under such a temperature, your baby should be fine with just one layer of clothing underneath their swaddle.

Swaddle material

A newborn baby is comfortably laying down in his swaddle position.

When dressing up your baby, take into consideration the material used for the swaddle.

For summers, you can make it breathable and as light as possible if you choose a cotton swaddle.

For winters, you can opt for a thicker material for the swaddle. This will then affect the layering you do underneath the swaddle.

Using a thicker swaddle will make you not want to dress your baby in a lot of layers.

TOG ratings

One helpful tip for parents is TOG (Thermal Overall Grade). The TOG rating on a baby’s clothes helps you identify how to dress your baby for sleep.

The higher the TOG rating, the warmer the fabric.

You can see many baby clothing has TOG ratings on them, showing you how to dress your baby for sleep based on the room temperature.

Compare layers

A happy infant boy is laying on his back in his crib, with different types of clothes surrounding him.

Mostly, if you feel comfortable in a certain number of layers at a certain temperature, your baby will probably be comfortable dressed similarly.

While babies are sensitive, but not to the extent that needs to overdress them with layers. Most parents tend to focus on adding more layers, which leads to further complications.

So, most probably, if you feel it’s getting a bit chilly, then so does your baby. Your baby just needs a little extra care as compared to you, but their body can adapt to the temperatures just like you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Should I swaddle baby with clothes on?

Swaddle in itself is considered a layer of clothing. So, if it’s too hot over in the summers, just nappy underneath the swaddle should do just fine. According to the weather, you can increase or decrease the number of layers you are dressing your baby in.

Can baby get too hot in swaddle?

As swaddle is also considered a layer, overheating increases if your baby is wearing more than one layer underneath. You can notice further signs to see if they are hot such as flushed cheeks, heat rash, damp hair, sweating, and rapid breathing.

What should you not swaddle a baby in?

Remember to never put a swaddled baby on their stomachs or wrap them too tightly. A loose blanket swaddled baby has a higher risk of succumbing to suffocation so take notice of the kind of swaddle you’re are using.

Can I swaddle baby with arms down?

When swaddling your baby, you should keep in mind to keep their arms to the sides rather than across the chest. With arms on the side, chances of wiggling out of the swaddle reduce significantly.

Is it OK to keep baby swaddled while feeding?

For babies, swaddling can be cozy and safe, which in turn makes them doze off. If you swaddle them up while feeding, they won’t be stimulated or alert enough to keep on feeding and might doze off in between.

To summarize

Swaddling can be a great source of comfort for you and your baby. Not only it helps keep your baby warm, but it also gives them a sense of safety.

Swaddle in itself can be considered as a layer. So, when you wonder how many layers to dress your baby in, keep in mind that swaddle would be an additional layer.

As a thumb rule dressing your little one in just one cotton layer of clothing underneath the swaddle should suffice, but many things depend on the temperature.

Obviously, things change if you are going outside, then you need to rethink the number of layers. But always remember not to overdress your baby!

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