Updated: Jul 15
My firstborn, Gideon, was born in February; it was cold and snowy. They gave us a fleece swaddle in the hospital, which seemed to be magical. I had brought a lot of tiny footed pajamas with us and they looked so stinkin' cute on him! Thankfully though, one of the nurses told me not to put him in those pajamas under the swaddle. She instructed me to just put him in a onesie under it- no pants or even socks needed.
I was a bit surprised but figured she knew what she was talking about, so I followed her advice. Little did I know...she was absolutely right! It wasn't until I got certified as a sleep consultant that I really understood why that was the correct way to dress him under the swaddle. So, let me explain...
Does swaddling keep baby warm?
The specific Halo fleece swaddle I received was a TOG 3.0. TOG is a measurement of the warmth of a sleep garment or bedding. A 3.0 is suitable for temperatures around 60-65 degrees, Fahrenheit. We keep our house around 70 degrees. What this all means is that the swaddle itself was more than enough to keep him warm even on a cold, winter night. If I had dressed him in regular footed pajamas under that swaddle, he would've been too hot. Babies don't sleep well when overheated. So, while we had him in that swaddle, we only dressed him in a onesie underneath, mostly for comfort. No pants. No socks. He was plenty warm and slept great in it...well, great for a newborn at least!
Within a week after coming home, he started wiggling his arms out of the Halo swaddle, no matter how tight I made it. This, of course, disrupted his sleep. So, I began researching other swaddles. We tried quite a few and eventually landed on the Love to Dream swaddle. This is my favorite swaddle out of all swaddles. For my second two kiddos, I went straight to this one from the start! (Here are more details on my pros and cons of these swaddles).
The Love to Dream, however, is only a TOG 1.0, so it's not nearly as warm. It's similar to a thin sheet. If you use a muslin or cotton swaddle blanket, that would also be a TOG 1.0. So, once we started putting him in this swaddle, I then dressed him in the footed pajamas underneath. The two together equaled a TOG warm enough for our house temperature around 70 degrees. With a baby under 1 year of age, there should be no blankets or anything loose in the crib with him. So his clothes/pajamas and a swaddle or sleep sack are the only sources of warmth you should use.
It can be tempting to put lots of thick layers on your baby to keep him warm, especially a newborn. However, this isn't necessary and can actually overheat the little one. For more information on TOG and how to dress your baby for different temperatures, check out this blog post: What Should My Child Wear to Sleep?
~Ashley Bell, pediatric sleep consultant