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How Much Bedding Does my Baby Need?

How Much Bedding Does my Baby Need?

To add or take off a use blankets or a sleeping bag....just how much bedding should your baby have on their bed? And how do you tell if your baby is the right temperature?

It's a tricky thing to get right, as too much bedding can cause over-heating (a risk factor for SIDS) and too little bedding means your baby wakes from the cold! Plus add in the complication that there are definitely 'warm' babies who feel the heat more and get sweaty more easily.

What type of bedding should I use for my baby?

If you're a first-time parent or even a second or third-timer, knowing what to sleep your baby in can be confusing. Whilst most would assume blankets and sheets, just like an adult bed, this may not be the safest option for a baby. However, it doesn't mean you can't use them.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and Red Nose Australia recommend a wearable blanket or sleeping bag for little babies. Using heavy blankets in particular, or duvets can lead to suffocation and increase the risk of SUDI if the blanket rides up over baby's face or baby becomes entangled in it. Using a properly fitting sleeping bag ensures your baby stays warm all night and can't get caught up amongst any loose blankets or bedding.

If I don't use a sleeping bag, what type of bedding should I use?

If you're going to be swaddling your baby, choose wraps should that are 100% natural fibre - either cotton, merino, muslin or bamboo. Do not use a swaddling wrap that's lined with fleece when your baby is asleep, as your baby is too small to regulate their own temperature and can easily get too hot inside tight fitting fleece. Overheating is another risk factor for SUDI, so it's important to be aware of the fibres you're dressing baby in and how many layers they're wearing. If you find baby is getting cold at night you could add an extra blanket over the swaddle, ensuring it's firmly tucked in under the mattress and no higher than baby's chest.

Once you are no longer swaddling, we recommend using a sleeping bag rather than traditional bedding. This means there is no loose bedding for baby to slip underneath and it is easier to keep your baby at a consistent temperature all night as a sleeping bag can't be kicked off. A sleeping bag can also be more cost effective if you choose the right style and size as you won't need so many sheets and blankets.

If you do want to stick with traditional bedding (sheets and blankets) for your baby, we strongly recommend you only use natural fibre bedding (merino or cotton) on your baby's bed. Babies are not able to regulate their own temperature and in particular, merino wool has been found to be the best option for baby's bedding due to it's breathability and ability to wick moisture away.

For newborns, choose cotton or wool blankets, and 100% cotton or muslin sheets. Look for light layers so you can easily add additional layers if baby feels cold, rather than a heavy single blanket. Heavy blankets can increase the risk of SUDI if they come up over baby's head.

Choose blankets which will fit the size of the co-sleeper or cot your are using, ensuring you can securely tuck them into the side of the mattress. Read how to make up your baby's bed safely. We also recommend you place baby with their feet right at the end of the cot to stop baby from wriggling down the bed. It's also a good idea to choose machine washable bedding!

We don't recommend you use duvets inside your baby's cot until they are over 1 year old. Duvets are easy for baby to pull over their face, not designed to be tucked in securely so that baby can't slip down underneath. Duvets are also often made from synthetic material which can cause overheating. Resist the temptation to buy a cute matching duvet and bumper set for your newborn, they are just not a safe option until at least 1 year old!

At what age is it safe to use a duvet and pillow in baby's cot?

Any form of loose bedding is unsafe for baby as it can cover their face and become a suffocation and SUDI risk. In fact, the cot should be completely free of anything, except baby! A duvet can be introduced after 12 months, however it is recommended that a pillow not be introduced until after 18 months.

Is a cot bumper safe?

Cot bumpers can be a risk factor for SIDS, as they are soft and usually padded with a synthetic, unbreathable fabric. We do not recommend you use a cot bumper until your baby is at least one year old.  

However the exceptions to this rule are the Breathable Baby mesh cot liners, which can safely be used from birth and pose no SIDS risk.

Can I use a wool underlay for a newborn?

Newborns need to sleep on a firm mattress to keep their nose and airways clear should they roll over to their stomachs. Remember back to sleep is always best for baby, but in the event they can roll on their own, it's best to have a firm mattress to ensure their nose remains clear of the mattress. A wool underlay will "soften" a mattress because of the fluffy nature of the wool fibres. Whilst this is excellent for thermal regulation, it's not ideal for little baby's who need a firm mattress. We recommend waiting until baby is at least 6 months old before adding a wool underlay.

Read more about mattress firmness and safety

I want to use a sleeping bag for baby's bedding - what do you recommend?

There's a wide range of baby sleeping bags to choose from and we recommend a natural fibre bag - either merino or cotton which are lightweight and breathable. We do not advise using any products either on your baby or in baby's bed that are made from polyester fleece, as they often result in sweating...which then cools down and makes your baby cold. It's also very hard for your baby to regulate their temperature inside synthetic fabrics.

Choose a sleeping bag based on your budget, fabric preferences and the climate you live. Our expert team can help you find the best sleeping bag for your baby.

How can I tell if my baby is too hot or cold?

Feeling your baby's chest or the back of their neck is the easiest way to see if your baby is the right temperature. Red and sweaty is too hot and if they are cold to the touch then your baby is too cold!

Babies who are too hot are likely to be grizzly and unsettled, they may be sweating and their skin may look a bit mottled. If your baby has become dehydrated from being too hot, their fontanelle will have a 'dent' in it.

Your baby has immature circulation, so try not to worry if her hands or feet are chilly. This is not an accurate indicator of the rest of the body's temperature.

Also use your own temperature as a guide. If you are cold and need to put on an extra layer, then your baby is likely to be cold too!

Should I use a heater in my baby's room?

We advise only using a heater to take the chill off your baby's room, as babies should not sleep in hot rooms. The recommended room temperature for a baby is 16 to 20 degrees, with around 18 degrees being ideal. That may feel chilly to you, as we are often used to room temperatures of more like 22 degrees.

If you feel your baby is still cold with the recommended room temperature, adjust their bedding and clothing.

How much clothing should my baby wear?

You will need to judge this based on so many factors - room temperature, how warm or cool your baby feels, what sort of clothing you use....

Some considerations include:

  • Use only natural fibre clothing with newborns - cotton or merino are best

  • Use light layers rather than bulky clothing

  • Use merino against the skin as it helps regulate temperature

  • Babies generally need one more layer than adults, but this layer may be a swaddle rather than another garment.

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