how to cover newborn baby at night?

Bringing your precious newborn home is magical, but can also feel daunting, especially when it comes to basics like how to cover your newborn for safe, cozy sleep.

As tempting as it is to bundle them up tight, babies have different needs. By following some key guidelines like room temperature, lightweight sleepwear, swaddling steps, and back sleeping, you can create the ideal sleep environment for your little one.

This article covers newborn sleep best practices ranging from dressing baby appropriately to reinforcing healthy sleep habits.

We’ll overview common newborn sleep challenges and how to gently address them while establishing solid nighttime routines.

How to cover a newborn baby at night?

Covering a newborn baby at night requires a balance between comfort and safety. It’s essential to dress the baby in lightweight, breathable sleepwear, ideally made from natural fibers like cotton.

The room temperature should be kept comfortable, typically between 68°F and 72°F (20°C to 22°C). Instead of using heavy blankets, which can pose a risk of overheating or suffocation, opt for a well-fitted baby sleeping bag or swaddle wrap.

These are designed to keep the baby warm without the risk of covering their face. Always place the baby on their back to sleep, and keep the crib free of loose bedding, pillows, and toys.

This approach ensures the baby stays warm and reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Swaddling Your Newborn

Swaddling, the practice of securely wrapping your baby in a lightweight blanket, is recommended by many pediatricians and child development experts.

Here are some key reasons to swaddle and tips for doing it correctly:

Benefits of Swaddling

  • Promotes sleep: The snug feeling reminds babies of the comfort and security of the womb, leading to longer and more restful sleep. Many babies startle themselves awake if their limbs are free to flail about.
  • Prevents overheating: Swaddling prevents loose bedding from covering your newborn’s face and body, reducing the risk of dangerous overheating.
  • Soothes fussiness: The tight wrap has a calming effect for babies that struggle to settle down to sleep.
  • Aids development: The enclosed feeling assists with neuromuscular development and organization.
AgeSwaddling Guidelines
NewbornsSwaddle fully with arms at sides
0-2 monthsContinue fully swaddled as long as baby shows signs of startle reflex
2-3 monthsTest transitioning to one arm out if showing signs of rolling over
3-4 monthsStop swaddling as soon as baby shows signs of trying to roll

Swaddling Step-by-Step

  1. Use a large, thin, muslin swaddle blanket. These stretchy blankets provide the ideal combination of breathability and snugness.
  2. Fold down one corner. This will cover the baby’s feet after the final tuck.
  3. Lay blanket diamond-shaped. Place baby on their back in the center of the open diamond shape.
  4. Wrap one side over baby’s body. Tuck it underneath the baby tightly on the opposite side.
  5. Fold up the bottom corner. Pull it snug across baby’s chest and tuck into the first side wrap.
  6. Wrap the remaining side. Complete the wrap by tucking into the opposite side. The fit should be cozy but allow room for chest expansion.
  7. Fold down the remaining top corner. Adjust to cover feet and keep the swaddle taught.

As babies grow quickly, follow age guidelines for transitioning out of swaddling to prevent safety issues.

With the right technique and blanket, swaddling can help newborns (and new parents!) rest peacefully.

Sleep Positioning and Location

In addition to swaddling, there are other important best practices for making baby’s sleep space safe and comfortable:

Back to Sleep

Health organizations across the globe strongly recommend putting all babies under one year to sleep exclusively on their backs. Here is why back sleeping is safest:

  • Reduces SIDS risk: Back sleeping minimizes the chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Prevents suffocation: Babies placed to sleep on their stomachs are more likely to rebreath exhaled carbon dioxide trapped near their face.
  • Helps avoid flat spots: Allowing free movement of the head while supine prevents pressure on one area of the delicate skull bones.

While babies may seem to sleep better on the stomach, it is never worth compromising their safety. Be sure that ALL caregivers put your infant only to sleep on their back until age one.

Use a Safety-Approved Crib or Bassinet

Your newborn baby should sleep only in a safety-approved crib or bassinet without any loose bedding items. Follow these crib and bassinet safety guidelines:

  • Tight-fitting sheet covering a firm mattress designed for infants
  • No pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, or crib bumpers
  • Bars spaced no more than 2 3/8 inches apart
  • Meets all mandatory and voluntary safety standards
  • Placed in parents’ room close to mom’s bed

Having your newborn sleep in close proximity allows for easier feeding and monitoring during the first 6 months of rapid growth and development.

Dressing Your Newborn for Sleep

Ensuring your baby is comfortably dressed for sleep goes hand-in-hand with safe sleep positioning and location.

Use these tips to dress your newborn for a safe and cozy night:

Room Temperature

  • Ideal room temp is 68-72°F
  • Check baby’s chest or tummy to gauge if temp is right
  • Use only light, breathable sleep clothing in this temp range
Too Hot SignsToo Cold Signs
Flushed, red skinPale, mottled skin
Warm to the touchCool to the touch

Covering your baby too lightly or too heavily increases their risk of overheating or getting chilled.

Use blankets in moderation based on room temperature and baby’s own signals about their comfort level.

Appropriate Sleepwear

  • One-piece sleeper, ideally with feet and no ties/necklaces
  • Cotton footed pajamas
  • Wearable blanket or sleep sack instead of a loose blanket

Choose garments with suppleness and breathability. Avoid items with ties or neck opening sizes that pose strangulation or entrapment threats.

Layering Essentials

  • Short sleeve bodysuit
  • Footed pajamas
  • Wearable blanket OR swaddle/sleep sack

Adding or removing layers allows flexibility as temperatures fluctuate without overbundling.

Use ONLY one lightweight blanket in appropriate room temperatures instead of bundling in multiple loose covers.

With back sleeping, safe sleep location, and proper lightweight dressing, your newborn will stay perfectly content all night long.

The peace of mind from sound safety practices will help the whole family get some much-needed rest!

Addressing Newborn Sleep Challenges

While establishing healthy sleep practices from the start is ideal, many parents face hurdles like frequent night wakings or hard-to-settle fussy periods. Common newborn sleep challenges include:

Frequent Nighttime Feeding

  • Feed on demand whenever early hunger signs appear
  • Allow baby finish full feeding to promote longer sleep
  • Gently rouse every 2-3 hours if poor weight gain

Frequent wakings show baby’s small tummy needs lots of refills! Offer both breasts at each feeding and monitor diapers to ensure adequate intake.

Difficulty Settling Down

  • Swaddle to calm startles and flailing arms/legs
  • Play soft white noise like a fan hum or lullaby
  • Gently rock, walk with, or sway baby to sleep

Newborns struggle with strong reflexes and sensing day vs night. A calming pre-bedtime routine helps baby relax for sleep.

Sudden Night Waking

  • Check for wet/dirty diaper needing change
  • Attempt to resettle before full feeding
  • Note patterns surrounding unwanted awakenings

After addressing possible causes like discomfort, work on preserving sleep cycles rather than full wakings.

Have patience, respond lovingly to needs, follow healthy sleep habits, and call your pediatrician for worrisome concerns.

With time, your newborn will sleep longer stretches as their tiny body grows.

Here are some key suggestions for covering and dressing your newborn baby at night, including during the summer months:

What should I cover my newborn with at night?

It’s best to use only lightweight coverings for your newborn at night, such as a breathable swaddle blanket, sleep sack, or wearable blanket.

Avoid loose blankets in the crib. You can layer a short-sleeve bodysuit underneath footed pajamas for comfort and temperature regulation.

Do newborns need to be covered at night?

Yes, newborns should wear suitable light coverings or clothing layers even at night for comfort and temperature regulation.

Let the room temperature, your baby’s signals, and how many layers they wear guide you on adjusting coverings. Avoid overheating by not overdressing or over-swaddling.

How do I keep my baby covered at night?

Use a well-fitted swaddle, wearable blanket, or sleep sack properly secured to keep your newborn comfortably covered without loose bedding hazards in the crib.

Check the fit regularly and stop swaddling as soon as signs of rolling over appear.

How can I cover my newborn sleeping?

The safest way to cover your sleeping newborn is with a thin muslin swaddle, wearable blanket or sleep sack that is designed specifically for babies.

These ensure light, breathable coverage that reduces the risks associated with loose blankets while keeping your baby cozy.

How to cover newborn baby at night in summer?

In summer, dress your newborn in breathable cotton footed pajamas only, using no blankets. Opt for short sleeves and pants instead of sleeves/legs if very warm.

The room itself should ideally stay around 70°F with a fan circulating air. Monitor your baby’s temperature closely to avoid overheating risks.

What should I dress my newborn in summer at night?

The best options for dressing your newborn at night during summer are short-sleeve bodysuits, shorts/pants and short sleeve footed pajamas made of lightweight cotton.

Layer as needed for comfort based on room temperature. Avoid overlays or coverings beyond what’s worn to minimize overheating risk.


The arrival of a newborn baby presents new parents with plenty of unknowns to navigate.

By following safe practices for swaddling, back sleeping, protected sleep space, and appropriate lightweight dressing, you can help your baby sleep as soundly as possible.

Address frequent night feedings and awakenings gently and with care for your little one’s needs.

Establishing healthy sleep habits early on leads to better rest for baby and parents alike in the months ahead!

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