Skip to main content

How to dress a newborn baby

Newborn's do not need a huge variety of outfits during the first few weeks. See our list of what your baby needs.

When dressing your baby, it's really important to keep them comfortable – not too hot and not too cold.

How to dress your newborn in summer

During the day

Babies less than 6 months old should be kept out of direct sunlight, so try to stay in the shade as much as possible. Their skin contains too little melanin to give any protection from the sun so they should not be exposed at all.

Generally, when it's hot, a single layer is enough – lightweight cotton is best as it's breathable.

When you're out and about, make sure your baby has a wide brim hat on to keep the sun off their face.

The pram should have a clip-on parasol or sunshade. Never cover the pram with muslin or blanket as your baby can overheat.

At night

Keep nightwear and bedclothes to a minimum. A vest or just a nappy is fine on the warmest nights.

If your baby kicks or pushes off the covers during the night, just leave their nappy on and have a single, well-secured sheet. Make sure the sheet is secure enough so it cannot cover their face, or get entangled during the night.

Read this guide to hot weather with a newborn.

Sudden infant death syndrome

The Lullaby Trust website says the chance of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is higher in babies who get too hot.

How to dress your newborn in winter

During the day

A good rule of thumb is to give your baby 1 extra layer of clothing than what you're wearing.

For example, if you're in a t-shirt and jumper, dress them in a vest, sleepsuit and cardigan or jumper. If you feel chilly, your baby probably does too.

Always remove hats and extra clothing as soon as you're indoors or get into a warm car, bus or train – even if it means waking your baby.

At night

It can be tempting to wrap your baby up to keep them warm. However, we know that overheating a baby increases the chances of SIDS (also known as cot death). Research shows babies are better to be cooler than too hot.

A sleepsuit and either a sleeping bag (check the manufacturer's recommendation for winter tog thickness) or a sheet and/or blanket should be fine.

If you're using a sleeping bag and feel like your baby is cold, add an extra layer of clothing – but not extra blankets.

If you're using sheets and/or blankets, use lightweight cellular blankets. Avoid thick, fleecy or padded blankets.

Read more about safer sleep in winter and top tips to keep your baby warm in winter.

Temperature regulation

Small babies are not very good at regulating their own temperature. They can overheat because of too much clothing or bedding, or because the room is too hot.

How will I know if my baby is too hot?

If your baby is sweating or their tummy feels hot to the touch, take off some of their clothing or bedding.

Don't worry if your baby's hands or feet feel cool. This is normal.

It's easier to adjust for the temperature with changes of lightweight blankets. Remember, a folded blanket counts as 2 blankets.

Safe room temperature

A room temperature of 16 to 20C is comfortable and safe for sleeping babies. Your baby just needs light bedding or a lightweight, well-fitting baby sleep bag.

If it is very warm, your baby may not need any bedclothes other than a sheet.

Even in winter, most babies who are unwell or feverish do not need extra clothes.

Babies should:

  • never sleep with a hot water bottle or electric blanket
  • never sleep next to a radiator, heater or fire
  • never sleep in direct sunshine

Watch the Lullaby Trust's baby temperature video.

Sign up for emails

Our emails include NHS trusted advice and support, tailored to your stage of pregnancy or baby's age.