What Your Baby Should Wear When Sleep Training

What Your Baby Should Wear When Sleep Training

Clothing choices for your baby are super important, especially when it comes to sleep. What your baby should wear when sleep training, is one of the top questions I get when working with families. 

I’m Chrissy Lawler, a certified pediatric sleep consultant for babies and toddlers, a licensed marriage and family therapist, Mama of four, and founder of The Peaceful Sleeper. 

Taking a holistic approach to teaching your baby healthy sleep habits and independent sleep skills is the foundation of our method. There are so many different pieces of the puzzle to helping your baby sleep better, and their clothing is one of them. Let’s dive in! 

What should babies wear to bed when it's time to sleep train?

What your baby wears when you start sleep training depends on a number of factors. 

When we are putting our babies down to sleep, for either bedtime or a nap, we want them to be safe, comfortable, physically able to self-soothe, and in clothing that is developmentally and age appropriate. 

Learning to self-soothe is a big part of sleep training, which is why clothing choice while sleep training is so important. We want babies to be able to have access to their hands, and freely move their body, as these are both ways that babies can self-soothe. 

You can dress your baby in pajamas that fit the season you are in and temperature you are in, and have that be all they are wearing, however, most often, I recommend pajamas AND a sleep sack. There are a lot of benefits to using a sleep sack, not just for sleep training, but for sleep in general. 

Sleep sacks are a great option because they offer added warmth without the use of an unsafe blanket. They also provide a feeling of comfort. Even after 4 months, babies can have jerky or fidgety reflexes that make it difficult for them to go to sleep and stay asleep. So I highly recommend using a weighted sleep sack. A weighted sleep sack, like Dreamland Baby’s weighted sleep sack, uses a gentle weight, which is calming as it is meant to decrease cortisol and increase melatonin and serotonin. 

So before you start sleep training, grab a weighted sleep sack so you can transition your baby out of a swaddle and still give them that snug and calming feeling to help make sleep training as successful as possible for your little one. 

When is the best time to sleep train? What do babies typically wear during that age?

The best time to sleep train is at 4 months. The reason being, this is the time when most babies enter the 4 month sleep regression and sleep falls apart. This regression happens because your baby’s brain changes and is capable of deeper and more restorative sleep. It’s just getting into those deeper sleep cycles that can be a tricky skill to master.  

Sleep training means teaching your baby how to enter this deeper phase of sleep on their own, in order for them to connect sleep cycles and stay asleep longer. 

That being said, it is never too late to create better sleep habits and teach independent sleep skills! Every baby can get better sleep! 

At 4 months old, babies are often still in a swaddle. We usually recommend dropping the swaddle if you haven’t already done so. This is because we want to allow babies full movement to self-soothe. 

Rolling also happens around this age and it’s not only unsafe for babies to start rolling when swaddled, but most babies end up preferring to sleep on their tummies. So although we will always put them on their backs to sleep, if they choose to roll to their stomach and settle there, that is fine as long as they got their on their own and have the neck strength to turn their head to the side. 

If your baby is in a swaddle before you start sleep training, then you have two options to transition them out of it. 

You can either start by swaddling one arm out and then after a few nights move to both arms out, before dropping it completely. Or you can go “cold turkey” and start night 1 of sleep training with your baby in a sleep sack like the Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack. (Remember, as soon as your baby shows signs of rolling, you need to drop the swaddle completely.) 

How does clothing affect a baby’s sleep? Why is sleep training in the right clothing important?

When we are looking at “great baby sleep”, we are taking a holistic approach. We not only look at wake windows and independent sleep skills, we also look at environment, room temperature, sleep hygiene… and optimal clothing is a piece of this. 

When we are sleep training a baby, we want to optimize every aspect of their sleep, so that teaching them independent sleep skills will be as successful as possible. When we are looking at the clothing piece, we want babies to be comfortable, relaxed, and the perfect temperature. 

A lot of this is going to depend on the climate where you live, the season you are in, and the temperature inside your home. I usually recommend cozy and comfortable pajamas that are appropriate for the season, climate and temperature of your home, and then a 1.0 TOG sleep sack. This is for rooms that are around 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. 

It is much easier for a baby (or anyone for that matter) to be in an optimal state for learning when they are comfortable and relaxed. And just like there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to baby sleep, the same goes for what YOUR baby needs to feel comfortable and relaxed. For this reason, I recommend tuning into your little one and their preferences, and using this advice as a guideline as you experiment with different clothing options. 

The Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack is a great place to start and the vast majority of parents I recommend it to, love it! You can experiment with different pajamas underneath it, but either way, the gentle weight of the sack is super relaxing and promotes sleep!

What should you look out for when sleep training? Tips for parents starting to sleep train:

When you are starting sleep training, there are a few things you should keep in mind and be on the lookout for. 

First of all, as I have been mentioning throughout this post, sleep environment is super important. Just as clothing is an important piece, so is room temperate, lighting, sound etc. Of course, every baby is different, but I usually recommend the room temperature to be 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit, (and on the cooler side of this range), to use a sound machine, and to adjust the brightness of the room as your baby gets older. 

So for newborns and babies, we generally want the room to be pitch black for nighttime sleep. Once your baby gets older and is entering toddlerhood, you can try having a dim nightlight on that is just bright enough that your little one can see their hand in front of their face. But we still want it dark. 

Secondly, tune in to your baby and the process to ensure the approach that you are taking is a good fit for them. Every baby is different, and there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to baby sleep or sleep training. So be prepared to make tweaks to your sleep training plan if you feel like the approach you are using isn’t working, and if you are working with a sleep consultant, ensure they are working collaboratively with you to make an individualized sleep plan that works for YOUR baby. 

Finally, there is often a sleep training sleep regression. This happens around day 5-7. What happens is, your baby is making great progress and then suddenly it seems like it isn’t working anymore. I encourage you to stay the course. If the approach WAS working then most likely tweaks do not need to be made and instead you should stay the course. 

Also, what sometimes happens is now that your baby can put themselves to sleep and is learning to connect sleep cycles, they start sleeping more than they actually need and this “regression” is about them trying to figure out exactly what their optimal sleep needs are. So still stay the course, but if they start taking mega naps and going way over the amount of daytime sleep they usually need, then you can cap naps so it doesn’t impact night sleep. 

Closing Thoughts

I hope that this post has helped empower you with knowledge around what your baby should wear when sleep training. 

Every baby is different so you may have to experiment with what the optimal clothing choice is for YOUR baby, but generally speaking, I recommend pajamas and then a sleep sack (and ideally a weighted sleep sack as most babies benefit from its gentle weight). 

Whether we are talking about sleep training, determining sleep needs, or optimizing environment, it can be tricky to know when to make tweaks or changes to your sleep plan. That’s why working with a sleep consultant can be super helpful. We can work WITH you to create an individualized sleep plan that is in your little one’s zone of proximal development and is inline with your parenting values. Of course, we can also help you tweak the plan as you go or pivot to a different approach if/when that makes sense. 

Click here  to check out our consultation options! 

Note: The term “sleep training” can mean different things to different people. It can have negative connotations and is often associated with CIO or not responding to your baby in a way that you want to. This is not always the case, and this ambiguity is one of the reasons why I use the term “sleep learning” instead. The Peaceful Sleeper “sleep learning” method is about teaching your baby independent sleep skills using an approach that is the best fit for you and your baby. 

Chrissy Lawler is a baby sleep consultant, a licensed marriage and family therapist, mama of four, and founder of The Peaceful Sleeper. She believes that all babies can get great sleep and that sleep is critical for everyone, in all aspects of life. Visit her website https://thepeacefulsleeper.com/ or find her on Instagram @the.peaceful.sleeper 

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