What you need to know

  • Clothes made from natural fibres like cotton and wool will help keep your baby’s body at the right temperature.
  • Babies usually need one more layer of clothing than you do.

Choosing baby’s clothing

When you choose clothing for your baby, check that:

  • it's made from natural fibres like cotton and wool, to help keep their body temperature even
  • it's easy to put on and take off
  • it's machine-washable
  • there’s plenty of room in booties, socks and leggings, because babies’ feet grow quickly
  • it looks comfortable and has enough room for your baby to grow
  • there are no cords or ties around neck (these can strangle babies)
  • it's snug (close) fitting.

Buying second-hand clothes or being given hand me-down clothing can be great.

  • Check that nightwear is going to be snug fitting. Buying pyjamas that fit your baby snugly, rather than be too big, will reduce the risk of them catching fire. There are safety standards for children’s nightwear.
  • Check for loose threads on clothing, as these can get caught around fingers and toes.
  • Long ties around the neck of clothing is a danger. Singlets, jackets – anything with a tie can be a strangulation hazard.
  • Wash and dry clothing before use.
Safety standards for children's nightwear

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Checking baby’s temperature

To check if your baby is warm enough, slip two fingers down the back of the neck between the shoulder blades. If their back is warm, then so is your baby, even if their hands or feet feel cool. If your baby’s hot and sweaty, take a layer of clothes off, even if they’re asleep. If your baby is cold, add a layer of clothing and check the bedroom temperature. If you think your baby may be unwell, there are other precautions you should take.

Baby clothing essentials

For young babies, it's a good idea to have some:

  • singlets
  • body suits/onesies (these button between baby’s legs, keeping their bodies warm)
  • stretch’n’grows (body suits with feet to keep baby cosy)
  • socks/booties (with wide, soft ribbing around the ankle)
  • hats (at least one warm hat for winter and a sunhat for warmer days)
  • scratch gloves (these often fall off and go missing)
  • sleep suits/night gowns that open at the bottom.
  • cardigans or jackets
  • bibs
  • a ‘coming home’ or ‘going out’ outfit.

Polar fleece nightwear and bedding

Polar fleece blankets and clothing are made from plastic-based fibre which means the fabric doesn't breathe. This means babies can easily overheat and sweat, then get too cold because the sweat can't evaporate. For these reasons clothing made from polar fleece and other similar fabrics such as rayon, nylon and polyester fabrics are not suitable for use at sleep time or for bedding. While they may seem to be warmer, they hold in moisture and heat making it more difficult for a baby to regulate their body temperature.

Younger babies are especially at risk as they have not yet developed an ability to regulate their temperature. In addition, polar fleece and similar fabric clothing and bedding come with a higher rate of flammability which is not something you want your child to be wearing in the case of fire.

When it comes to newborn babies, the secret is to dress your baby in layers, but it can be especially hard to get the number of layers right, as they can't tell us when they are too warm or too cold. We recommend putting babies and young children to sleep in natural, breathable fibres like cotton and wool. Light merino wool blankets and wraps are perfect choices as they are breathable and help little ones maintain their body temperature.