We all want our babies to feel snug and cosy when they go to sleep at night, and you have to ensure they wear the right amount of layers. While this is generally easy to figure out, one question some parents have is whether their babies should sleep in hats and socks as well, especially if it’s cold in the winter months.
In this article let’s look at whether you need to put hats and socks on your baby when they go to sleep, or whether this should really be avoided.
What should a baby wear at night in general?
One general rule is to dress you baby in one extra layer compared to what you wear to sleep. For example, this could be a vest and a sleep suit. Once you have the clothing sorted, you also need to consider the right sleeping bag. In the cooler months, you should also consider putting your baby in a sleeping bag with a thicker tog (around 2.5), but in the summer use a thinner one (around 1.0).
In extreme weather conditions, such as a heatwave, you can probably just have your baby in a diaper plus a vest. But in freezing conditions, when then room temperature dips below 59 degrees Fahrenheit, consider a 3.5 tog sleeping bag.
Can a baby wear socks to bed?
There’s no definitive answer for this, but it’s probably best to gauge the temperature of your room to determine your decision. Assuming you follow the rule above that your baby sleeps in one more layer than you do, if your feet feel cold when you’re under your duvet, chances are your little one should put some socks on. However, in most cases socks aren’t really necessary as you will likely dress your baby in a vest and sleep suit, which covers their feet anyway. The room would have to be very cold if you feel the need to add socks in this case.
Do babies need to wear socks all the time?
While your babies should wear socks when it’s cold, many paediatricians recommend that your baby go barefoot as much as possible, to encourage them to wriggle their toes. Remember their feet and hands are usually colder to touch than other parts of the body, and this is perfectly normal. But if you feel the room is particularly cold, by all means put some socks on. Just choose some which aren’t too tight as this can reduce the circulation and lead to problems in their foot development.
Why are socks important?
A lot of your baby’s heat escapes through their feet and head, so it’s important they feel comfortable and warm. In fact, wearing socks can help your baby sleep if they are feeling a bit cold. Just be careful they won’t overheat as this can be risky to your baby’s health. The best way is to have an accurate temperature reading of your baby’s room to help you make an informed decision.
When should they wear them?
For general day to day use, your baby should wear socks when they have shoes on. A baby’s skin is extra sensitive and without socks, any rubbing of their bare feet onto the shoe material can quickly cause some irritation. Other than this, just use them as you see fit, as they can help your baby feel comfortable if they are a bit cold and to help maintain the right body temperature. However, just let them go barefoot as well at times so they can get used to moving their toes.
Should babies wear socks when learning to walk?
You should let your baby go barefoot as much as possible when they are learning to walk around the house. It helps their balance and coordination as they can feel the ground better. Once they start walking, then you can buy them their first pair of shoes!
Can babies choke on socks?
It’s extremely unlikely that your baby will choke on a sock. Babies are always chewing on muslins, blankets and other soft toys, especially when they are teething. They usually just spit it out once they’ve had enough!
However, some manufacturers have recalled some of their baby socks in previous years, but this is due to an issue with the product design. For example, in 2019 the London Bridge company recalled their baby socks and wristbands due to a small rattle sewn into the material which presented a choking hazard for infants. Furthermore, Midwest-CBK recalled their socks in the same year for the same reason; an attached rattle, which could detach and pose a risk to a baby.
Should babies wear socks in the summer?
Your baby doesn’t need to wear socks at all in the summer really. Babies have a limited ability to sweat when they are so small, so wearing socks can cause them to overheat. Have them in bare feet as much as possible, and if they are walking, use sandals if it’s warm or very thin socks and shoes if it’s not that hot.
Why do some babies hate wearing socks?
Some babies really despise wearing socks, especially when they try them on the first few times. Often it has something to do with their immature nervous system, as every sound, taste and touch can be rather overwhelming (similar to babies who touch grass for the first time). So you can imagine for babies who are used to being barefoot or wearing a onesie, it can feel strange having some new objects attached to both feet and held in place with some tight elastic around their ankles.
My son was constantly trying to take his socks off when he first tried them on, especially when he was in his car seat, but he got used to it in time.
Most babies should get used to wearing socks fairly quickly, but if you are still having issues after some time, there could be a sensory processing issue.
Why do newborn babies wear hats?
When you see pictures of newborn babies in the hospital, you’ll often see them wearing a hat. Many nurses and midwives put one on straight away after a baby is born. This is because the new environment will feel colder for the infant, compared to being warm and snug inside the womb.
When should you put one on your baby?
However, once you are back home with your baby, you really don’t need to use a hat unless you are outside, particularly in the autumn or winter months, or if it happens to be very cold in your home.
Should a baby wear a hat to sleep?
This should really be avoided as it can cause your baby to overheat during the night, which increases the risk of SIDS. There should never really be a need for your baby to wear a hat when they sleep. Furthermore, having their head exposed can help babies regulate their temperature if they are too hot.
Should a baby wear a cap while sleeping in winter?
Even in the depths of winter, your baby shouldn’t need a cap or hat on their head, as there is still a risk of them overheating during the night. You should always go by the room temperature in your baby’s room as a guide (18 degrees Celsius is ideal but anywhere between 16-20 should be fine). However, if the room temperature drops below 16 degrees Celsius, put on an extra layer within their sleeping bag to keep them warm.
Should babies wear hats indoors?
There shouldn’t be any need to wear a hat indoors, although for the first week or so your newborn baby may wear one as they get used to their new surroundings. However, even in this case, if the room temperature is between 16-20 degrees Celsius, you really don’t need to put a hat on your baby. In general, just save hats for outdoors or if your central heating has packed up in your home!
How can you keep a baby’s head warm at night?
You don’t need to worry about your baby’s head getting cold during the night. As long as they are wearing the right amount of layers, they’ll be fine, and an exposed head will prevent your infant from overheating. You should only consider putting one on if the room temperature really drops below 16 degrees Celsius. As an adult, you’ll certainly feel chilly in this environment too!
However, you should avoid exposing your baby to any draughts either from the window, or if you have any air conditioning in your room. Position your baby’s crib a few feet away from these things.
How do you know if your baby is cold at night?
One common mistake is checking a baby’s hands and feet as a signal to check if they are too cold. However, this is very unreliable as the circulation in these parts of the body is still immature so they will usually feel cool to touch. A more reliable method is to check the back of their neck. Also, check the room temperature, as if it’s too cold, you may wish to put an extra layer on your baby.
Graham is a father of two who founded Dadometer to share his parenting journey with other moms and dads.