Swaddling Advice for Warm Temperatures.
Parents are often concerned that their baby will over-heat if they are swaddled in warmer weather. But most newborns struggle to sleep well if they are not swaddled....and quickly become both hot and over-tired without effective swaddling. Overheating is one of the factors which contribute to SIDS deaths, so it is very important to take the temperature of your baby seriously.
However it is important to note that it is not swaddling alone that causes over-heating! Babies temperature results from the combination of clothing, swaddle wrap and technique, bedding and room temperature. Each of these factors can be controlled and minimised to ensure your baby does not get too hot. On this page you'll find tips & links to information on swaddling in warmer weather, Summer temperatures as well as general swaddling tips and advice.
Remember to consider all the layers on your baby - her clothing, her baby wrap and the blankets over the top. It is the total combination of layers, rather than one swaddling layer, that will determine if your baby is too hot or too cold, or just right.
When checking how warm your baby is, slide your hand down onto her chest or feel her neck. It should be warm but not hot and sweaty. Don't worry if baby's hands are a little chilly, as this should not affect her overall temperature.
We recommend using 100% cotton wraps, as these breathe better than a synthetic fabric. It is also essential for baby safety that their head is uncovered for sleeping and sleep environment is clear at all times
Control and minimise over-heating and help ensure your baby does not get too hot by considering each of these factors.
- Use light clothing inside your swaddling or just a nappy.
- Choose only 100% natural fibre such as cotton or bamboo
- Merino may be suitable for night-time clothing, such as a merino gown, as it is very effective at regulating body temperature in small babies, but other layers would need to be very light.
- A short-sleeve bodysuit is likely to be sufficient when swaddling during summer days.
- Never use a hat while swaddling at any time, particularly in warmer weather.
Which swaddling wrap
- Use light weight wraps in 100% natural fibre only - cotton or bamboo are best for summer.
- Do not use any wraps made from synthetic fabric (eg polyester or fleece) or with a synthetic lining, as these can quickly result in a sweaty or over-heated baby.
- A fitted wrap can be a great option as the wrap will stay very secure. Babies can become hot from wriggling round and trying to escape from a wrap that they can get out from!
- Choose a wrap that is big enough to be effective - 100x100cm for a newborn and 120x120cm for a baby over about 8 weeks.
Muslin is the fabric traditionally used for swaddling babies in NZ and Australia. It is an open-weave, very light-weight 100% cotton.
Muslin is ideal for summer as it is so light and breathable.
- HOWEVER muslin is also the hardest fabric to wrap securely with, so may not be suitable for houdini babies unless you are a very skilled swaddler!!
- We recommend you choose the best quality muslin you can afford, as cheaper muslin is absolutely hopeless for effective swaddling.
- We recommend Aden + Anais muslin wraps if you want to wrap with muslin - they are beautiful quality and have a double-thickness, stretchier fabric than the cheap muslin found in most baby shops.
- Another good option are the Cuski Swaddle Wraps.
- Using a Safe T Sleep over the top of your muslin wrap can help keep it secure.
Fitted Wraps for summer:
Sleepy Wings - a swaddling 'jacket' which just covers the arms. Made from light cotton/lycra T-shirt fabric. Can be combined with a light sleeping bag or with legs left out. Suitable for babies without much startle reflex or as a transition from firm swaddling, as baby will be able to move their arms to some degree. Can be worn with arms up or down. View here:
Ergo Cocoon - 1 layer of organic cotton, in light T-shirt 0.2 tog weight fabric. A snug fitting style with arms up on the chest. Suitable for babies who don't have much startle reflex or who can sleep with their arms on their chest. Due to very snug fit you will need little clothing inside. Arms can be in or out. View here.
Love to Dream - 1 layer of cotton/lycra, in light T-shirt weight fabric. A snug fitting style with arms up. Suitable for babies who prefer their arms up or who don't have much startle reflex. Due to very snug fit you will need little clothing inside. Also available in the LITE version for summer. The LITE version is stretchier, so it has less startle control and may not be suitable for babies who need a very firm wrap. View original fabric Love to Dream or View Love to Dream LITE.
Miracle Blanket - 2-3 layers of T-shirt weight cotton, so a warmer option than many fitted swaddles. Can be used with the legs left out, which makes it a lot cooler. You can also adapt the way the wrap is used to combine with a light sleeping bag or to reduce the layers. This is out most secure wrap so it still the best option for Houdini babies who need very secure wrapping. For day sleeps in summer you will not need any clothing inside during the day and will need to ensure the room is cooled down. Ideal for summer nights as you won't need any additional bedding and you will get the most secure wrap. Can also be combined with a light summer sleeping bag for older babies who still need a very firm swaddle. See our instructions below.
Mum 2 Mum Summer Dream Swaddle - This swaddle features mesh panels to provide ventilation in warmer climates a double wrap system ensures that your baby is kept secure all night long. The extra layers that secure the wrap don't make this the lightest summer fitted wrap - instead consider going for single layer options like the Ergococoon, Love to Dream Lite or Gro Swaddle.
Ergobaby Swaddler Lightweight - Made from a 60% cotton / 40% polyester mesh fabric the Ergobaby Swaddler offers a secure fit and requires more effort to fit baby in to the swaddle. Generally the Ergobaby Swaddlers are sized smaller
Halo Sleepsack Swaddle - We used one a lot during the 3-5 months period of weaning off swaddling, using with one arm out and also for those sleeps when both arms just need to be contained! Perfect for effective swaddling with arms in, arms out or one of each! Then when your baby no longer needs swaddling, remove the swaddle and just use the sleeping bag! The extra layers that secure the wrap don't make this the lightest summer fitted wrap - instead consider go for single layer options like the Ergococoon, Love to Dream Lite or Gro Swaddle.
Light Swaddle Grobag - Like the Halo Sleepsac swaddle the Swaddle Grobag aims to be a 2 in1 swaddle (and as baby grows) a sleeping bag to give you the best of both worlds! Poppers on the armholes allow for swaddling with arms in or arms out for the freedom of a newborn Grobag. The light fabric is ideal for nurseries between 21-25°C and the side zip makes for easy nappy changes without disturbing your baby.
Summer swaddle comparison chart
If your baby's startle reflex is wearing off or you are looking to transition from swaddling, using Sleepy Wings with a sleeping bag is a good option for warmer weather.
The Sleepy Wings help control arms from flying all around, without them being firmly wrapped. It can be used with arms up or down, and can also help with dummy replacement for older babies. Not so suitable for babies who need firm swaddling as they still have a strong startle reflex.
You can choose the weight of the sleeping bag you use. For rooms 20 to 25 degrees use a 1.0 tog. For rooms 25 degrees and over, use a 0.5 tog sleeping bag.
Miracle Blanket no legs
You can use your Miracle Blanket with the legs out of the foot pouch in warmer weather.
Miracle Blanket over sleeping bag
The Miracle Blanket is the best option for wrapping over a sleeping bag for babies who still have a strong startle reflex or need very firm swaddle. It can be used with one or both arms inside the wrap, and is also excellent for gradually weaning baby off being wrapped.
This combo also works well for babies who still need firm swaddling but are too long for the leg pouch on their Miracle Blanket.
The Miracle Blanket is one of the warmer fitted wraps so we recommend a slight change to the way you use your Miracle Blanket over a bag in the summer months:
- Put the shorter wing down by baby's side, rather than wrapping it over the chest
- Only wrap the long side round baby once rather than twice.
You will need to judge if this gives sufficient security for your baby and doesn't become unravelled while he is sleeping. If the wrap becomes loose, please ensure you revert to the usual Miracle Blanket instructions for safety reasons.
Love To Dream over summer sleeping bag:
This is another handy option if you don't want to buy a different swaddle and if you are wanting to transition from being swaddled.
- Put your baby into the summer sleeping bag first.
- Then Pop the Love to Dream over the top of the sleeping bag.
- Undo the bottom end of the zipper up halfway and pull the sleeping bag and baby's legs through the bottom of the Love To Dream.
Swaddling techniques with regular wraps
As mentioned above, it's important to use an effective swaddling technique so your baby doesn't get hot fighting to escape!!!
Arms down swaddling:
This is the most secure way to swaddle and a good option for using with either light stretch cotton or muslin. This is the technique recommended by Dr Harvey Karp in The Happiest Baby, as it stays secure best of any technique.
View our instructions here
Aussie style swaddling:
This is the technique often used in Australia with muslin wraps, and we have some instructions from the lovely people at Aden + Anais. Suitable for babies who like to suck their hands, sleep with arms up or who don't have much startle reflex. Harder to keep secure especially for wrigglers or Houdini babies!
The bedding you use over your swaddling will make a huge difference to whether your baby is too warm or not.
- Use light layers rather than thick winter weight blankets.
- Choose cotton, bamboo or very light merino blankets.
- Use only a top sheet during the day in a warm room.
- Try to keep your baby's room a comfortable temperature, ideally between 18-20 degrees.
- Use a fan and/or the window open during the day to help cool it down.
- Using a shade or blind can help reduce the room temperature during the day.
- We recommend using a gro egg room thermometer so you can easily see the room temperature and make changes to your baby's clothing or bedding as appropriate.
How to tell if your baby is too warm:
- If your baby is red or sweaty, then they are too hot!! Remove some bedding or clothing immediately.
- You can feel your baby's temperature on their chest, back of the neck or ears.