How many blankets does a newborn need at night?

Newborn babies have very specific temperature regulation needs, so knowing how many blankets to use is an important consideration for parents. The number of blankets a newborn needs depends on the baby’s size, the room temperature, and what they’re wearing. Most experts recommend layering with lightweight blankets and sleep clothing to help regulate baby’s temperature all night long.

What temperature is safe for a newborn at night?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a newborn’s sleep space should be kept between 68-72°F (20-22°C). This narrow temperature range helps keep baby comfortable and prevent overheating or getting too cold. Newborns cannot efficiently regulate their body temperature, so it’s up to caregivers to maintain a thermoneutral environment.

Room temperature does not equal skin temperature, however. Even if the room feels cool to an adult, a baby can still get overheated under blankets. Parents should check for signs of overheating like flushed cheeks, sweating, rapid breathing, and restlessness.

What factors determine how many blankets a newborn needs?

There are a few key factors that determine how many layers and blankets a newborn needs for safe, comfortable sleep:

  • Room temperature – Ideal is around 68-72°F. Colder rooms necessitate more layers.
  • Size of the baby – Smaller newborns need fewer blankets than bigger babies.
  • Weight of the blankets – Thin, breathable blankets are safest.
  • Baby’s clothing – Footed sleepers, sleep sacks, and wearable blankets provide warmth without loose blankets.
  • Time of year – More layers may be needed in winter months.

Parents should also consider baby’s sleep cues like alertness and activity level to see if they appear comfortable with the amount of bedding they have. It’s generally easier to add a layer if your newborn seems chilled than to try to cool them down if they get overheated.

How swaddling affects newborn blanket needs

Many newborns enjoy being swaddled, or wrapped snugly in a lightweight blanket. Swaddling promotes sleep by preventing the startle reflex from waking baby. It also provides comforting containment to simulate the snugness of the womb.

A swaddle blanket alone is usually sufficient for regulating a newborn’s temperature. Additional loose blankets are not necessary if baby is swaddled properly in a thin cotton or muslin blanket. However, some parents layer a second lighter blanket over the swaddle for additional warmth.

Transitioning from swaddle

When transitioning out of the swaddle around 2-3 months, parents may need to adjust bedding. An unswaddled newborn who moves around more may need an additional blanket compared to when swaddled. Sleep sacks are a helpful alternative, since they allow free movement of arms and legs but still provide a warm, cozy enclosure.

Recommended number of blankets based on room temperature

As a general guideline, most newborns will need 1-2 thin, breathable blankets in a properly climate-controlled room. Here are blanket recommendations based on room temperature:

Room Temperature Recommended Blankets
68-72°F (20-22°C) 1 lightweight cotton blanket
65-68°F (18-20°C) 2 lightweight cotton blankets
62-65°F (17-18°C) 2-3 lightweight cotton blankets
Under 62°F (17°C) Not recommended without proper clothing layers. Use sleep sack and footed pajamas.

For colder environments, blankets made from natural fibers like cotton, wool, or bamboo may provide more warmth than synthetic fabrics. But avoid heavy materials like quilts or comforters due to suffocation risk.

Using sleep clothing to regulate newborn temperature

In addition to swaddles and blankets, parents can use sleep clothing to help keep baby warm and comfortable all night. Layering sleep clothing under or over a blanket allows better temperature customization.

Footed pajamas/sleepers

Full footed pajamas or sleepers worn under a swaddle or light blanket provide insulation while allowing easy diaper changes. Look for cotton, fleece, or bamboo fabrics for breathability and warmth. Make sure sleepwear does not compress chest or have loose ribbons or ties.

Sleep sacks

Wearable sleep sacks or sleep bags allow free leg movement while keeping the torso warm. They are a safer alternative to loose blankets for transitioning out of the swaddle. Many have dual zippers for adjustable temperature control.

Wearable blankets

Wearable blankets made of stretchy fabric adjust to baby’s body temperature throughout the night. They have arm holes and leg holes like a sleeved blanket to prevent slipping or entanglement. These can be used alone or layered under another blanket.

Choosing safe blankets

Not all blankets are safe for newborn use. Here are tips for choosing appropriate bedding:

  • Use thin, breathable natural fabrics like cotton, bamboo, or muslin.
  • Avoid bulky, heavy materials like wool, quilts, or comforters.
  • Do not use loose bedding like sheets, pillows, or other objects in baby’s sleep area.
  • If swaddling, choose lightweight, large muslin blankets to wrap baby snugly.
  • Select the right blanket size for your crib or bassinet mattress.

Avoid these unsafe materials

These types of blankets are not considered safe for newborn use due to suffocation hazards:

  • Duvets, quilts, comforters
  • Sheepskin or wool pelts
  • Fluffy or deep pile fabrics
  • Loose bedding like sheets or pillows

Signs your newborn may be too hot or cold

Since newborns can’t verbalize how they feel, look for these signs baby may be too hot or cold and adjust bedding accordingly:

Signs of being too warm

  • Sweating
  • Flushed, red cheeks
  • Warm to the touch
  • Rapid breathing
  • Irritability
  • Fussiness

Signs of being too cold

  • Cool to the touch
  • Hands and feet feel cold
  • Shivering
  • Lack of energy, lethargy
  • Pale, blotchy skin
  • Trouble waking up

Setting up a safe sleep environment

In addition to bedding layers, follow these tips to ensure baby’s sleeping area is safe:

  • Place newborn to sleep on their back on a firm, flat mattress. No pillows, blankets, toys, or crib bumpers.
  • Do not overdress baby. Footed pajamas with no other covering may be sufficient.
  • Use a wearable blanket or swaddle wings to avoid loose blankets bunching up.
  • Set room temperature between 68-72°F. Do not overheat.
  • No loose bedding should be present to avoid risk of suffocation.
  • A clean, dry pacifier reduces SIDS risk. But don’t force it if spit out.

Common newborn blanket FAQs

Is it OK for a newborn to sleep without a blanket?

Yes, as long as baby is dressed appropriately for the room temperature and showing no signs of being too cold. Many newborns use just a wearable blanket or sleep sack, or sleep in footed pajamas without any other covering.

When can baby use a comforter or quilt?

Heavy bedding like quilts, duvets, and comforters should be avoided until a toddler is at least 24 months old. Only thin, breathable blankets should be used for newborns and infants under 1 year old.

Do I need special swaddle blankets?

Large, thin muslin blankets work very well for swaddling newborns. They provide just enough lightweight warmth and are big enough to wrap baby snugly. Avoid using bulky materials that could overheat baby.

What’s the best baby blanket material?

Lightweight cotton, muslin, bamboo, and microfiber fabrics allow air circulation and adjust to baby’s temperature. Wool or flannel can also work for added warmth. Avoid excessively thick or heavy materials.

Can I use a stuffed animal or blanket with toys attached?

No, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against any loose bedding, blankets with toys, or stuffed animals because of the risk of suffocation or SIDS. A clean pacifier is the only object permitted in a newborn’s sleep area.


Ensuring your newborn maintains a comfortable temperature all night is key for safe, quality sleep. Most babies only need 1-2 thin, breathable blankets like cotton, muslin, or bamboo. Layering blankets with sleep clothing like footed pajamas or sleep sacks allows adjustability. Observe baby’s cues and do not overdress or overheat. Aim for a thermoneutral environment, and place newborns on their back without loose bedding for optimal safety.

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