Is it Safe for a Baby to Sleep in Just a Diaper?

Some babies seem to hate wearing pajamas at night, fussing while wearing the sleepwear and then calming once it’s off. Letting your baby sleep in just his diaper will save on laundry and it may help your baby sleep, but the safety of this choice depends on a number of factors.

Overheating and SIDS

To help prevent sudden infant death syndrome, the American Academy of Pediatrics warns against overdressing your baby because infants can overheat. Overheating can affect an infant’s breathing pattern. KidsHealth cites research that suggests an infant who is too warm may go into a deeper sleep, making it harder for the baby to awaken. If your baby feels warm to the touch, he is too warm.

Dressing Suggestions

Newborn baby sleeping on the bed

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The AAP recommends lightly clothing your baby for sleep. In very warm months, letting your baby sleep in just his diaper is fine, adds the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths. However, a newborn generally prefers being warm over being cold and will need one more layer of clothing than you do for comfort. When your baby runs a fever, it’s best to put him to sleep in lightweight cotton pajamas, as this lets the heat from the fever escape but keeps him from getting too cold if the fever causes chills.

Room Temperature

When your baby is lightly clothed, the AAP recommends keeping the room at a temperature that is comfortable for a lightly clothed adult. When your baby sleeps in only his diaper, keep this room temperature rule in mind and adjust the thermostat accordingly. If your baby’s room does not have good ventilation, using a fan can make a difference, and reduce the chance of SIDS, according to a study published in the October 2008 “Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.” Do not point the fan directly at your baby. When your baby runs a fever, keep the room temperature at about 70 degrees to 74 degrees Fahrenheit.


Newborn baby sleeping on the bed

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Loose bedding increases the risk of SIDS, because any loose object in the crib can suffocate or strangle the baby. Your baby should not sleep with a pillow, blanket or any toys in the crib. If wearing only a diaper does not keep your baby warm enough without the need for a blanket, lightweight pajamas are a safer option. If you think your baby prefers sleeping in his diaper only, check the sleepwear to ensure it is soft and free from scratchy tags and trim. If you switch to a softer fabric or swaddle your baby, he may be happier at night.