Blanket Sleepers for Babies

Baby in Blanket Sleeper
Getty Images / Compassionate Eye Foundation / Siri Stafford

For safe sleep, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urges parents to avoid placing soft objects, blankets, loose bedding, and anything else that could increase the risk of suffocation or entrapment in a baby's crib. How can you keep your baby warm without a blanket? The answer is blanket sleepers or sleep sacks.

A blanket sleeper is a one-piece outfit that helps keep baby warm and comfortable during the night. Wearing these toasty pajamas means baby doesn't need to be covered by a blanket. Infant sleepers made of thinner material may also be called stretch-suits, one-piece pajamas, or footie pajamas, while thicker versions are generally called blanket sleepers.

Keeping Baby Warm at Night

Typically, babies need about one additional layer of clothing beyond what an adult would wear in the same temperature. Separate blankets and bedding are not recommended for babies because of the risk of suffocation and entanglement, but babies still need to be protected from the chilly night air.

That's where the blanket sleeper comes in handy. These garments usually have long sleeves and long legs to keep babies cozy. Often, sleepers cover a baby's feet, too, so you don't have to worry about socks staying in place or little toes getting chilly.

Sleepers come in a variety of materials, from airy cotton to thick fleece, which means there is a blanket sleeper for any season.

Choosing the Best Blanket Sleeper

You'll want to keep a couple of key features in mind when shopping for a blanket sleeper. Since your baby will mostly be wearing the sleeper at night, you'll want to make sure it helps them get a good night's rest.

Diaper Changing Convenience

Baby and child pajamas are supposed to be tight-fitting or made of flame-retardant fabric to meet federal safety standards. If a blanket sleeper is tight-fitting, take an extra minute to evaluate the diaper-change access.

You'll want a sleeper that it can accommodate night-time diaper changes. Choose a blanket sleeper that opens fully at the bottom so that you don't need to fight with it to take off a soiled diaper. Removing the sleeper to change a diaper could also be chilly and uncomfortable for your baby.

Zippers that start at the neckline and extend down one leg may arouse your baby when you unzip them and cooler air hits their skin. You'll also have to pull your baby's other leg out of the unzipped side of the sleeper. Versions that zip or snap around the inside of baby's legs and up to the diaper area may be easier for night-time diaper changing.

Washability and Comfort

Make sure the sleeper's fabric is easy to wash and dry. Quick clean-up and non-fussy washing instructions are essential. If the sleeper is intended to be worn alone, check to see if there are any exposed zippers or snaps that might feel rough against your baby's skin, and see if the fabric is soft on the inside as well.

Temperature Regulation

Remember that your baby only needs to be a little warmer than you do at night. Babies don't need three layers of thick fleece to be comfortable when sleeping. Overly heavy blanket sleepers could overheat your baby, which isn't safe, healthy, or pleasant.

Safe Sleep Practices

To keep your baby safe at night, be sure to follow the AAP's guidelines for safe sleep. These include always putting your baby on their back to sleep, using a firm crib mattress, and not allowing your baby to sleep on a couch, sofa, armchair, or nursing pillow. Babies should sleep alone, without any other people, objects, or pets. While it's a good idea for them to share their parents' room in the first year, sharing a bed is not safe.

Blanket Sleepers vs. Wearable Blankets

An alternative to the blanket sleeper is the sleep sack or sleep bag. The top of the sleep sack usually has shoulder straps, like overalls. The bottom doesn't have separate leg compartments but instead is like a gown, with elastic or a zipper at the hem. Sleep sacks that open at the bottom are handy for diaper changes. This style is also known as a wearable blanket. Some wearable blankets are also designed to swaddle your baby.

These sleepers also take the place of a separate blanket for your baby, but they are used over the top of regular, lightweight pajamas. They can also be worn over comfy clothes, such as a one-piece bodysuit or a baby T-shirt.

Blanket Sleepers for Older Babies

Sleepers are a good choice for older babies and toddlers, too, especially those who move around a lot at night. Babies can start sleeping with a blanket sometime after their first birthday, though for some, waiting until they are 18 months old is safest.

For toddlers who are walking, the wearable blanket style can be problematic, though there are some models that allow feet to poke out. If the sleeper has enclosed feet, be sure there's a non-slip coating on them to reduce the risk of falling.

A Word From Verywell

When choosing sleepwear for your baby, it is important to keep safety in mind. The AAP recommends that babies be put to sleep on their backs, in their cribs, alone, every time they sleep. This means no stuffed animals, blankets, quilts, comforters, crib bumpers, or anything else that poses a risk of suffocation or entrapment.

Instead of blankets or other bedding, use blanket sleepers or sleep sacks that meet Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines. Additionally, try not to over-bundle your baby at night. They only need one more layer than you do to sleep comfortably. There is no need to dress them in multiple layers. Following safe sleep practices will help you both rest easy at night.

5 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. How to keep your sleeping baby safe: AAP policy explained.

  2. Good Samaritan Medical Hospital. Dressing your baby for cooler weather.

  3. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Children’s sleepwear regulations.

  4. National Institutes of Health. NIH alerts caregivers to increase in SIDS risk during cold weather.

  5. Scheers NJ, Dayton C, Batcher M, Thach BT. Reports of injury risks and reasons for choice of sleep environments for infants and toddlers. Matern Child Health J. 2019;23(12):1613-1620. doi:10.1007/s10995-019-02803-7

By Heather Corley
Heather Wootton Corley is a mother, freelance writer and certified Child Passenger Safety Technician-Instructor.