How Much Bedding Does Baby Need?

Babies control their temperature through the face. Sleeping baby on the back and ensuring that the face and head remains uncovered during sleep is the best way to protect baby from overheating and suffocation.


Research has shown that baby’s risk of dying suddenly and unexpectedly is increased if baby is sleeping on the tummy and that risk is even further increased if baby is sleeping on the tummy under heavy bedding or if baby’s head becomes covered by bedding in any position.

Sleeping baby in a sleeping bag will prevent bedclothes covering the baby’s face.

If blankets are being used instead of a sleeping bag, it is recommended to place baby with his or her feet at the bottom of the cot, using layers of lightweight blankets that can be added or removed easily according to the room temperature. Tuck blankets in firmly so they cannot become loose and cover baby’s head during sleep.

Overheating can be caused by room heating, high body temperature and excessive clothing or bedding. To reduce the risk of this, Red Nose recommends that you, as baby’s parent or carer, use your own judgement, taking into account factors such as where you live (climate, whether it is summer or winter), whether you have heating in the house, and whether baby has a cold or minor illness (which may cause their temperature to rise).

A useful guide:

  • Dress baby for sleep using layers as you would dress or use layers yourself: to be comfortable, neither too hot nor too cold - add/remove lightweight blankets to ensure baby’s chest feels comfortably warm to the touch
  • A good way to check baby’s temperature is to feel baby’s chest or back of neck, which should feel warm (don’t worry if baby’s hands and feet feel cool, this is normal).
  • Ensure baby’s head is uncovered - no hats, bonnets, beanies or hooded clothing.

Never use electric blankets, wheat bags or hot water bottles for babies.

Last modified: 11/5/20