Cold Weather Sleep Tips for Your Infant or Toddler

Don’t you just wish your kids loved their cozy beds in the wintertime as much as you do!? Sometimes with just a few minor changes, you can see major results.

Here are our top tips for winter sleep:


Dry air and heat, stuffy noses and post nasal drip can add up to big problems for sleep, especially in the early morning when the sleep drive is not as strong and your baby has been laying flat for hours.

1. Temperature and what to wear. The optimal temperature range for sleep is mid sixties to low seventies (degrees); but that’s only half the story. If your baby is over bundled or under dressed, she might still be too hot or cold! You want your baby to feel warm and dry at the core, so before you go to bed or while tending to her in the night, put a couple of fingers down her chest or back to assess her temperature. If she’s cool at her core, she’s probably too cold. If she’s clammy and sweaty, she might be too hot. Fingers, noses and ears often feel cool to the touch in babies; that’s perfectly normal and doesn’t mean your baby is cold. Be sure to cover her feet with socks or footed pajamas. Sleep bags are almost always a good idea in the cooler weather. If you aren’t sure what to do– err on the cooler side. Cooler is safer for infants.

2. Keep it quiet. Babies and toddlers are very sensitive to noise – particularly at naptime and in the early morning hours. Sometimes something as simple as the paper being delivered, flushing of the toilet, or the neighbor’s dog barking is enough to wake your child up at an inappropriate time. Continuous white noise is essential for blocking out these random sleep disruptors and can help your baby or toddler stay asleep. Our favorite white noise machine is the Dohm White Noise Sleeping Machine, because it stays on all night to block out noises when they are most disruptive.

3. Keep it moist. Dry air and heat, stuffy noses and post nasal drip can add up to big problems for sleep, especially in the early morning when the sleep drive is not as strong and your baby has been laying flat for hours. Use some hydrating cream on your baby’s cheeks and nose before bed and some nasal saline if your baby is especially congested. Be SURE to use a cool mist humidifier in the winter to help moisten dry little membranes, nasal passages and skin! Remember that itching and sleep do not mix well, so if your baby has eczema be sure to treat it appropriately, too.

4. Dark, Dark, Dark. If your child gets up too early or has trouble falling asleep because of a bright hall or closet light, try darkening her room. At nighttime, your baby will do best in the dark from her target bedtime all the way through to her target wake up time. The level of darkness should be unchanging during this entire time, so black out shades are essential. Not all black out shades are made the same, so make sure you do a little research before making an investment. If you’re not ready to take the plunge, try hotel grade blackout material and a box of thumbtacks from a fabric store or a black paper “Reddi Shade” as a quick, cheap, effective alternative. If you or your child really need a nightlight for safety or comfort, that’s fine too – as long as it’s a very dim, soft glow. Most commercial nightlights are too bright, so you may need to find a dimmer bulb at a hardware store. Stick to warmer light tones like amber or orange and have the nightlight as far away from your child as possible.

6. Light and Activity. Just as darkness is essential during sleep times, light at the right times is, too! This time of year when it gets so dark in the early evening, it’s important you keep your house lights on very bright during the hours before your bedtime routine. This will help prevent your child’s body clock from shifting earlier than you like it (earlier bedtimes in well rested children mean earlier wake times, too!) Sleep is intimately tied to learning and memory consolidation, so to naturally improve your child’s naps or night sleep, get outside, get lots of exercise, take a walk, play at the park or take a class at Isis! Just try to time your outings so that you have time to come home and wind down for about 30 minutes before nap time.

5. Enjoy your winter and holiday vacations. Really! Bring a few familiar things from your child’s home environment like a lovie, blanket and favorite bedtime book with you on vacation to ease wake to sleep transitions. Try to keep your child’s nap schedule and bedtime the same if you can, but don’t worry if this doesn’t happen every day. When you return home, go back to your home sleep rules and in just a few days your baby should be back to normal, even if things were a little off while you were on vacation. Read this blog for more tips on holiday travels and baby’s sleep.

You can find 15 months’ worth of better baby sleep – bedtime, nighttime and daytime naps – and answers to your child’s sleep worries and woes right here: Isis Parenting’s Sleep Team presents: Baby Sleep eClass

About Meg Casano

Meghan is a nurse clinician specializing in pediatric sleep regulation. Meg’s interest and expertise focuses specifically on the needs of families and children from newborn to four years, making her a perfect fit for the Isis Parenting community. She uses her assessment and counseling skills to educate and support parents and caregivers to promote healthy sleep practices, develop lifelong sleep skills and manage a wide range of infant and toddler sleep challenges. Meghan received her nursing baccalaureate degree from Villanova University and her masters in biomedical ethics from Case Western Reserve University. After four years of practice at NYU Medical Center, Meg relocated to the Boston area. She and her husband have four young daughters. Meghan has provided over 1000 individual sleep consultations to Isis families over the past three years and as an Isis Sleep Team Leader, provides ongoing training and mentorship to the entire Sleep Team.

One Response to Cold Weather Sleep Tips for Your Infant or Toddler
  1. Amanda Halstead, D.C.
    December 23, 2013 | 11:59 am

    Thank you for sharing these wonderful tips! Better sleep for baby means a healthier baby and healthier, happier parents.

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