The science of baby sleep - Why pajamas matter
You will surely agree with us that every baby’s sleep quality is different. Babies have different sleep schedules, soothing rituals and habits; and even at a young age can have likes and dislikes. Some babies fall asleep immediately, while others need more time, cuddling, singing, or rocking to fall asleep. Similarly, some get most of their sleep at night, while others like keeping us awake all night and will catch their Z’s when the sun is out.
However, a baby’s sleep schedule and pattern also ebb and flow a lot over the course of their first year. During their first three months, newborns usually sleep day and night in short stretches of time as they need to be fed and changed regularly. When they are nearing the 6th week of their life, they start getting used to the rhythm of day and night. Between the ages of three and six months, most of them sleep around 15 hours a day, some even up to 8 hours at night, but they still will most likely wake up at least once a night. From about six months on, baby sleep is more similar to ours. Their sleep averages around 13 hours a day, of which they catch about 11 hours of sleep at night and make up the rest at nap time. Once your little one reaches their first birthday, they usually sleep longer and wake up less at night. However, the quality of their sleep, and the ease of getting them to sleep, is a lot easier said than done.
Baby sleep rituals
Just like adults, a calming and comforting nighttime ritual can help and influence the quality of our sleep, and this sentiment is also true for your baby's sleep. Babies thrive on predictability and routine. Having a consistent sleep schedule can help them feel secure and comfortable; which can promote better sleep quality over all. When babies have a consistent sleep routine they are more likely to fall asleep quicker and stay asleep for longer periods of time. The routine also helps babies develop a sense of regularity in their internal body clock, which can help them sleep more soundly and wake up feeling rested. Here are some evening rituals to try that might help your baby associate the evening with sleep:
- Bathing in Warm Water at Bedtime: If your baby is cold or too warm they may have trouble getting comfortable. Babies are unable to regulate their body temperature as effectively as adults, especially in the first few months. Warm baths help them achieve a comfortable temperature and get a night full of uninterrupted sleep. Appropriate pajama wear is also important for the same reason. More on that in a bit.
- Reading a Book and Singing a Lullaby: Telling a story or singing before bed can be a beneficial step to help your little one wind down and prepare for a night of quality sleep. A favorite book and listening to a loved one’s voice can create a sense of comfort and safety, making it easier for them to drift off.
- A Good Night Kiss: Not only does it calm them down before bed, but a parent's kiss and cuddle can add great comfort for the baby and leave them feeling happy and cared for. Physical touch gives them a sense of affection and builds their trust and self-esteem. It also promotes the release of oxytocin - a natural hormone that is associated with feelings of bonding and relaxation that humans of any age experience. Hooray for cuddling!
- Relaxing Atmosphere: Consider making bedtime a “Baby Spa.” Dimming the lights and reducing the noise a couple of hours before baby’s sleep time is essential. In addition to routine, a calm environment is another element that will encourage sleep and ease into counting sheep with least resistance. A few other tricks include: the baby’s room should be between 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit, a sound machine to block out distracting noise, and dark shades to keep the light out. These things create a peaceful environment that promote relaxing, restorative, and quality sleep. All of which are important for their growth and development – and your sanity!
- Choosing the Right Sleepwear: What your baby wears also impacts the safety and quality of their sleep. It’s best to make sure your baby’s pajamas are made of materials that regulate their temperature, will let their skin breathe, prevent skin irritation and most importantly are soft to the touch.
When creating a routine, pay attention to your child's cues. Adjust the rituals as needed – you may not need to do all of the above to get your little one down. Whatever works! If they sleep better, you sleep better.
What to wear
We can find a lot of research telling us the importance of the bedtime routines listed above. However, fewer mention the importance of pajamas relative to a baby’s quality of sleep. As parents we are often flooded with options; such as materials, brands, and styles of baby pajamas. Less is known about sleepwear that will keep your baby safe, comfortable, and promote a good night’s rest. Here are some things to consider:
- Temperature Regulation: As we mentioned before, one of the main reasons why pajamas are an important factor in a baby’s sleep is that they can help regulate the baby's body temperature, since they cannot regulate it on their own. Newborns and infants cannot yet shiver to generate heat or sweat to cool down, so they rely on their environment and sleepwear to keep them comfortable. Pajamas made from breathable materials such as Pima Cotton can help regulate your baby's body temperature. Pima Cotton has the unique ability to help your baby's body temperature stay regulated. It also has other natural benefits, such as being hypoallergenic and extremely soft to the touch. For these many reasons, this is why all of our baby rompers and pajamas are made from this incredible fabric.
- Comfort, Comfort, Comfort: Who doesn’t love a soft and cozy pajama? We know we do. More importantly, your new baby just came from a cozy and warm place – and our goal is that our Pima Collection comes in at a close second. Pima Cotton has natural hypoallergenic benefits that cater to sensitive skin, which all new babies have. Soft and breathable fabric help prevent further skin irritation and rashes that can be caused by less-than-quality materials. When feeling uncomfortable, babies tend to become fussy - which can make it harder for them to fall asleep. Who can blame them?! Another bonus, our pajamas are all natural and don’t contain harmful or synthetic chemicals that can also add to irritations and allergies.
- Safety First: Pajamas are also a part of safe sleep practices for babies and children. This is always a good friendly reminder. The younger the baby, the more helpless they are when it comes to maneuvering around the crib. Snug fitting sleepwear reduces the chances that they will get tangled in excess fabric, which can be dangerous for a variety of reasons, but also reduces the risk of flammability in the case of a fire. An unlikely situation, but since we don’t use harmful flame retardants, we keep our pajamas snug fitting to avoid extra oxygen between the pajamas and the baby’s skin which reduces the risk of the fabric catching on fire. By choosing pajamas that fit properly and are made from safe materials, you can help create a safer sleeping environment for your baby – which of course will help you sleep better!
- Skin Health: Due to the delicate and sensitive nature of baby and children’s skin, the material used for their sleepwear can have an impact on their skin health and over all comfort. Certain materials or chemicals have the potential to cause skin irritation, rashes, and other related issues for the baby. Here are a few things to know:
- Natural vs. Synthetic Materials: Make sure to look for pajamas made of natural materials such as cotton or bamboo - these are soft and breathable, which makes your little one’s experience a better one. This is even more important if they are prone to irritation or itching as these fabrics keep skin reaction at bay. Synthetic materials such as polyester, nylon, or acrylic are less breathable and can cause flare ups and discomfort.
- Chemicals and Dyes: Avoid formaldehyde and flame retardants at all costs. Pajamas that are chemically treated or dyed since those can also irritate your baby’s skin. Pajamas labeled as chemical-free will quickly become their best friend for quality sleep, as they will keep your baby safe from short-term and long-term adverse effects. Keep your eye out for safe-dyes, as those are less likely to cause irritation.
- Allergies and Sensitivities: All new babies have ultra-sensitive skin – some more than others. But some babies may actually be allergic or sensitive to certain materials, which can have an unwanted effect on your baby’s skin. If your baby has a history of skin reactions, it is important to consult a healthcare professional. First step you can do at home is choose pajamas made from hypoallergenic materials, this will help you both get on a path to a peaceful and quality sleep.
In summary, choosing pajamas made from natural materials that breathe and do not contain chemicals can help reduce the risk of skin irritation or rashes and promote a healthier sleeping environment for all babies, kids AND parents. Make sure the pajamas are washed before the baby sleeps in them. This removes any irritants or loose threads that might sneak in during manufacturing or packaging. Our Sammy + Nat Pajama Collection is free from all chemicals and harmful irritants – and an added bonus is they only get softer with every wash.
There is a variety of baby sleepwear options available on the market -- from footie rompers to sleepsacks to an endless assortment of pajamas. You should note that not all baby sleepwear products are alike. Some are suitable for all ages and some are best for certain stages throughout the first few years. Here are our guidelines for sleepwear styles, and the age for which they are suitable for:
- The Swaddle (0-3 Months) will soothe your baby immediately after birth. This light blanket can be wrapped around a romper or onesie and should be tight enough that it won’t unravel throughout any interval of sleep. Believe it or not, they love their arms being wrapped up, this snug swaddle gives them a sense of security as it imitates the womb.
- Baby Rompers (3-24 Months) with buttons or a zipper down the front, with feet or without. Rompers are a popular choice of sleepwear because they are comfortable, practical and most importantly, make a middle-of-the-night changing go as quickly as possible so everyone can get back to sleep.
- Baby Sleepsacks (3-36 Months) are usually worn over baby's sleepwear, and allow some movement during their sleep, while also being a safe alternative to blankets. It keeps them covered throughout the night and inhibits climbing in the crib. Babies can wear these up to two or two-years-old. Zipping up is one of the last steps before getting into bed.
- Baby Onesies (0-24 Months) are the perfect base layer to keep the baby warm and comfortable if you are in cooler temperatures. They cover the baby's stomach, shoulders and back. Because of the snaps, they will stay fitted perfectly under their romper and act as an added layer of warmth.
- Two Piece Pajamas (9+ Months), a Sammy + Nat Best Seller, are a staple in their sleep routine for many years to come. Putting on cozy PJs is one of those simple pleasures in life that all ages can enjoy. As they get older, picking out a favorite print to wear for the evening can be a fun added part to the bedtime ritual.
Forming a sleep routine is an overwhelming process for any parent - new or experienced. You should always remember to do what works for your baby, as all babies are different and don’t respond to the same techniques or soothing methods. By paying attention to how your baby or child responds to sleep rituals and layering in quality sleepwear – you will eventually have the whole household sleeping like babies.