New Zealand’s largest provider of support services for the development, health and wellbeing of children under 5, is advising parents NOT to use polar fleece suits and bedding for their babies.

Service manager, Kerry Hamilton, says it is better for babies to sleep in natural fabrics like merino blankets rather than synthetic fabrics, reports Stuff.co.nz.

She encourages parents to steer clear of polar fleece when choosing baby’s bedding and clothing.

Kerry said synthetic materials increased a baby’s risk of overheating.

Natural, breathable fabrics including wool and cotton were best, Ms Hamilton said. “It helps them to regulate their heat and helps to prevent overheating.”

“Quite often the quality materials are expensive. We see a lot of polar fleece products around. Sometimes the issue is knowledge but quite often it is affordability.”

Clinical leader, Alison Martin, said there was no problem with a baby or child wearing polar fleece when they were outside, but it was best not to put a baby to bed wearing or wrapped in polar fleece.

“Polar fleeces will heat a baby really well but then they can’t cool off. ”

Babies needed to have their hands and head exposed when they were sleeping so they could regulate their temperature, Ms Martin said.

As well as increasing the risk of overheating, polar fleece is also highly flammable.

SIDS safe sleeping

Thermal stress (overheating) has been implicated in SIDS and SUDI for many years and avoiding overheating has been one of the strategies to reduce risk of SUDI.

SIDS recommend you should dress baby and use layers as you would dress or use layers yourself: to be comfortable, neither too hot nor too cold.

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.

Babies manage heat loss very efficiently when placed on the back to sleep with the head uncovered. Sleep baby on the back and keep baby’s head uncovered during sleep to reduce baby’s risk of sudden unexpected death.

Make up baby’s bed so baby sleeps at the bottom of the cot and the blankets can only reach as far as baby’s chest, ensuring baby cannot move down during sleep and get his/her head covered by bedding.

Consider using a safe baby sleeping bag (one with fitted neck, armholes or sleeves and no hood).

Dress baby for sleep and add/remove lightweight blankets to ensure baby’s back or tummy feels comfortably warm to the touch.

Remove hats, bonnets, beanies and hooded clothing from baby’s head as soon as baby is indoors.

Share your comments below.


  • Why are these fleecey items so readily available for little ones if it’s so dangerous? Mykids had fleecey pyjamas and blankets with no issues


  • These days it is extremely difficult to find 100% cotton clothing or blankets. Some have skin reactions to wool. I know mine do. They come up in welts if wool touches their skin. Seems my kids have inherited sensitive skin I have and my Mum had too.


  • If its dangerous why is it for sale? Most sleeping bags on the market are made out of this and I’ve been using them and never found a problem as my kids often kick blankets in their sleep hence why I’ve always preferred to use sleeping bags.


  • Firstly, it should not be available for sale if it presents real serious risks. Secondly, there are so many more options available now than when my son was a baby. Polar fleece was one of the main things on offer so we didn’t have choice. Education is key though.


  • If it’s so dangerous, it should be removed from the shelves of children’s clothing. I have bought them for winter for obvious reasons with no knowledge of the dangers


  • I used to use them on my little ones when they slept until I realised how hot and sweaty they were when they woke up.


  • There are a lot of polar fleece sleeping bags and onesies around for sale so I don’t think the message is getting out quite enough. I know even when my kids were little we did use them on the very coldest nights (like camping) but maybe if natural/safer fibres were more affordable, the polar fleexe wouldn’t be as common.


  • If that is the case they shouldn’t sell them


  • The problem is how expensive natural fibers are. And even things that feel just like cotton often are a blend or acrylic.


  • Natural materials, not only for babies, is of course for all of us more safe and pleasant


  • Bedding and fabrics that breathe just makes good sense.

    • It is well worth buying bedding that costs a little more when on sale.

      • Yes sales are great for saving money especially if you don’t have much.

      • I love sales and have purchased bedding at 70% off prices! :)


  • Common knowledge but I wouldn’t have thought about polar fleece


  • Thanks for the information. I thought this was common knowledge about over heating too?


  • I thought this was common knowledge?


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