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How Do I Choose the Best Warm Pajamas?

By S. McNesby
Updated May 21, 2024
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Choosing the best warm pajamas is usually a matter of knowing the warmest styles and having some idea of the different materials most commonly used. Pajamas come in a wide variety of both appearances and fabrics, and some are naturally much warmer than others. What you’re basically looking for is an ensemble that will trap your natural body heat and hold it close to you as you sleep. The very first consideration should be style: you generally want long sleeves and long pants, since these will cover much more of your skin than shorts or gowns that are open at the bottom. From there, you’ll want to evaluate the available materials. Wool blends are traditionally some of the warmest, and flannel offers many of the same benefits though it tends to be less dense. Silk and pure cotton can also be good “all natural” choices, though these are usually lighter, so need to be worn close to the skin for warmth. Finally, engineered materials like synthetic or “polar” fleece can be good options.

Part of what makes a pair of pajamas the “best” for you is your own comfort level in them. If you have very sensitive skin, harsher materials like wool might be more irritating than they’re worth, and people who suffer from really dry skin sometimes find their condition aggravated when wearing fleece. Take the time to try on different options and choose the one that you are most comfortable wearing.

Style Considerations

The very first thing you should think about is style. No matter what material pajamas are made from, the more body parts they cover, the warmer you will be. Pajama sets with long pants or attached feet are typically much warmer than sets that have shorts, while long-sleeved, button-down tops or pullovers tend to hold heat better than their sleeveless counterparts. While looks play an important part in any clothing purchase, pajamas are often selected for their ability to keep the wearer warm, not for the cut or printed design they feature. If style is really important to you, you may want to look at the offerings of several different manufactures and brands to find something that fits your ideal look and falls within your budget.


Wool is a natural fiber that helps keep the wearer warm even when wet. The warmth factor of wool, combined with its natural resistance to flame, makes it an ideal choice for baby pajamas and infant sleep sacks. Wool pajamas are available for any age group and can be made from woven wool flannel or from knitted wool fabric. Wool pajamas are usually more expensive than their synthetic or cotton counterparts, but will last a lifetime when cared for properly.


Flannel is a woven cloth made from cotton, and it is often used to make pajamas for everyone from babies and toddlers to elderly adults. Flannel is usually available in different densities. The more tightly the cloth is woven, the warmer it will be. When it comes to pajamas, very dense, heavy flannel is warmer than flimsy, tissue-weight flannel fabric. As such, you’ll probably want to actually feel or see the material yourself before simply relying on a description listing “flannel.” Flannel sleepwear is available throughout the year, and is often popular throughout all four seasons. In many places it is particularly easy to find during the winter holiday period, when many retailers stock pajamas in seasonal patterns and colors.

Silk and Cotton

Cotton isn’t always woven into flannel, and some cotton sleepwear can be quite warm, particularly if it is worn to be tight-fitting. Silk is another lightweight but warm natural fiber, and it’s often best at retaining heat when woven into thermal-knit fabric. Thermals typically feature a waffle-shaped weave that is designed to help keep body heat close to the skin. Silk is usually an excellent insulator, but it can be costly. Cotton is almost as warm as silk when woven into a thermal weave and is usually a more affordable option.

Synthetic Fleece

Synthetic polar fleece, a man-made material known for its softness, is often used to make warm pajamas for kids and adults. It keeps wearers warm in part because of how efficiently it wicks moisture from the skin as it retains body heat. Footie-style fleece pajamas are useful for babies and toddlers, since they are not easy to remove and the child can sleep without an additional blanket. Big kids and adults can wear pajamas made from fleece as well; some sets have printed fleece bottoms and tops, while others feature fleece bottoms with knit or woven tops.

Mix and Match

You might find that your warmest pajamas are combinations of different material. Pajama sets that feature a silk or cotton thermal fabric top and a pair of flannel pants can be both warm and comfortable, for instance; a cotton top with wool or fleece pants might also give you good results. Retailers often sell pajamas as coordinated sets, but you can frequently buy them as separates, too.

Sensitivity Issues

It’s important to remember that “best” in this context is very subjective, and depends as much on your taste and style as the quality or composition of the materials. People with sensitive or overly dry skin usually need to be particularly wary of materials like wool and fleece, for instance, even though these are two of the warmest types of pajamas generally. Wool can irritate the skin and cause itchiness, which can actually keep people from sleeping well. Fleece, too, can aggravate dry skin. Babies and toddlers are some of the most likely to suffer from dry skin, and these in these cases simple cotton, or else cotton layers underneath fleece pajamas, tends to be best.

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Discussion Comments

By anon945038 — On Apr 10, 2014

My 8 year old son was too sensitive. He broke out terribly and 2 years later his skin has become very rough. We are heart sick.

By pastanaga — On Dec 28, 2013

@Mor - Footed pajamas look cute but I always wonder how comfortable they really are. I don't remember wearing them as a kid, but I know as an adult they would make me feel very claustrophobic. I'm sure they'd be very warm, but I like being able to regulate my temperature once I'm in bed. If I couldn't stick my bare feet out into the air when I got too hot, I think it would really bother me.

I might just be a bit too fussy though and it's true that I live in an area where it doesn't get that cold at night, so generally feeling warm isn't that much of a problem.

By Mor — On Dec 28, 2013

@MrsPramm - I think it depends on the child. I know my sister only ever dresses her son in one piece, wool pajamas and they don't seem to bother him. He looks absolutely adorable as well, wandering around in those. It's the classic picture of a kid who is ready for bed.

By MrsPramm — On Dec 27, 2013

If you decide to go with wool for children or babies you need to make sure that you use the very softest, finest wool available. I've found that kids will almost always fuss when they are put in wool, just because it's a little bit too rough on sensitive skin.

I'm sure they'd get used to it if it was the only thing they were ever given to wear, but since we have so many synthetic fabrics, they probably won't get enough exposure to really get used to it.

And the last thing you want, when looking for warm baby pajamas, is something that will make them itch and feel prickly all night.

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