There are so many great wearable options for keeping your baby cozy and comfortable while they sleep. From swaddles to sleep sacks, it can be overwhelming trying to choose what will be best for your baby at each stage. What works best for the newborn stage won’t work as well with an older baby. This article will explain what to look for at every age and stage and provide you with information on a few of the options.
Safe sleep is something we take seriously at The Mama Coach so here are some safety tips to keep in mind when selecting a swaddle or sleep sack:
- The Canadian Pediatric Society advises against the use of any soft bedding, including blankets and pillows, which can be a suffocation risk.
- If you choose to swaddle make sure that you use a safe swaddling technique (if you aren’t sure how to swaddle safely the Canadian Pediatric Society has tips here.)
- Make sure that the fabric is positioned to always remain clear of your baby’s mouth and nose.
- Once your baby can roll they should no longer be swaddled.
- Ensure that your baby can flex their hips while wearing their sleep sack or swaddle. Fabric that is too tight over their hips can contribute to hip dysplasia.
- Choose a fabric that is breathable and that will not cause your baby to overheat. Most wearable sleep options have a TOG (thermal overall grade) rating with recommended room temperatures. (For example: a TOG 0.2-0.5 would be used for a warm room 24-27 degrees Celsius whereas a higher TOG rating of 2.5 would be used for a cooler room of 16-20 degrees Celsius).
New babies are adapting to the outside world. Lights, sounds, and movement are all quite new to them. Babies are also born with a reflex called the Moro Reflex. The Moro Reflex is when your baby appears startled, they throw their arms out, bring them back in and then usually start to cry. The Moro Reflex can occur during sleep which can contribute to a wakeup. These are a few of the reasons newborns generally prefer to be swaddled. Swaddling can help reduce the Moro Reflex and mimics a snug, womb-like environment. Swaddles can be soothing for newborns which can help promote better sleep. Here are some great options for the 0-3 month stage:
The Beluga Baby Swaddle Blanket is a traditional swaddle (a large square piece of fabric). It is made of bamboo fabric which is super soft and has a good amount of stretch. You can use any fabric to swaddle, but if you are new to swaddling I suggest using one that is breathable and has some stretch to it. The stretch allows you to create a snug swaddle that won’t unravel when baby moves.
The Woombie Original is a swaddle with a zipper that simplifies swaddling to one step. It has stretchy, breathable fabric that allows for good hip flexion. If you feel unsure about swaddling this is a great option for you.
The Nested Bean Zen Swaddle takes swaddling up a level. It’s a pre-formed swaddle so you lie baby on top and then the sides wrap around baby and fasten with Velcro strips. It has a gently weighted pad on the chest and along the sides to mimic your hand on their chest and your arms holding them. It can be used arms in or out.
The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends that you stop swaddling your baby once they show signs of rolling. This is usually around 3 months of age. This can be a difficult transition for a lot of babies. They are used to the snug environment of a swaddle and still have the Moro Reflex, which lessens as they age, but isn’t completely gone until about 5-6 months- which can cause trouble falling and staying asleep. This is when a transitional swaddle/sleep sack can be helpful to help baby slowly adjust to no longer being swaddled.
The Love To Dream Swaddle Up 50/50 is a zippered swaddle that positions baby’s hands in an up position. This is a good option for babies that like to suck their hands or have them near their face for comfort. The 50/50 is a transitional sleeper that allows you to remove the arms (they are zippered) when baby starts to roll and can no longer be swaddled. This allows you to slowly adjust baby to arms free sleep. It also has a double zipper to help with those nighttime diaper changes.
The Swaddlenot is a great option for babies transitioning from the swaddle that still require some gentle resistance for their Moro Reflex. It allows them to safely use their hands to push or roll while still being warm and covered. It is also a good option for babies that dislike being swaddled.
6 months and Older
It is recommended not to put any loose blankets in the crib with babies under a year old as the use of blankets is associated with an increased risk of SIDS and suffocation. Wearable sleep sacks are the perfect solution to keep babies warm and safe while they sleep. They are also a great option for toddlers who move a lot in their sleep making it tough to keep blankets on. Toddlers also like to get undressed and a well-placed zippered sleep sack can reduce the chances of a middle of the night wardrobe malfunction. Wearable sleep sacks can also help keep a crib climber safe by making it harder to climb out of the crib. Here are a few of the great options out there.
The Zen Sack is similar to the Zen Swaddle in that it has the gently weighted pad on the chest to help baby feel secure. It is an arms free design making it safe for babies that are now rolling and has adjustable shoulder snaps to allow for a growing baby. It has a double zipper to make nighttime diaper changes easier. The Zen Sack is a good option for babies that prefer to sleep on their stomachs as it can be worn backwards with the weighted pad on their back. It is available in cotton, bamboo, and a winter version.
Little Fishkopp is a sleeping bag that features fun, bright colours and soft 100% organic cotton. It is a great option for a baby that is ready for arms out sleep or a toddler that still moves too much to keep a blanket on. It has a bottom-up zipper to make diaper changes smoother and there is also an added protector tab that snaps over the zipper to prevent your little one from unzipping in the middle of the night. Little Fishkopp has two options for temperature “lightweight” and “standard”. It also fits long in length to accommodate a growing babe.
The Woolino 4 Season Baby Sleep Bag has the softest Merino wool lining and 100% organic cotton outer shell making it hypoallergenic for baby’s sensitive skin. The Merino wool lining also helps baby regulate their body temperature making it a suitable choice for both cooler and warmer room temperatures (no need to purchase a new sleep sack with the season). It is long and is meant to grow with baby. There are shoulder snaps and a two-way side zipper making dressing and diaper changes easier. Another key feature is the seat belt slot that allows for easy transfer from the bouncer, stroller, or car seat to the crib making this a perfect sleep bag for families on the go or who travel.
0-18 Months (Multi-Stage Options)
If the need to change sleep sacks every few months is leaving you feeling overwhelmed there are a couple of really great multi-stage options that are meant to grow along with your little one.
The Woombie Grow With Me is designed to take your baby from the newborn stage through to 18 months or 24 lbs. It is designed like the Woombie Original Baby Swaddle with a snug fit and easy zipper closure. The difference is it has an extra zipper at the bottom to allow extra material out as your baby grows (it extends up to 4 inches longer and 2.5 inches wider). It has snaps at the arms to allow for an arms-free option once baby is rolling. The Grow With Me is a great option if you want something that will grow with your baby through their different stages.
The Love To Dream Swaddle Up 50/50 is a zippered swaddle that positions baby’s hands in an up position. It is also described in the 3-6 month section but can be used from newborn to 18 months. If your newborn prefers having their hands by their face this would be a good option that would also continue to be safe for rolling babies once the arms are removed.
A good swaddle or sleep sack can help your baby fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. They can be such an important part of the bedtime routine. I hope this article helps you select the perfect one for each stage your baby goes through. If you have any questions, reach out to me here. I would love to answer them!