Are Sleep Sacks Really Safe For Your Baby to Sleep In?
Mabies need extra support while sleeping–what better way to hit the sack than to literally be in a sack? Infant sleeping bags, better known as sleep sacks, are blankets your baby wears to stay warm and safe at night. Also, they’re adorable and make your baby look extra cozy.
Sleep sacks are not only adorable but necessary for an added layer of protection. Infant sleep sacks are known to be safer than any other type of bedding in preventing sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). You might be wondering: how are sleep sacks safe?
In this article, we’ll illuminate the reasons why sleep sacks are so effective for newborns and how sleep sacks work.
Put simply, a sleep sack is a very basic and easy way to keep your child warm without suffocating them. Functioning as a wearable blanket, it meshes with your baby’s torso, legs, feet, and toes that are tucked neatly in the sack.
The sack itself is sleeveless but sometimes can come in long sleeves, allowing the hands and feet to be free and wild without restrictions on movement. A zipper or a snap function runs along the front of a sleep sack, so you have easier access to get your child ready for bed. As a mother, putting little limbs into footsie pajamas knows the stress of this effort–luckily, sleep sacks make it easy. Dirty diapers become easy to reach.
How are sleep sacks safe?
Sleep sack safety is a huge concern for new parents trying them out for the first time. They can rest easy, though, knowing that they’re proven to work and recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Blanket benefits without the risk
Babies are overwhelmed with the amount of soft and comfy blankets they get as gifts. But remember to ditch the blankets during sleep times. The AAP recommends loose bedding in the crib until at least 12 months old.
Blankets are more likely to suffocate and strangulate infants, especially if they become loose and can block breathing. Sleep sacks still provide that warmth and coziness without the risk of suffocation. Save the blankets for your baby’s older years when they have more control over their bodies and can use them on their own. If you’re dying to use the blankets, bring them to the park for a picnic or under supervision during tummy time.
Rolling Over Becomes Simplified
Most sleep sacks are sleeveless for a specific reason: to have the infant’s arms free and flying so that if they do happen to roll onto their bellies, they can use their arms to roll backwards again.
If a baby somehow ends up face down on their bed, the SIDS likelihood increases. This is one of the reasons sleep sacks became popular in the 1990s, to reduce cases of SIDS.
Sleep sacks have extra room for babies to kick their legs, which can increase hip circulation and strength. Wrapping a baby too tightly can cut off movement and cause dislocation or dysplasia.
What’s Better: Swaddling or Sleep Sacks
Swaddling is so common for newborns. Wrapping a baby in a light blanket from the neck down like a burrito is meant to replicate the feeling of being in the mother’s womb. When swaddling is achieved correctly and adult supervision is in place, infants can actually be calmed down and achieve greater sleep. However, when babies begin to roll around 8 weeks old, swaddling becomes questionable.
For example, with a baby’s arms pinned down to their sides, and they try to flip onto their belly or onto their back, they can’t. That’s when the risk of SIDS becomes heightened, and suffocation may occur.
As a professional recommendation, closely watch your baby when swaddled if they roll onto its belly. Never swaddle them during sleep if they begin to roll over and increase movement. Sleeveless sleep sacks are great for babies who are rolling. This prevents suffocation or strangulation. When newborns pass the swaddling mark, sleep sacks are the logical next step.
Newborns are eligible to wear sleep sacks as well, but keep in mind that sizing is fitted to your baby so that the fabric doesn’t cover their head. Check sizing charts and manufacturing guidelines.
How long can babies use sleep sacks?
Babies can use their sleep sacks up to two years old or toddler age. Depending on your baby’s size, there are sleep sacks that fit them. Larger sleep sacks can fit newborns up to about 30 pounds and 40 inches tall. When your baby outgrows a sleep sack, blankets are the next step.
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What’s Better: Swaddling or Sleep Sacks
When putting your baby to sleep, keep these safety measures in mind:
● Aim to put your baby on his or her back every single time until they reach 1 year old. A baby cannot sleep on his or her side or tummy for fear of loss of breathing. If a baby can roll back and forth from tummy to back, then it’s ok to place them wherever—but sticking to the back is paramount.
● Baby pajama outfits aren’t just for fashion–they’re for safety too. Remove any strings or ties from pajamas and make sure the head is uncovered. A sleep sack comes into play by covering the body with the material without getting the head or face involved.
● Giving your baby a pacifier at bedtime can help prevent SIDS from occurring. If you are currently breastfeeding, hold off until the baby is 3-4 weeks old or until they’re accustomed to breastfeeding before giving them a pacifier. If your baby dislikes pacifiers, it’s okay, don’t force them. Also, avoid attaching the pacifier to the baby’s neck or stuffed animals, or even the sleep sack. The pacifier is specifically for bedtime or naptime.
● Home cardiorespiratory monitors do not reduce the risk of SIDS. The monitors are meant to track a baby’s heart rate and breathing. Consequently, there have been no studies that prove they are accurate in depicting a baby’s need to achieve space during bedtime. They’re meant to track heart rate and breathing.
Are bedtime routines important?
Bedtime routines are critical for safety, consistency, and better moods all around. Your baby’s sleep schedule may vary, but a consistent routine is really great for calming down the nervous system and preparing the baby’s body and mind for bedtime. The routine can become established at around 4-6 months.
Some activities for the bedtime routine:
● Have more fun activities earlier in the afternoon or morning.
● Turn off technological devices and screens.
● Place your baby in warm water for relaxation.
● Touch your baby’s back with soft movements.
● If desired, give your baby a pacifier.
● Regardless of your voice, sing to your baby or play soft music like classical or instrumentals.
● Read your baby a happy story.
A baby’s sleep routine has the best results if you’re sticking to it. Plan outings and family parties ahead of time. When bedtime is changed, try to remember to go back to the schedule and routine as soon as you can. This works in your favor as a parent as well.
Can you clarify tummy time?
Tummy time is when your baby is awake, but you put her on her tummy. Contrary to popular belief, tummy time can strengthen your baby’s neck, shoulder, and arm muscles. Also, flat spots on the baby’s head can also be prevented from sleeping on the back. Tummy time requires parent supervision, so make sure you’re awake, and it’s during the day when you’ve had enough sleep.
How can I reduce my baby’s risk of SIDS?
Aside from purchasing a sleep sack, here’s what else you can do:
● Make sure your baby has all her vaccinations up to date. All these shots can further protect your baby from severe childhood diseases and potentially stop SIDS. It can also prevent spreading infections and ensure their own health.
● Don’t smoke or vape around your baby, and keep smokers away from them as well. Secondhand smoke can increase the risk of SIDS in your baby. Keeping a smoke-free car and home is paramount to a consistently healthy life for you and your child.
● This goes without saying but don't smoke, drink or do drugs around your baby, especially during pregnancy. Mothers and fathers who are drunk or high are prone to negligence and can put their babies at risk of SIDS.
● Attend all prenatal checkups during pregnancy to prevent the risk of SIDS.
Kaiya Angel is here to protect and care for your baby during their most vulnerable moments of sleep and naptime. Make sure your child is protected and cared for when you’re sleeping as well. Check out our collection of high-quality sleep sacks so you can rest easy, knowing your baby will be safe and warm.