Are sleep sacks better than swaddles?

New parents often worry about the comfort and safety of their newborn, and if you are one such new parent, this article is for you. 

By now, you perhaps already know that babies require safety and comfort to sleep soundly. The question is, how do you assure that? You have two options, sleep sacks and swaddles. Both of these are loose blankets that keep your baby comfortable without riding up the face; however, there are a few differences that you need to consider.

let me answer from experience, are sleep sacks better than swaddles?


A swaddle is the first product used to wrap a baby right on his/her first day at the hospital. Either it can be a blanket tightly wrapped around the baby or an item specially made into a swaddle that can be fastened with velcro or some form of adhesive. 

Mostly swaddle tightly wrap the babies, comforting them. Since infants are used to living in a constricted environment in the womb, unrestricted air around them makes them uncomfortable. Swaddle also restricts Moro reflex, which can wake up the infants if they are not properly swaddled. 

Overall, swaddles are safe for infants until they learn how to roll over.

Pros

  • Swaddling allows infants to sleep for a longer time: It keeps babies more secure in an enclosed environment. 
  • It creates less anxiety among infants: The extra weight swaddling applies resembles the feeling of being held, thereby calming the baby
  • Eliminates the chance of face scratching: Infants have razor-sharp nails, and often they end up scratching their face with those. Swaddling eliminates the risk of scratching. 
  • Prevents startle reflex: Moro reflex can cause your baby to wake up; however, it can be reduced with a swaddle
  • Safety position: Swaddling keeps the baby on the back, which is the safest position

Cons

  • The issue with body heat: Swaddling using a warm blanket can raise the infant’s body temperature, making them uncomfortable
  • Hip Dysplasia: In the swaddling position, the infant’s hips and knees are fully extended in an unnatural position which can lead to hip dislocation or hip dysplasia. 
  • Rollover: Once the infant learns to roll, they can roll over and land on their stomach while being swaddled, which leads to suffocation
  • Sleep dependency: If swaddling is done for a long time, your baby can get used to it and might require swaddling to sleep. Though it’s not necessarily a bad thing, they have to weaned out of it eventually.

Sleep sacks

A sleep sack, a.k.a a wearable blanket, is similar to Snuggies for babies. Thus many parents choose to use a blanket for their infant right from the start, while others opt for it when the babies can no longer be swaddled. 

Many parents also use sleep sacks as a transitional product between swaddles and blankets. Ideally, it’s not advisable to have loose items in the crib or bassinet of the baby until they have greater control of their body. Sleep sacks thus provide the ideal solution. 

Sleep sacks are mostly made from a slightly warm material like wool or fleece. However, you can find cotton ones as well. 

Pros

  • Ideal warmth to babies: Babies cannot kick off a sleep sack like a blanket; thus, they get the right amount of warmth required to sleep well. 
  • Easy to put on without waking the baby: You can slip them on right over your kid’s clothes and zips in the front
  • Freedom of movement: There are infants who don’t like swaddling; a sleep sack is ideal for them as it eliminates the need for swaddling, thereby giving infants a lot of moving space. 
  • Convenient to use: A sleep sack takes very little space to pack and is thus ideal for traveling

Cons

  • Sleep sacks are constraining: Infants needs their space to sleep well, and at times, a sleep sack gets too constraining 
  • Traps heat: While sleep sacks are great for colder climates, they might make kids feel hot during the summer months as mostly these are not made from breathable fabrics
  • Active babies cannot sleep in sleep sacks: Sleep sacks can become ineffective for kids who love to move. Even with velcro in all the right places, your baby might wiggle out
  • The issue with rollover: When kids learn how to roll over, sleep sacks might not be a good option anymore

sleep sacks and swaddles: things to consider

While making a choice between the two, the first thing you need to keep in mind is that swaddling restricts the movement of your baby. However, this can come in handy if you are dealing with a 2-6 months old infant who generally has the tendency to fall from the bed. Thus swaddling will restrict the movement of such babies and keep them safe. 

Are sleep sacks better than swaddles?
Are sleep sacks better than swaddles? Things to Consider

Sleep sack, on the other hand, is ideal for kids in the age range of 6 months- 1 year. The best part about sleep sack is that you can continue using it till your infant becomes a toddler. Plus, your baby can move with ease in a sleeping sack. 

Things to consider:

Keeping the basic differences between the two in mind, here are a few factors you must consider while deciding between the two. 

Comfort

The comfort of your baby’s sleeping blanket is determined by how free the blanket is, along with its softness and material. Ideally, the blanket material should be extremely soft and not itchy in any way. Plus, it’s also advisable to keep the temperature of the place in mind before making a choice. For instance, if the temperature is warm, a swaddle is perfect; however, if it’s cold, a blanket is a good option.

Safety

Safety is of prime concern while choosing any sleep material for your infant. Besides ensuring comfort, no matter whichever option you opt for, make sure your little one can breathe. If they are in the age of rolling, make sure they don’t have their arms confined in any way. Plus, as the child grows a couple of months, it’s advisable to check that their legs are not confirmed too tightly to eliminate the chances of hip dysplasia. 

Style

No matter which option you are opting for ( sleep sacks or swaddles), there are multiple options out there. You can either go for the neutral-colored ones to pair with everything, or you can go for cute patterns that you like. Many brands also offer a pack of three or four options. 

Size

The blankets you choose should be big enough to wrap your little one well. There are multiple sizes available that you can choose as per your baby’s height and weight. While a small receiving blanket can be enough during the early days, your baby is sure to grow out of it in no time. 

As your baby grows, he/she might not be comfortable in the swaddle blanket anymore, and you now might have to shift to sleeping sacks. Since sleeping sacks have some structure, you can choose from the different sizes based on weight and height.

Convenience

Swaddling makes it difficult to do the middle-of-the-night diaper changes. In such cases, a blanket is a good idea. However, there are some swaddles with velcro that make way for an easy diaper change. 


Are sleep sacks better than swaddles?

Both swaddles and sleep sacks have their pros and cons. Now that you know about them in detail, it’s time to make a choice between the two. 

As it has been established, a swaddle comes in handy only for a few months after the birth, specifically, till your baby learns to roll over. Babies learn this skill by 6-8 months of age. After that, it’s not advisable to use swaddles anymore.

Plus, the swaddle should be tight enough so that it doesn’t become a suffocation hazard for the baby. 

Sleep sacks, on the other hand, are required when babies move out of their swaddles. These are safe for kids of any age as long as they are of the right size. Choosing the right size is important, lest it rides over the infant’s face.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to choose a blanket for a newborn?

There are no rules while choosing a blanket for your newborn; it’s a matter of your preference. However, ideally, you should have a swaddle blanket for your newborn to keep him/her comfortable and a sleep sack for slightly older infants. 

Can you stop using both swaddle and sleep sack? 

You can stop using swaddle blankets when your baby turns four months. However, it’s advisable to continue using a sleep sack till your baby is ten months of age. Some parents, however, continue to use a sleep sack till their infant becomes a toddler. Following this, the infant is shifted to a crib mattress. 

Should babies be on their stomachs in a sleep sack?

No. Infants should be put on their backs in a sleep sack. This is because, on their backs, babies are less likely to get Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SID which can happen if infants roll over in their sleep. 

If you are asking are sleep sacks better than swaddles? I must say Both swaddles and sleep sacks are essential for infants. They cater to their needs at different stages, comforting the infants as they grow. It’s only comfortable sleeping that keeps kids happy. 

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