At your baby shower, you were probably gifted several swaddles. And they may have worked for your baby as a newborn, but there’s a time when you’ll be switching from swaddle to sleep sack. You’ll be using the sleep sack with your baby for a lot longer than you used the swaddle. Because there are so many benefits of a sleep sack for both babies and toddlers.
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When to Use a Sleep Sack
The exact age when to use a sleep sack is going to vary from baby to baby. The reason is because some babies begin rolling sooner than others.
For your baby’s safety, you will want begin switching from swaddle to sleep sack as soon as they first show signs of rolling. You’ll always want to be putting your baby into their crib or bassinet on their back if they’re under a year of age.
Once a baby begins to roll, they’re going to go from their back to their belly. An unweighted, cotton sleep sack won’t prevent your baby from rolling onto their tummy. And if they don’t have their hands and arms free to be able to help move themselves, they could be at a higher risk of SIDS. That’s why it’s very important that when your baby is starting to roll, you need to begin switching from swaddle to sleep sack.
If your baby hasn’t began showing signs of rolling by 3 months of age, go ahead and begin that transition anyway. Usually between 10 – 12 weeks is going to be the ideal age when to use a sleep sack.
Switching from Swaddle to Sleep Sack
When it’s time to make the big transition, don’t be nervous. Yes, your baby has been used to being tightly swaddled while sleeping over the last few months. But they’re going to learn how to sleep just as well without the swaddle. Switching from swaddle to sleep sack is easy if you do it gradually. So how do you go from switching from swaddle to sleep sack?
I recommend doing the transition from swaddle to sleep sack over the period of 6 days and nights. Here’s how you can do it:
Step 1: On nights 1 – 3 keep just one arm in the swaddle. The other arm will be out of the swaddle.
Step 2: On nights 4 – 6, have both arms out of the swaddle, but keep your baby’s legs swaddled.
Step 3: Then on nights 7 going forward, fully switch from swaddle to sleep sack. Your baby will be sleeping in their sleep sack going forward.
3 Benefits of a Sleep Sack
There are so many benefits of a sleep sack. And they’re not only beneficial for babies but they have their place for helping toddlers as well.
The top 3 benefits of a sleep sack are:
(1) Unweighted sleep sacks are safer for babies then blankets or quilts
(2) They keep babies warm by regulating their body temperature and helping to to sleep comfortably all night long.
(3) Sleep sacks can help to prevent crib climbing and keep your toddler in their crib longer
Benefits of a Sleep Sack to Prevent Crib Climbing
One of the other huge benefits of a sleep sack for older babies and toddlers, is that it can help to prevent climbing out of crib.
Of course you want to be keeping your baby as safe as possible. The thought of them potentially trying to climb out of the crib at night and fall is very alarming to parents.
A lot of families I work with reach out to me because they toddler began climbing out of the crib so they had to move to a floor bed for peace of mind. But for children under 22 months of age, a floor or big bed likely isn’t going to work. Because children under 22 months of age aren’t cognitively ready to learn how to STAY in that bed all night long. And then parents run into the problem with their toddler coming into their bed in the middle of the night.
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Why Do Sleep Sacks Work
The sleep sack is going to help to keep your baby warm. There’s 2 reasons why sleep sacks work to keep your baby warm.
First, going back to safety, if your baby is under a year, you don’t want to have any loose objects in your baby’s crib. So that means no blankets. The AAP’s Safe Sleep Guidelines don’t recommend anything in your baby’s crib other than the fitted sheet on the mattress for babies under a year of age.
Second, even if you were to add a blanket for older babies, it probably won’t stay on them all night. Babies are super active sleepers. They just move around a lot when they sleep. I remember watching my daughter do 360’s all night long when she was a little over a year old. And that’s really normal for babies and toddlers to move a lot when they sleep.
If your baby is moving all around the crib throughout the night, it’s very unlikely the blanket will stay on them to keep them warm. Whereas the benefits of a sleep sack is that it’s going to stay on your baby all night. That will help them regulate their body temperature better, which will lead to a nice and comfortable sleep.
What Sleep Sack to Use
I like a basic arms free, cotton sleep sack. My favorite sleep sack for babies is the Snuggy Buddy. The benefits of a sleep sack with Snuggy Buddy is that they have a small lovey attached to the chest. A lot of babies find that holding on to a little stuffed animal or lovey can be very soothing. And this sleep sack allows babies to still have access to a lovey, without having it loose in the crib.
My favorite sleep sack for older babies and toddlers is June and the Moon. The benefits of a sleep sack for toddlers with June and the Moon is that it’s a backwards zipping sleep sack. And by that I mean the zipper is on the back, rather than on the chest. Some toddlers are quite smart and they know how to unzip their sleep sack.
With the backwards zipping sleep sack, your toddler won’t be able to work their way out of it.
I’ve worked with a handful of families whose toddlers would take off their clothes and diaper at bedtime to protest. You can imagine how challenging that is to get a toddler to sleep when they’re completely naked and refusing to put on their clothes.
I even worked with a couple of families whose toddler would poop at bedtime, reaching into their diaper and throw the poop all over the room. I can’t even imagine what a mess those poor parents had to deal with.
So you can see how the backwards zipping sleep sack can be really beneficial with toddlers.
When to Stop Using Sleep Sack
As a Pediatric Sleep Coach, I recommend keeping children in sleep sack until you transition them to a big bed, or until they outgrow it.
A lot of companies are beginning to make larger sleep sacks for toddlers. So once your toddler outgrows the sleep sacks you’ve used with them as a baby, you can buy them a larger toddler sleep sack.
But if your toddler begins voicing their opinion about it, you certainly don’t have to keep them in a sleep sack. Some do want a little more independence after the age of two. And if they’re not trying to climb out of their crib, you don’t have to force them to wear once. Some battles just aren’t worth fighting.
Will a Sleep Sack Help My Baby Sleep Better?
If your child isn’t sleeping well, the sleep sack isn’t likely going to be the magic solution to get them sleeping through the night. There’s usually more behavioral changes that need to be worked on, like breaking the nightly bottle habit or rocking to sleep.
So if your baby does have a sleep association, breaking that habit and teaching them how to fall asleep independently is likely going to be the solution for getting your baby to sleep like a champ. And if you’re looking for help in that area, I’m happy to help.
I work with families to teach their child how to fall asleep happily at bedtime, sleep through the night, and take awesome naps during the day. I use gentle sleep training methods so that you don’t have to leave your baby alone to cry it out. Schedule a free Sleep Evaluation with me today so that I can get a better understanding of your baby’s sleep issues & we’ll see if my program is the right fit for your family.
About the Author
I’m Kaley Medina, the proud founder of Live Love Sleep®. I live in Texas with my husband and high school sweetheart, Zeke, along with our two wonderful children, Evalyn and Leo, and our furry companion, Louie.
My journey into the world of sleep consultancy began with the sleep struggles of my own daughter, Evalyn. From her early days, she proved to be a challenging sleeper, staying awake for waaaaaay too long and causing many sleepless nights. I tried everything I could think of, from feeding her to sleep to bouncing on a yoga ball until my legs ached to the delicate process of transitioning her to her crib without waking her. I even resorted to late-night vacuuming while wearing her in a baby carrier….needless to say, none of it work.
The constant sleep deprivation left me frazzled and unable to enjoy precious moments with my family. Desperate for a solution, I ventured into the world of sleep training when Evalyn turned six months. To my surprise,
gentler methods yielded incredible results, transforming our lives. Fueled by this success, I became a Certified Sleep Consultant and founded Live Love Sleep®. As your Pediatric Sleep Consultant, I understand that a child’s sleep is influenced by various factors, including diet, sleep environment, routines, schedules, developmental milestones, and so much more.
I craft personalized sleep plans that consider the bigger picture to solve your child’s sleep challenges comprehensively. What sets my services apart is the ongoing support I provide, ensuring your family reaches its sleep goals within weeks.
A former client described the experience as “utterly LIFE CHANGING.” I’m committed to helping parents like you and your child get the rest you need and deserve. Let’s work together to achieve better sleep and a happier, healthier family life.