Why use a baby sleeping bag?
You’re not alone - one of the most frequently asked questions from parents and babywear retailers is, “Why use a baby sleeping bag?” And the next question is, “What’s the difference between a baby sleeping bag, a baby sleep sack and a wearable blanket?” We’ll share with you some questions we receive and give you a crash course on sleeping bags to help you decide the best and safest way to give your little one a good night’s sleep.
What should I sleep my baby in when baby arrives?
Before using a baby sleeping bag, many midwives suggest swaddling a newborn so that baby feels snug like in the womb, to help baby relax and sleep better. Keeping baby contained, can make baby feel safe and settled. This was the impetus for the design of our Newborn Swaddle Bag (see photo above) which was created to simplify swaddling a newborn in the traditional way. Baby is wrapped using the wings fastened into a bag, which is zipped up to keep baby cosy and secure. Our Newborn Swaddle Bag was put to the test in a maternity hospital, and parents reported their newborn slept better.
When should I stop swaddling and use a baby sleeping bag?
A baby sleeping bag is generally used during the later stage of a newborn’s development, usually around three months of age, but it is really up to the parent or carer when to transition baby to a sleeping bag. There are many types of baby sleeping bags to choose from, in size, shape, colour and fabric type. Sleeping bags are looser than swaddling a baby, allowing for movement. When baby is able to roll, which is usually at around 6 months of age, baby needs to use their arms to push themselves up if they roll onto their tummy. The risks of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) reduces for babies in sleeping bags. Our Baby Sleeping Bags come with poppers in the armholes to allow easy transitioning from being swaddled when the poppers are closed, to having their arms out when the poppers are opened (see photo below).
What is a sleep sack or a wearable blanket?
In America, baby sleeping bags are called baby sleep sacks and wearable blankets. The Americans describe these products as blankets that baby can wear that is a safer alternative than a blanket. Essentially, they are sleeping bags with zippers, for baby to sleep in, and are what we call a baby sleeping bag. In Australia we are adopting more and more American words in our usual speech, such as cookie (and not biscuit) and you will see the terms baby sleep sack and wearable blanket being use more and more.
What is a safe sleeping bag?
In Australia, Red Nose describes a safe sleeping bag as a sleeping bag that is constructed in such a way that baby cannot slip inside the bag and become completely covered. The sleeping bag must be the correct size for baby with a fitted neck, armholes (or sleeves) and no hood. Our sleeping bags have armholes and either a zipper up the front or around the side seam and come in two sizes. (See below for baby sleeping in our toddler sleeping bag.) It is always incumbent on the carer to ensure a baby sleeping bag fits their baby and that baby is sleeping in a safe sleep environment.
Red Nose remind parents and carers that when using a sleeping bag, ensure baby is dressed according to room temperature, and not necessarily the temperature outdoors. We use merino wool for our baby sleeping bags, a natural fibre known for its thermoregulating ability, that is, its ability to help keep baby warmer in nurseries with colder temperatures, and cooler in warmer temperatures.
When selling children's nightwear in Australia, we have Australian Standards which require baby sleeping bags to be tested for their fire safety. This is a mandatory test and the standards require the garment to meet a list of requirements to ensure fire safety and they are rated accordingly. Our baby sleeping bags and toddler sleeping bags have been tested at a laboratory in Melbourne and have the lowest fire rating, mainly due to merino wool being naturally fire resistant.
Choosing the right sleeping bag for body temperature
Sleeping bags come in different fabrics and different weights and Thermal Overall Grade (TOG) ratings to help baby maintain their body temperature in view of the nursery temperature. The advantage of a merino wool baby sleeping bag is that merino wool is the miracle fibre making it perfect to use for baby sleeping bags. The challenge all merino wool brands face is explaining that TOG is not a true measure of a baby sleeping bag's ability to keep baby warm and comfortable. TOG is a measure of how well a fabric insulates, whereas merino wool is also thermoregulating making it more superior and more comfortable for a baby to sleep in
What should a baby wear under a sleeping bag?
Always consider the nursery temperature where you baby sleeps, and not the outside weather. Many of our customers live in Darwin and Far North Queensland, and baby sleeps in an air conditioned nursery. You can layer your baby’s sleep clothing to ensure the right temperature for your baby. We recommend using sleepwear made from nature fibres, as they breathe better reducing the risk of your baby feeling clammy and uncomfortable. We have a layering guide for parents and carers to refer to when dressing their baby for sleep.
Are baby sleeping bags really necessary?
Research has shown the benefits of using a safe baby sleeping bag are that:
- they reduce the risk of bedclothes covering baby’s face,
- they delay baby rolling on to their tummy during sleep until baby’s past the age of peak risk of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI),
- they promote back sleeping as the zipper opens to the front, and
- they keep baby’s temperature at a more constant level while sleeping.
Many parents have several baby sleeping bags for varying nursery temperatures and seasons, especially those that don’t use central heating or air conditioning in their homes. Parents say that sleeping bags are a great choice because they keep baby warm and cosy whilst in the safety of their sleep sack and they are an excellent alternative or addition to using blankets.
Can I use a blanket with a baby sleeping bag?
The answer is, yes. Red Nose say, “If additional warmth is needed, use a single lightweight blanket over the sleeping bag, ensuring baby’s feet are at the end of the cot and the blanket can only reach as far as baby’s chest and is tucked in firmly so it cannot ride up and cover baby’s head during sleep.” Our merino baby blankets are lightweight and measure 110cm x 120cm, making them suitable to use in most cribs and bassinets.
How do I choose which sleeping bag is right for my baby?
After your baby has outgrown our Newborn Swaddle Bag, you will want to consider how to transition your baby to a sleeping bag. Our baby sleeping bags are designed to easily transition baby from swaddling to a sleeping bag because the design of the armholes includes press studs so you can swaddle baby and then open the armholes as baby becomes more mobile and thread baby's arms through the armholes. Some parents skip straight to our toddler bags, because they also have just one popper in the armhole to reduce the size of the armholes. Although our toddler bags are sized for 6-24 month olds, we know of parents who sleep their 3 month old babies in them.
Here are some other items to consider:
Night time nappy changes
Our Merino baby sleeping bags come with two way zippers for easy nappy changes during the night when you don’t want to wake baby up. Our toddler sleeping bags have a zipper than opens at the bottom, to make nappy changing easier during the night.
Your nursery temperature, and the season will always be part of your decision. Lighter weight sleeping bags with a lower TOG are best for the warmer temperatures. Our classic pastel collection are 0.4 TOG and we have our double layer sleepy animal prints for the cooler temperatures. Combined with a lightweight merino wool blanket, this combination can work all year round.
We have designed sleeping bags in various colours and prints, made from pure merino wool. Our double layer bags are made with a layer of organic cotton on the outside with a cute print of a sleepy animal.
Safety and size
Research recommends using a baby sleeping bag because it reduces the risk of SIDS, and Red Nose recommend the bag have a fitted neck and armholes.
We're here to help you choose the best baby sleeping bag
Picking the right option for you and your baby is easy at Merineo. We have dropdowns at the top of our website, separating our sleep products into categories to make your choice easier. You can select the right sleeping bag according to size, temperature or style. You can be assured of quality given our sleeping bags are all certified as Made in Australia. If you have any further questions, please use our chat box, which links directly to our founder Claire's mobile phone so you can receive a response as soon as possible.