There’s a lot to consider when buying baby clothes for your child. And many parents are quite forgivably distracted (if not overwhelmed) by the sheer amount of designs, patterns and styles they come across when searching for the best sleep sack for their baby.
However, two of the most important things parents need to keep at the front of their mind when choosing baby clothes are: safety and comfort. We explore what parents should consider when making sure their baby’s clothes meet important standards for both these things.
Part 1: Safety
Children face a few different threats when they’re very young and without the right clothes to sleep in, the dangers of suffocation, overheating, catching colds and more can increase.
Babies must stop being swaddled after 2 months, according to the advice of health organizations such as the CDC and AAP. It’s important that whatever piece of clothing they upgrade to offers them certain qualities to avoid the risks that swaddling creates, such as suffocation and SIDS, overheating, and hip dysplasia.
A few of the fundamentals of a safe baby sleep sack include:
- A design that allows growing babies enough space around the hips and legs so that muscles can develop naturally (avoiding development problems with joints and muscles).
- The sleep sack makes it possible for your baby to roll themselves back onto their backs if they find themselves on their front. If not, your baby may get trapped in a position where it’s harder to breathe.
- The material and structure of the sleep sack should keep warm air in while still being breathable. Thick and stuffy fabrics can cause your child to overheat while fabrics that are too thin for the climate will allow precious heat to escape and make it easier for them to catch a cold.
The material and structure of the sleep sack should keep warm air in while still being breathable.
What Does Well Fitting Mean?
Baby clothes must be snug and not loose-fitting to avoid health risks such as suffocation, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
This means that there should be no unnecessary looseness in any particular area of the garment that could fold up or bunch in a way that would make it harder for your child to breathe.
Equally, clothes mustn’t be too tight as this would also make it harder for them to breathe and could cause pinching.
Ultimately, the sleep sack you choose should be age appropriate as well as matched to your child’s body. For instance, just because the product description reads 2-12 months, it doesn’t mean that the brand’s size fits all babies within this age range.
Most companies will also offer a variation in size (Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large) that will offer minor (but also important) variation that can be matched to your baby’s specific size.
Winter Safety Advice
Winter presents many challenges for parents. As well as the desire to keep energy usage down both for cost and health reasons (too much radiator heat can dry out the air in your home making it harder to breathe and increasing skin irritation), parents must guard against their children getting too cold when temperatures drop.
The good news is that “cool” temperatures are fine for babies and despite your impulse to make their room’s extra toasty, this isn’t actually helpful as all humans (including babies) naturally sleep better in lower temperatures rather than when they’re too warm. This means you don’t need to keep the heating on full blast throughout the night!
The bad news is that what “cool” means for your child is different to what it means to you. A good rule of thumb is that children should be dressed in one extra layer than you would be comfortable wearing at night, so rather than changing the heat setting of your home, it’s better to adjust what your child is wearing.
This starts with providing them with a warm baby sleep sack but also adding a sufficient amount of layering beneath the garment to keep them warm, such as rompers and thin cotton bodysuits.
If possible, it is recommended that you sleep in the same room as your child which will allow you to judge temperature changes more easily as well as watch out for signs of discomfort in your child when they sleep. Also, things like shivering and blue skin due to coldness can’t always be visible through baby monitors.
Don’t Rely On Blankets
Keep in mind that things like blankets can pose a danger to children when they’re too young. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the risk of soft bedding only reduces significantly when a child is above 12 months.
This means that the best sleep sack for your baby should be sufficient in keeping your child’s body temperature at a good level even in cold winter months, without the need for additional sheets and soft bedding.
Safety can be closely connected with overall health when you consider how easy it is for babies to catch a cold. If they’re too cold for significant periods of time, their energy loss can be huge, making them extremely vulnerable to illnesses and things like colds. Research also shows us that babies are much more at risk from many pathogenic viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites.
Keeping them warm, conserving their energy, and improving their ability to sleep is a vital part of keeping them safe and healthy.
Part 2: Comfort
Comfort is such an important aspect of a good baby sleep sack. Even for adults, without a good level of comfort in the clothes you wear at night, the ability to get a good night’s sleep can be drastically reduced.
For babies who must recover each night from a high level of stimulation and learning that can tire them out, you want your baby’s sleep sack to be as comfortable as possible so that they get the recovery time they need. Without this, your child may be cranky, fussy, tired and unhappy during the day, which can have a knock on effect on some many things.
Children hate fabrics that are itchy, baggy, too thin, or generally not comfortable.
Children hate fabrics that are itchy, baggy, too thin, or generally not comfortable. And this will keep them from getting the sleep they need — requiring extra attention and soothing.
When looking for the best baby sleep sack, look for fabrics that are soft to the touch on both the exterior and interior of the garment. Cotton and cotton blends are great for softness, and unless you are in a cold climate, should also provide your child with a good level of warmth to keep them nice and cozy at night.
For parents who live in places where temperatures drop quite drastically at night, consider going with fleece, which is incredibly soft but also offers added insulation.
At Sleeping Baby, we have a whole fleece range for parents who want to guarantee their children are always toasty in the coldest of months and in the chilliest of places.
What Type of Sleep Sacks are Comfortable?
The best baby sleep sack offers a good amount of restrictive comfort so that your baby can enjoy that feeling of snugness that helps them to nod off.
This often comes in the form of an all-in-one piece, sleepsuit or sleeping bag that contains your baby’s limbs and offers a flexible barrier that children can push their limbs against (a bit like the swaddle but allowing for a more healthy amount of movement as your child’s muscles develop).
Many parents will find that without this it takes a while for their baby to adjust to the lack of boundaries within the clothes they sleep in. This can happen when you go from using a swaddle to not using any swaddle transition product at all.
Our Zipadee-Zip was designed with this in mind, giving babies a way to enjoy all the comforts of being enclosed without restricting the important movement they need to sleep safely.
Having said this, if you decide not to use any swaddle transition product at all, there’s nothing wrong with this either. Some kids adapt much better than others or may not enjoy a swaddle alternative in the way another does.
How to Find the Perfect Combination of Safe and Comfortable
When looking for the best baby sleep sack for your little one, you’re free to choose whatever design you wish. All you need to do is make sure that what you’re buying is both safe and comfortable for your baby. And one of the best ways to do this is by researching a brand and reviews from past customers.