Babies, and Swaddles, and Sleepsacks - Oh My! (Updated 2020)

 

Multiple studies have made it clear: it is dangerous to put a loose blanket in a baby’s crib.  Accidental suffocation in bed is the leading cause of injury-related deaths in infants.  So, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Institute of Health, and safety experts have warned parents against using soft bedding in infants' cribs, either over or under the baby. That includes blankets. 

Many doctors and experts suggest swaddling newborn infants.  Swaddles wrap the baby’s limbs tightly to the child’s body, mimicking the containment of the womb.  This gives the child a sense of comfort and security.  And they can help keep an infant warm.  Swaddles or some variant thereof are found in many different cultures throughout the ages.  Ancient votive offerings and grave goods from Crete and Cyprus place swaddles as early as 4000-4500 years ago!  Who knew?! 

For more information and tips on swaddling, check out this article on Whattoexpect.com. For a video how-to guide to swaddling, click here.

While swaddles are recommended for newborns, when a baby starts TRYING to roll over, usually around 2-3 months, the American Academy of Pediatrics warns against the use of the swaddle. Why?  Swaddling could cause your baby to get stuck facedown when rolling over.  Swaddled infants lying face down are at twelve times the risk for SUID as an unswaddled infant in the same position.  Moreover, there are some studies the indicated swaddle after the baby is 2-3 months old can cause developmental issues.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and many other pediatric experts instead suggest parents transition the baby to wearable blankets (sleep sacks).  A properly fitting, well-constructed wearable blanket is a much safer way to keep an infant who could roll over warm during sleep time. Why is a sleep sack/wearable blanket so great?

  • Loose blankets in the crib can cover your baby’s face and cause breathing problems. Sleep sacks help babies sleep safely by decreasing the chance of suffocation.
  • Sleep sacks provide a feeling of security—like when your baby was in the womb.
  • Sleep sacks help babies maintain the correct body temperature without becoming overheated from too many blankets. Babies are at higher risk of sleep-related death if they become overheated. Remember, only dress your baby in one layer more than it would take you to feel comfortable.

When should you stop using wearable blankets?  Some experts say you can start to introduce pillows, loose blankets, crib bumpers, or other soft objects into a bed after a child is at least 12 months old.  Others say to wait until a child is two years old to be as safe as possible.   

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