My friend called me with a question he had about sleep safety for his baby. During our chat, he told me a scary story that happened not long after his baby learned to roll over. In the middle of the night, he was suddenly awakened by a premonition. He immediately jumped to the crib, and his heart jumped to his throat when he discovered his baby was lying face down while wrapped in a swaddle. Freeing his baby from the swaddle, he was relieved to find that his baby was still breathing normally, soundly asleep and oblivious to the danger.
He ditched the swaddle that night, opting for a loose blanket. But one problem replaced another. He had to frequently get out of bed to check if his baby kicks off the blanket or worse if the blanket accidentally covers the baby’s face. His baby’s sleep quality noticeably dropped, and He couldn’t get enough sleep. To end his suffering, I suggested a much safer alternative called a wearable blanket, also called sleep sack. He fell in love with this product after the first try.
Wearable blankets are a safer alternative to a loose blanket. Much like a baby-sized sleeping bag, it is a mix of clothing and a blanket. It has one major advantage over loose blankets after your baby outgrows their swaddle. Namely, a sleep sack can’t be kicked off like a loose blanket.
When to transition from swaddling to a wearable blanket
One of the first things newborn parents have to learn is how to wrap their babies securely with a swaddle. The tricky part is to learn how to wrap your babies tight enough to let them feel safe; newborn babies are used to the feeling of tightness when in the womb. Control babies’ startle reflex is also the main purpose of using a swaddle for it will prevent babies from wiggling their arms and legs out, waking them before their sleep cycle is up.
But it’s also dangerous to let swaddles to outlive its usefulness. Once your children learn to roll over, or they are 8 weeks old, it’s time to transition them out of a swaddle. If you fail to do this, you have to contemplate the following scenario: It’s near impossible to monitor your children during your sleep, and babies capable of rolling over also tend to do it during their sleep. Once they roll over and sleep on their stomach. They may find it hard to maneuver back because their arms are bound in swaddles.
The medical community has long established that sleep on tummies will increase the incidence of SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. For safety’s sake, ditch the swaddle when your children are capable of rolling over or after 2-4 months old. Swaddle is meant to be used for a short time.
The benefit of a wearable blanket
My babies are very active sleepers. They never wake up in the same position they fall asleep. It’s impossible to use a loose blanket to keep them warm. They will kick it off even if the room is cold. That’s why a wearable blanket is very handy. They are like a piece of clothing attached to your children, impossible to shake off no matter how mobile they are. So you can sleep with peace of mind, assured that your children are warm all the time.
After your children learn to roll over, their arms start to play a bigger role in their activity. They begin to bat away unwelcome objects, something like a fly or a kiss from their parents (happened to me). If they find sleeping on their tummies uncomfortable, they can roll over if their arms are free.
While most wearable blankets for children are sleeveless, some of them come with a sleeve. Sleeping with sleeves around arms doesn’t exactly bound their arms, but does hamper children’s efforts to wriggle out of a dangerous situation.
Sleeveless wearable blanket
Sleeveless wearable blankets don’t constrict your children’s arm, offering them more mobility. But that’s not the main purpose of the design. The main aim of getting rid of sleeves is to prevent your children from overheating during sleep.
Sleeves on a wearable blanket will trap the heat emanating from your children’s body, increasing the risk of overheating. By getting rid of sleeves, wearable blankets enable the extra heat from the body to escape while maintaining the core temperature of your little one’s body.
But using a sleeveless wearable blanket doesn’t mean you don’t need to check your children’s temperature periodically. You still need to make sure you don’t overdress them and take off extra clothing in accordance with room temperature. American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that parents should make sure babies “don’t get too hot” during sleep and keep the room at a “comfortable temperature”. In doing so, parents could potentially save their children and reduce the risk of SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
In the book what to expect, the author listed a few symptoms indicating your children may be overheating. If you feel your children are warm to the touch, very thirsty, sweating profusely, very tired, or showing a lack of energy. Cool them immediately by taking off extra clothing. If the symptoms don’t go away, call the doctors.
How long do babies use a wearable blanket?
As long as you can find the right size to fit your babies’ ever-growing body, as long as your babies don’t resent wearing one, you can continue to put it on your babies through toddlerhood.
One day, my older daughter refused to put on a sleep sack after she was old enough to walk around. The particular sleep sack we used then didn’t have a foot opening, and no amount of persuading could get her to change her mind for she loved to crawl a little before bed. But I so love wearable blankets to call it quits. I ordered a Halo big kids sleep sack with a foot opening which we both like.
In case your children strongly resist being put into a sleep sack even with a leg opening, please bear in mind that a loose blanket is not safe for children under 1-year-old. Even older children are unlikely to keep their covers on until a much older age.
It’s ideal to stop swaddling your babies after they learn to roll over, for it hampers the freedom of their arms. Once they roll over and sleep on their tummies, they can use their arms to roll on their backs. Hence reduce the risk of SIDS, sudden infant death syndrome.
Sleepsacks or wearable blankets are much safer alternatives to loose blankets for they are securely attached to your children’s body, unlikely to be kicked off or accidentally cover children’s face.
Consider using a sleeveless sleep sack because they offer much greater freedom to your children’s arms while making it easy for extra heat to escape from the body, reducing the risk of overheating.