The Ultimate Guide To Sleep Sacks
I get tons of questions every week about going from swaddles to Zipadee Zips to Nested Bean to Magic Merlins. Why are there so many products? If you’ve followed me for long enough, you know that I am not a product person. I am thrilled to give you this ultimate guide on sleep sacks, so you can understand a little more about some of those out there that promise the world, but don’t quite deliver. To go along with this episode, I have a visual for you, that’s me your visual learner, and you can head to www.littlezsleep.com/sleepsack to really see all of the ones mentioned here and a little bit more, just get my guide on sleep sacks. Find that link in the show notes or go to www.littlezsleep.com/sleepsack.
Okay, let’s get into it. First of all, if you have a newborn, you are absolutely going to use the swaddle. Many, many times I have heard newborn parents say, “Oh no, my baby does not like the swaddle.” The thing is, I am going to directly point you to Dr. Harvey Karp’s Five S’s where it’s proven that newborns crave these five s’s to calm themselves, and make them feel comfortable, and one of them is the swaddle. We are not going into all five s’s in this podcast, I just want to encourage you that there’s more to just the swaddle. If you’ve been trying to swaddle your baby and lay them down flat and still, that’s probably why. We need to implement other things and I actually talk about this is my newborn course, so I would encourage you to grab the newborn course, where we are going to actually work with the Five S’s to help your newborn.
So, swaddles are fantastic for newborns because they crave that feeling of being secure. I would encourage you to try other swaddles if you feel like maybe one isn’t quite working for you. I preferred the Summer Infant SwaddleMe, which is the Velcro. I loved those, especially when I had a toddler who was 18 months and a newborn because it was so easy to just velcro right up. I don’t suggest any type of swaddle blanket to actually use as a swaddle, unless you are one of the amazing nurses who is also the mother/baby nurse and can absolutely wrap that baby like a burrito nice and tight. I’ve honestly found in normal life situations, us moms can not get them as tight as they do at the hospital. So, I do like swaddle blankets for other things, but I’ve never preferred them to be the actual swaddle because they do get pretty loose, so I am all about taking those shortcuts like the Summer Infant SwaddleMe with the velcro. Other types of swaddles like the Love to Dream, I’m a fan of those as well.
Once your baby gets to be anywhere between eight to twelve weeks, it’s time to start thinking about getting out of the swaddle. Now you’re saying, “Becca, that’s a pretty wide range, eight to twelve weeks. Why so wide and broad? The thing is, I don’t know your baby’s specific needs. I don’t know if your baby came early, were they a super preemie, are they really small and tiny? Are they really big and they’re growing out of the swaddles? I don’t know your baby’s age, medical history, weight concerns, I don’t know any of that. So, between eight to twelve weeks seems to cover a lot of good development here for your newborn, and so if you find yourself at eight to twelve weeks starting to outgrow the swaddle, then I would consider getting out of it. Eight to twelve weeks, I like to start thinking about getting one arm out, then the other, or just go straight to the Zipadee Zip, which segues us into sleep sack number one that I want to talk about.
The Zipadee Zip by Sleeping Baby is designed for this kind of in between from swaddle to not quite being ready for an open arm sleep sack. It looks like a little flying squirrel, it’s so cute. It comes in all sorts of adorable prints, and the way it’s designed is to catch your baby with that startle reflex. Typically, these four- and five-month old’s are still having their startle reflex. Most of the time it’s due to them being in the swaddle, or the Rock ‘n Play too long, but a lot of times these eight to twelve-week old’s in my newborn course are finding the Zipadee Zip is the perfect segue because baby is starting to learn how to use their body, but they’re still struggling with not startling themselves to wake up.
I do love the Zipadee Zip because it helps them understand to use their body. They can roll in the Zipadee Zip. However, it doesn’t have their arms free, their fingers free, and so every now and then, I will find a client like my recent twins that I’m working with who are a month and a half adjusted. We started when they were four and a half months old and we got them from swaddles and Rock ‘n Plays into Zipadee Zips in their crib, all in one night, with our four month plan, and mom and I were talking a lot in our phone packages about, “Hey, we should start to evaluate how they want to self-soothe”, and low and behold, Twin B, wanted to suck on his fingers. Twin A was happy in the Zipadee Zip. So, we took off the Zipadee Zip for Twin B, and he was much happier in an open arms sleep sack to be able to actually have access to his fingers. Zipadee Zip is fantastic if you know your little one is struggling with a startle reflex. Maybe they haven’t found their fingers yet, and they just need a little bit of reassurance. A little pro tip, search on some mommy Facebook groups or resale sites, and see if you have any friends that have the Zipadee Zip because a lot of times you may find you’re only using it for a couple of weeks up to maybe a month, and they’re about $35-$40, so you may not want to spend all that money just for a couple of weeks. You do you, of course. I love the Zipadee Zip.
Then if you’re going from the Zipadee Zip, I would encourage you to just go to the regular, basic, open arms sleep sack. This could be Halo, it could be a Carter’s, it could be the Amazon brands, I randomly used Old Navy’s because I happened to be shopping at Old Navy one day and saw theirs were on sale. When my youngest was in the six to nine-month range, we used sleep sacks for her because she actually lived in a closet, that’s a whole other story, for the first eight months of her life. It was a little chilly, so we always used sleep sacks with her, and I just got Old Navy’s because they were handy, but their quality was great, so they’re not paying me at all to talk about this, but they were great quality.
Anyways, an open arm sleep sack. Here’s the deal, we don’t need any of the bells and whistles. We don’t need any of the weighted things on the belly, or any type of lovey things attached, and we definitely don’t want anything extra here. This just needs to be a plain old open arm sleep sack. If you are in a place that is a little chillier, then maybe you want the fleece ones. If you’re in a cooler place, maybe you want the muslin ones, I’m not quite sure, but you guys, there are so many options. Go to Amazon, or scroll to the link in my show notes, and see the open arm sleep sacks that I prefer. I love them. They are great if you are helping baby go from the Zipadee Zip to having no sleep sack.
Now, some of the ones that fall in here that I’ve kind of mentioned the bells and whistles. Some of them are okay, and some of them I don’t understand why you would need it. So, let’s talk about the Nested Bean, and I think it’s the Zen. They have these weighted figurines, little circles, on the baby’s chest to simulate the fact that mommy’s hand could be on them. It’s supposed to be comforting. It’s supposed to help them calm down and go to sleep. My problem with them is that we want your little one to start rolling around. So, I have worked with several clients who once they start to roll around, baby is not happy to lay on that little nested bean thing. They’re not happy to lay on that little small weighted circle. This really depends on your little one. If you already have a Nested Bean or a Zen sleep sack, and your baby is on their belly sleeping just fine, and they’re content, don’t change anything just because I’m talking about it, or you could be like one of my most recent clients and she actually cut it open and emptied it out and took it off the sleep sack. That’s one way to do it, but I’m just telling you guys that these Nested Bean sleep sacks with the weights on the front of them, they’re not super weighty, but a small pressure point for baby, they’re not magical. This is not going to make your baby sleep all night. Some people have claimed that yes they actually helped, but maybe what we don’t see behind the scenes is that maybe behind their review, they’re actually doing all the other things too, and they happened to choose the Nested Bean, but I am a firm believer that a sleep sack is not going to be the number one thing that gets your baby to go to sleep.
This is why I would just prefer some type of basic, open arms one, that’s not that expensive, and that doesn’t have any type of fancy things on it. Now, you have heard me on Instagram talk about Bitta Kidda and this is a little bit fancier one, but it’s not something that you absolutely have to have. In fact, I’ve only probably referred the Bitta Kidda a handful of times to clients who were under twelve months old, and we found that the child loved to suck on the sleep sack or their jammies. So, the Bitta Kidda is a sleep sack that has built in loveys, two of them where the shoulder is, and one mid-belly, and the baby is able to grab these and lift them up to their mouth and chew on them, but they’re sewn in, they’re safe, and they will not cover baby’s mouth or nose. It’s simply something for babies who are very tactile. If they like to feel and rub and touch, or they like to be able to chew on the zipper part of the sleep sack. This is just a little bit handier to have something they can chomp on. I have had several clients who as they outgrew it, baby was like addicted to the little lovey part and so they just snipped them off and gave them to the kid. Bitta Kidda is pretty neat, so that’s in my guide as well, but again, just because it has these cool little features, it’s not going to make your baby sleep all night long. The only thing that’s going to help your baby sleep all night long, is if we teach them the foundation of how to go to sleep independently and how to put themselves back to sleep all night long.
So, you know what comes right here in the middle of this podcast. I’m going to give you guys a plug for my sleep e-coaching because you can have all the right tools, but if you don’t have the right pieces in place, nothing is going to help. I would really encourage you, if you have a four to five month old who is waking all throughout the night, maybe still in your bed, maybe you’re bouncing them on a yoga ball, or you’ve got them in a Rock ‘n Play, head over to www.littlezsleep.com/baby, and grab the four to five month sleep e-coaching because we want to get your little one in their crib, maybe in a Zipadee Zip or an open arm sleep sack, and teach them to sleep eleven to twelve hours all night long with one night feeding, totally okay! If your little one is six to sixteen months old, then we want to be teaching them how to sleep a solid night with no nighttime feedings, and become the most ferocious, excitable, very energetic eater during the day. Food is for nourishment, not for sleep. We’ve got to teach your baby those basics. You can also go to www.littlezsleep.com/baby, and grab your sleep e-coaching to teach your baby how to sleep all night. Sure, you can use an open arm sleep sack!
So, a couple of the differences here between sleep sacks and then other little gimmicky things you might find. I wouldn’t necessarily call the Magic Merlin a sleep sack. It’s a suit, and it is not magical. The Magic Merlin is like that little Michelin Man suit, and the only time I’ve had clients successfully use this was when they were three to four months old and they had medical conditions. These were babies who had heart surgeries or were having a lot of development that we were just working on the basics of not feeding to sleep, keeping them awake, and very foundational sleep things, then the Magic Merlin was okay, but we knew by the end of our time together we needed to get out of it. The Magic Merlin does not allow baby to roll. Therefore, if we want your baby to be in control of their own body, if we want them to learn how to self-soothe, they kind of need to know how to roll around, and have access to their fingers, or get on their side and get comfortable. Instead of putting them in the Magic Merlin suit, which kind of just keeps them where they cannot move, then that is not helping their development at all. We definitely want them to be in an open arm sleep sack, or if you’ve gone from the swaddle to the Magic Merlin, then I might suggest the Zipadee Zip so if they’re still struggling with that startle reflex, they’re able to help themselves out a little bit more.
You can go to Amazon and maybe you have, and you could just go to town on finding all kinds of different sleep sacks, but the point is, a sleep sack is not going to be the magic cure all. Nothing out there on Amazon is the magic cure all. We need to teach your baby the foundation of how to self-soothe, how to put themselves to sleep. If we’re talking about newborns, we’re not sleep training, we’re laying the foundation of sleep, and we’re using that swaddle to help us do that. Therefore, the newborn course is a great place to get in to teach your little one how to sleep so that they are from the beginning of their life, understanding that sleep is the foundation of our health.
If your little one is four months and up, it’s time to get those arms out, arms moving, or in that Zipadee Zip to get them just able to handle that startle reflex going away, and we want your child to learn that sleep is good. In fact, they’re really good at sleep, but when they have the opportunity to be in control of it on their own, that’s when they thrive. Sleep sacks are a wonderful tool to help put in place, and help put in motion our sleep plan, but it is never the number one thing that’s going to help make sleep possible. So, if you are looking for a sleep sack, grab the free guide that goes along with this episode. I want you to be encouraged that sleep sacks are perfectly fine, and if you are listening to this whole thing and you’re like, “I’m just feeling overwhelmed.” Guess what? You don’t need to have a sleep sack. At the end of this episode, right? The ultimate guide to sleep sacks. I have to tell you that I actually didn’t use them. We used them with my youngest between that six to nine-month-old, and then when she moved into the room with my oldest, they were on the third floor and the room was quite warm, and so there was no need to have a wearable blanket for her because it was too warm in their room, so we just ditched it completely.
Now, I often have parents who tell me they use the sleep sack for daycare and home congruity, and I love that because the sleep sack is such a cue for sleep, and you might find you’re zipping the sleep sack up and your little one is starting to recognize the fact that it’s time to go to sleep. That’s an awesome cue. If you’re able to put a sleep sack in your child’s daycare backpack or the sitter backpack and have one at home, I love that because it will only help your child connect the fact that it’s sleepy time, time to go to sleep. That’s a really awesome way to use sleep sacks to our advantage during our sleep plan. Your little one sees that as a cue for sleep, but it’s not a cure for sleep.
I hope that was insightful for you, and I look forward to hearing your feedback. Share with me on the website if you’re listening to the podcast on www.littlezsleep.com, then you can scroll down and leave some comments. If you’re on iTunes, I would love to hear what you think. Share with me your review. Click that little five-star button, it’s always appreciated, or share with me how this podcast has reached your family, and what kind of change you’ve made. That is so encouraging to hear, that you guys are making sleep a thing, in your home, all over the world, so wherever you are, sweet dreams! See you next time!