What’s the Difference Between a Sleep Sack and a Swaddle Blanket?

It is hard to know what to use for your newborn when you put her down to sleep at night. Should you simply place a couple of small thin blankets over her, or do you need to wrap her up snuggly in a blanket in a practice known as swaddling?

What is Swaddling?

Swaddling is something that many parents choose for their newborn babies because of the way it simulates the experience of being in the womb. It keeps babies snug and warm and minimizes the impact of their Moro (startle) reflex, where they will automatically throw their hands out and their necks back in response to a sudden sound or movement. The Moro reflex is often the cause of babies waking suddenly. The good folk at CozeeCoo say that swaddling can help prevent this from occurring. This is why it is so favored by many parents across the country. But if you are new to swaddling, you might be wondering whether to choose a sleep sack or a swaddle blanket. What is the difference between the two?

What is a Swaddle Blanket?

There is no specific blanket that you need to use when swaddling your baby. You can use any blanket provided it is bigger than the infant. There is a knack to getting it right though. You first need to fold the blanket in half (in the shape of an upside-down triangle). You should then place your baby’s head above the fold in the blanket with her feet at the point. Place baby’s right arm down by her side, then fold over the right side of the blanket and tuck it under her left arm and around her back.

The bottom of the blanket should then be pulled up and tucked over your baby’s shoulder or into the top of the side you have folded from the right. You can then put your baby’s left arm by her side and pull the left side of the blanket across and around the back. Your baby will resemble a nice, snug burrito. Never pull it too tight though.

What is a Sleep Sack?

A sleep sack is basically a wearable blanket with a zipper around the bottom and clips at the shoulder. Babies are placed inside the sleep sack in their onesie, and it is zippered up and clipped at the top. Their arms are free to move but, unlike with a swaddle, the baby has some freedom to move their legs inside the sleep sack.

Which is Better?

The question of which is better is really a matter of preference. A swaddle blanket should only ever be used until a baby can roll onto her side because it could then restrict movement and cause suffocation. Swaddling can be comforting for newborns because of the restricted movement, which makes them feel secure.

A sleep sack is great for older babies and toddlers, especially those who move about a lot at night and tend to kick their blankets off then wake up because they are cold. A sleep sack allows for freedom of movement while still ensuring warmth all night long.

If you want the best of both worlds, you can look for specially fabricated sleep sacks that come with a swaddle blanket design up top to wrap baby’s arms snugly, with a bit more room at the bottom to allow leg movement. Some even come with removeable wings that will allow for a transition to a more traditional style of sleep sack when the time is right for your baby.

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