Updated: Oct 2, 2020
While you are probably thinking about the major transition you are going through as a new parent, stop and think for a moment about the transition your baby has just gone through. For a new baby, it’s like arriving on a different planet!
Anything that you can do to help them feel more secure and more at “home” will be soothing for your new baby and ultimately help to make the transition to the world a little bit easier and less stressful for them and for you. One of the best ways to do that is by swaddling. Swaddling helps babies feel the security they felt in the womb, and research has shown that it helps them sleep better.
For the first few months, babies have a Moro reflex, also known as the startle reflex, that you may experience when you lay your sleeping baby down and they startle awake. Many things can trigger the Moro reflex while your baby is sleeping including noises and lights, but many times the triggers are so minor that you won’t notice them. Having their arms swaddled can help calm their reflex and help them get back to sleep faster.
When it comes to safe swaddling, I love a Swaddle Sleep Sack. This is a fitted sack that your baby will wear, that secures their arms while avoiding the dangers of a loose, large swaddle blanket.
Let’s go over the most important features to look for when choosing a swaddle sack and give your our expert’s top pick awards.
How Do We Choose our Favorites?
As always, our top recommendations always come down to the value you get out of your purchase. The products with the MOST amount of our must-have features for the best overall price gets our top votes.
Must-Have Features to Look for in a Swaddle Sleep Sack What really matters?
When it comes to your baby’s sleep, safety is #1 Swaddle blankets pose a SIDS risk when baby loosens or breaks free of the blanket, which is why our top choices only include sack style swaddles. It’s important to choose a sleep sack that is sized appropriately to their age and size. Having one too big poses a risk of material riding up and covering their mouth.
Temperature control It’s important that what your baby wears to bed isn’t making them too hot or too cold as both increases the risk of SIDS. Many swaddle sack companies rate their product’s warmth with a TOG rating. TOG stands for Thermal Overall Grade, which is a unit of measurement used to calculate the thermal insulation of a product. The higher the TOG, the warmer it is. Lightweight cotton is a wonderful material for a sleep sack because it is soft and breathable to regulate body temperature.
Ease of use and diaper accessibility Swaddling up a baby in a traditional swaddle blanket can be cumbersome and time-consuming. Sleep swaddles should be quick and easy to put on your baby. Another great feature is the ability to change the baby’s diaper while their arms are still swaddled. Quick diaper changes that don’t fully wake your baby are a win-win for you and baby.
Expert's Choice - Best Overall
Love To Dream’s Swaddle UP ingenious arms up design allows baby to sleep in their natural position and suppresses the startle reflex
Comes in newborn, small, and medium sizes so you can get the perfect and safest fit
Ingenious arm’s up patented design that allows the baby’s arms and hands to go upwards in their natural position. This allows babies to self-soothe by stroking their cheek or sucking on their hands when they wake in the night.
The 4-way stretch fabric of 93% Cotton and 7% Elastane creates a secure feeling just like in the womb to calm the Moro/startle reflex
Dual zipper design allows for quick and easy diaper changes while the baby’s arms are still swaddled.
In addition, this swaddle received recognition from the International Hip Dysplasia Institute (IHDI) as being a 'Hip Healthy' product giving babies plenty of room to move their legs and hips.
The Love To Dream Swaddle UP has all of the features we look for to keep baby safe, warm, and secure for a better night’s sleep. Their ingenious design with baby’s arms going upwards in their natural position won our Expert’s Best Overall award, hands down! Well, I guess hands up in this case.
Full Range of Motion
The Zipadee-Zip gives the baby full range of motion while keeping them swaddled
X-Small through X-Large sizes
Arm’s contained, but not confined
96% polyester 4% spandex
Single zipper that zips to the top
The Zipadee-Zip has multiple sizes to get a secure fit and comes in lots of fun colorful prints. The arms have a lot of wiggle room so it may not fully suppress the Moro reflex. We love that baby has the ability to put their arms upwards in their natural position, and they can self soothe by putting their hands to their mouth. We’d love to see a two-way zipper for quick diaper changes.
Access To Hands
Amazing Baby Transitional Swaddle features removable arm cuffs.
0-3 months & 3-6 months sizes
Arms contained upward & fold over mitten cuffs may be worn closed or open with a half sleeve
100% Cotton Knit
The Amazing Baby Transitional Swaddle Sack has a clever design allowing the baby to have arms swaddled up, but also the ability to unfold the mitten cuffs so the baby can have their arm’s free. Our experts agree that keeping their arms swaddled until they can roll is ideal, so we’d like to see larger sizes to get the most out of the arms free feature.
Grows with Baby
Woombie Convertible Swaddle Sack unzips into 3 multi-sized swaddle variations as baby grows
One size - unzips in stages to fit 0-18 months
Arm’s contained against their chest or down at their sides
95% Cotton 5% Spandex
The Woombie Convertible Swaddle Sack grows into 3 multi-sized swaddle variations, and then further evolves into a large/extra large arms-free sleeper. We love the versatility of this swaddle that easily un-zips in stages to allow room for the baby to grow, however, we wish it allowed the baby to put their arms in an upward position and the ability to self soothe by getting their hands to their mouth.
Halo 100% Cotton SleepSack features adjustable velcro panels to get the perfect fit
Preemie, Newborn, & Small sizes
Arms swaddled against sides or chest with adjustable velcro closure
100% Cotton Double Knit
Single zipper that zips to the bottom
The Halo 100% Cotton SleepSack functions as both a swaddle and an open arm’s sleep sack with adjustable velcro panels. We love that the zipper zips down to the bottom so you can change the baby’s diaper without unswaddling their arms. We also love that the adjustability of the swaddle’s tightness for a perfect fit, and that it transforms to arms free, yet still offers a snug womb-life effect for their torso.
Swaddle Me Pod features zip open arms for transitioning into a traditional sleep sack
0-3, 3-6, & 6-9 sizes
Arm’s contained down at their sides
93% Cotton 7% Spandex
The Swaddle Me Pod has different versions. Their 0-3 month size is a no-frills swaddle sack that zips up and contains their arms downwards at their side. Their 3-6 and 6-9 month versions function the same but also feature zip open arms for the transition stage when they start to roll. We like that the compression can suppress the Moro reflex, but we wish it allowed the baby to put their arms in a natural upward position and the ability to self soothe by getting their hands to their mouth.
The Right Swaddle Sleep Sack Spells Happiness for Mom and Baby
If there is one thing we as parents can agree on, it’s the need for sleep within that first year. With the middle of the night feedings and diaper changes, we are already losing hours each night with a new baby. By choosing one of our ‘Expert’s Choice’ selections, you keep baby comfortable and happy, while increasing the amount of sleep you and each family member receives.
Written by: Shari Criso RN, CNM, IBCLC, founder of MyBabyExperts.com
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For the past 30 years, providing assistance to new and expectant mothers has been not only my career but my passion. From providing guidance during those sacred months of pregnancy to delivering over 600-babies and discovering only the best possible baby products - I have done it all.
As a compassionate mother myself, I spend my days using my experience as a Certified Nurse Midwife and Lactation Consultant, educating moms worldwide. With an Amazon Live Channel, online breastfeeding classes, and hundreds of episodes of my WebTV show, My Baby Experts, I am committed to serving mothers in this important stage in life and beyond. Allow me to help you overcome the fear and celebrate the beauty of motherhood.