Winter is here, which means that your baby may begin waking at night (especially in the wee hours of the morning) because he’s cold. However, it’s a simple sleep problem to solve – it’s time for a sleeping bag. This is essentially a wearable blanket and not to be confused with outdoor camping bags. More than 95% of parents in the UK now use them, and my son slept in one from birth and throughout winter.
Benefits of using a baby sleeping bag
- Better sleep. I don’t know a single parent who doesn’t yearn for a night of uninterrupted sleep! As there are no sheets or blankets to kick off, your baby won’t wake up cold. A bag also keeps your baby at a consistent warm temperature. The cosier your baby, the better he’ll sleep.
- Safety. Not only are sleep bags super snuggly, they’re actually much safer than loose blankets. Since 2005, the American Academy of Pediatrics has suggested the use of wearable blankets because loose sheets and blankets pose a major suffocation threat.
- Comfort. A sleeping bag can act as a familiar ‘comforter’ for your baby, making sleep times easier even when he’s away from home, or during travelling, and eases the transition from basket to cot and cot to bed.
- Sleep association cues. Your baby will quickly develop a sleep association where sleeping bag = bedtime.
Choosing the right tog
Many baby sleeping bags have a certain thickness, known as the tog rating. The higher the tog, the warmer the bag. As South Africa’s climate is relatively moderate, it’s not necessary to change bags with the seasons. A 2 or a 2.5 tog rating is generally ideal for our climate.
How to safely use a baby sleeping bag
- Never use an additional blanket with a sleep bag as this may cause your baby to overheat. The only other bedding required is a fitted cot sheet.
- If additional warmth is needed you can dress your baby in layers of clothing, but make sure this is appropriate for the room temperature. An ideal nursery temperature should be between 16°C and 20°C.
- Be sure to buy the right size. If it’s too big, your baby may slip down into the bag during the night.
- Don’t use one with an attached hood – it’s believed this can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
Best sleeping bag options
From R300 – R500
Many major baby retailers now sell sleeping bags. These are a fair amount cheaper than branded versions, but they’re still soft and snuggly with 100% cotton outers and linings. Don’t be alarmed that the filling is polyester – as long as the part that touches your baby’s skin is cotton, it’s good to go.
Tip: If you’re interested in buying a better quality product, it may be a good idea to try one of these first. Not all babies will take to a sleeping bag – some find it too constricting.
From R500 to R1000
One of the most popular brands is the Grobag (this is what I used with my son, Jake last winter). It’s similar in look and feel to the cheaper options, but it’s the only baby sleep bag recommended by The Lullaby Trust, the UK’s leading Cot Death Charity.
A similar contender to Grobag is the Baby Sense range. Slightly cheaper than the original Grobag, this is another good middle-of-the-range option.
These are both sized according to baby’s age, which means you will need to move to a bigger bag as your baby grows.
Crème de la crème
The Puckababy 4 Seasons is genius – it grows with your baby and can be adapted to each of the four seasons (hence the name). While the initial price tag may give you momentary heart failure, it may work out to be more economical as opposed to buying a different bag each time your baby gets bigger. It goes up to two and a half years.
The fabric is of the utmost quality (as it should be for that price), and it’s lined with super soft fleece. I imagine this is how it feels to sleep inside a teddy bear.
If your child is not used to a sleep bag, or if they hate having their legs constricted, then this is a terrific invention. The Body Blankie has all the benefits of a sleeping bag, but is designed with legs so little ones can still be mobile. Toddlers can safely get up and walk while still keeping warm. Available for ages from one to five.
A final tip: From my experience, you really want to own more than one bag. You never know when a wet nappy will leak at 2am and you need to have a back-up when the other is in the wash.
This isn’t a problem with the cheaper products, but if you’ve invested in a bag with a hefty price tag, it may not be financially viable to own more than one. So keep this in mind when making your final decision.
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