Sleep Sack vs Swaddle: Differences & What’s Best for Your Baby

If you’re being kept awake at night by the sleep sack vs swaddle debate, you’re not alone. There’s so much confusion as a new parent and sleep issues don’t help. Not only do you want your precious newborn to sleep well, but you want him to sleep safely. But does that mean a sleep sack or a swaddle? And what’s the difference between a swaddle and a swaddle blanket anyway? If you’re looking for some clarity on the issue, keep reading for some FAQs about the sleep sack vs swaddle blanket issue:

What are the differences between a sleep sack and a swaddle?

A sleep sack is essentially a wearable blanket that keeps your infant safe, warm, and comfortable.  Sleep sacks are good for newborns through toddlerhood.

A swaddle is a large blanket, typically made of light material, that is used to wrap up - or swaddle - your baby nice and tight (like a burrito!). That tight feeling of swaddling is meant to mimic life inside the womb where baby has lived so snuggly for the past nine months. It’s believed that swaddling helps baby feel comfortable, safe and secure and is typically used from birth to three months.

When it comes to sleep, it’s important to note that whether you use a sleep sack or a swaddle, that the safest position for baby is always on his back, for naps and nighttime, until they’re at least 12 months old. Further, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “bare is best.” This means that soft bedding such as blankets, pillows and soft toys should be kept out of the baby's sleep space to avoid accidental suffocation, the leading cause of SIDS. This makes the sleep sack a great option!

What are the advantages of sleep sacks vs swaddles?

While every baby and family is different, some parents find that swaddling is the way to go when it comes to their newborn. That’s because swaddling offers that snug feeling that baby is used to from 9 months in the womb. Some parents find that baby sleeps better and for longer stretches when swaddled.

That said, other parents swear by sleep sacks. They’re always a safe choice as they eliminate the need for anything extra in the crib which, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), greatly reduces the risks of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

Often times, it’s a matter of finding the option that will work best for you. If, however, you’re still confused about the sleep sack vs swaddle newborn debate, by all means, consult your pediatrician.

When do babies transition from a swaddle to a sleep sack?

Once your little one is able to roll over on their own, they typically no longer like the swaddle as it may restrict their movement. While every baby is different and starts to roll over at different times, this milestone is usually reached between 2-4 months old.  By then it’s a great idea to move to a wearable blanket, also known as a sleep sack, to ensure that your baby is still safe in her sleep space.

What is the difference between a swaddle and a swaddle blanket?

A swaddle blanket is designed specifically to swaddle baby. Usually, they are made from a lightweight and breathable fabric that helps to regulate baby’s body temperature. When not used for swaddling, swaddling blankets are quite versatile but should never be used as a blanket in a crib or sleep space to avoid the risks of suffocation.

Some swaddle “blankets” have built in or removable swaddle “wings” that make swaddling baby easier. Of course, it’s important to follow all manufacturer directions to ensure all safety precautions.

What are the benefits of a sleep sack vs blanket?

Sleep sacks make certain that your infant will sleep safely by eliminating the need for anything extra in his crib. That means no blankets, no toys, just baby in his crib, bassinet or co-sleeper, in nothing but his wearable blanket! Sleep sacks also help regulate your infant’s body temperature which keeps him from being too cold, too hot, and makes their sleep just right!  

Some babies love their sleep sacks and want them well into toddlerhood! It’s a personal choice, but once baby starts to crawl and explore their surroundings, or becomes an escape artist, it may be time to retire the sleep sack. For safety reasons, most experts recommend not using a blanket in baby’s sleep space until they’re at least 12 months old.

Should I use a swaddle or sleep sack for newborn?

A lot of new parents love swaddling because swaddling is meant to soothe your newborn infant as they get used to life outside the womb. Those first few months of life are sometimes referred to as the “fourth trimester” and to help ease that transition, swaddling is meant to mimic life inside the womb where baby has lived so snuggly for the past nine months. It’s that wrapped, tight feeling that helps baby feel comfortable, safe and secure – and who can resist how cute he looks as a little baby burrito?! Swaddling also helps flailing arms and legs that can trigger baby’s startle reflex (also known as the Moro reflex). 

But don’t worry, if your baby just isn’t taking to swaddling and you’re wondering when to use a sleep sack, Dreamland Baby has a weighted sleep swaddle with a fully integrated inner swaddle band which makes swaddling a breeze. We also have a weighted sleep sack. Both of which can be used from 0-6 months and are designed to help your baby feel calm, fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. 

Do pediatricians recommend sleep sacks or swaddles?

Whether you decide on a sleep sack or a swaddle, safety is always the primary concern when it comes to baby sleep. As such, according to the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) follow this acronym for the ABC’s of safe sleep!

  • A – ALONE. Baby should always sleep alone but in the same room as her caregiver
  • B – BACK. Baby should always, always, always, be put to sleep on her back – both for naps and nighttime sleep.
  • C – CRIB. Baby should sleep in a crib or co-sleeper with a firm mattress and snug-fitting sheet – that is it! No bumpers, no extra bedding, no cuddle toys!

While some parents may be concerned that baby may be cold in her crib without a blanket, the Dreamland baby swaddle or sleep sack is perfect to keep baby at just the right temperature!

Are sleep sacks or swaddles safer for a newborn to sleep in?

Sleep sacks can be used starting at birth however most parents feel that swaddling is a better option for their newborn. Swaddling is meant to mimic life inside the womb and is a familiar feeling for your newborn to be wrapped up tight and snuggly.  That said, sleep sacks are a great and easy option for new parents who are intimidated by swaddling techniques.

The Dreamland Baby Weighted Sleep Swaddle was designed in collaboration with pediatricians, NICU nurses and Certified Sleep consultants. It has a fully integrated, inner swaddle band for security and comfort. It is designed to help your baby feel calm, fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. The gentle weight naturally reduces stress and increases relaxation through deep-pressure stimulation to give your baby feelings of security and comfort. It also has a two-way zipper for easy diaper changes which comes in handy for those frequent, middle of the night changes.

Featured product

Dream Weighted Sleep Swaddle, 0-6 months (2nd Gen)