Exhausted parents are willing to try just about anything to get their baby to sleep. With new ideas and products launched every year, there's certainly no lack of viable options, too. Among those choices include swaddling, rocking, and even the use of a sleep suit — a piece of clothing designed for babies to mimic swaddling. Us parents are always on the lookout for a way to snag a few extra minutes of rest, to be sure, but are sleep suits safe? After all, our children's safety is always priority number one.
In an attempt to prevent the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the Mayo Clinic actually advises the use of a sleep sack or suit. Why? Because it doesn't require additional layers of clothing. Overheating is just one component of SIDS, so by laying a baby down on their back, in a crib and with one piece of breathable fabric (and sans loose blankets, pillows, bumpers, or toys), The Mayo Clinic claims the risk of SIDS is decreased significantly.
It should be noted that one major difference between a sleep suit and a sleep sack is, honestly, merely by design. The sack is more like a weighted, one-piece blanket, while the suit is to be worn like clothing. The suits may be preferred by babies in terms of comfort, but both are similarly comparable and do similar jobs.
While there are physical factors, such as brain or respiratory abnormalities, to consider with SIDS, sleeping environment is said to be among the most preventable aspects of SIDS. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2015 there were 3,700 sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUID) in the United States. Of those deaths, are reported 1,600 deaths were due to SIDS, 1,2000 were due to unknown causes, and 900 deaths were due to accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed.
As a result of those stunning, and not to mention heartbreaking, statistics, The Baby Sleep Site recommends parents put their baby to bed on their back, in a crib with a tightly fit mattress, avoid using crib bumpers or miscellaneous bedding and toys, and using a sleep sack or suit to keep baby warm without overheating. Following those guidelines will, according to the site, reduce the risk of SIDS or other sleep-related infant deaths.
The sleep suit is said to be a good transitional product for babies past infancy, too. Their design helps keep baby on their backs longer by preventing them from rolling onto their stomachs before they're developmentally ready. They're not recommended for use in a swing, co-sleeping, or rocker, though. More specifically, those such as the Magic Sleep Suit, created by pediatric physical therapist and founder of Baby Merlin Company, Maureen Howard, do follow the American Pediatrics Association's safety guidelines in terms of safe sleep suits and sleep training. This seems to mean, if used correctly along with the other SIDS prevention guidelines, sleep suits are among the safer alternatives to swaddling and SIDS prevention.
With so many different products, who's to know which is the safest? When sleep training any baby, it's best to err on the side of caution. Parents should first consult with their pediatrician before attempting use of any product or method for sleep training. So, if you're interested in using a sleep sack after consulting a physician, doing some research, and making sure to follow the APA's safety guidelines, it's probably more than safe to click "purchase" on that cute little number you found online.