Parenting can be exhausting, and when you've got serious mom-fatigue, you're likely to try anything just to catch up on some Zs. But when it comes to sleep safety, following the recommended guidelines is important. With new products coming out all the time that seem really great (and guarantee your baby sleeps through the night), how do you know if they're actually safe? Like a new kind of swaddle on the market, the weighted swaddle that claims to help your child sleep. But are weighted swaddles safe for babies? I spoke with certified sleep coach and founder of Tuck.com, Bill Fish, and Senior Director of the Neonatal Institute at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, Amy Brassfield, MSN to see how a weighted swaddle's safety stands up to the hype.
One of the brands that makes a weighted swaddle, Nested Bean, explained how it works on their website. Their website claims that your baby will sleep better in one to three nights because the weighted swaddle will mimic your touch by using weighted pads. It's not a stretch to understand. Fish tells Romper in an email that "the weighted swaddle has come into the public consciousness over the past couple of years mostly due to the success of the weighted blanket," which has been used to treat children diagnosed with autism and ADHD due to its calming effect.
But when it comes to safety, "Anything that could possibly raise the chance of suffocation for your baby should be looked at with extreme caution," Fish says.
Brassfield tells Romper that weighted swaddles can actually be dangerous. "We do not use weighted blankets in the NICU. The baby could get trapped under the weighted blanket and be unable to move. The weighted blanket could pose a suffocation risk as well." She recommends parents refer to the American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) guidelines for safe sleep and do not use any blankets in the crib at all, especially when they're sleeping. While it's important to note that weighted blankets aren't recommended, I asked Brassfield specifically about weighted swaddles, and she says she doesn't recommend them either for all of the above reasons.
Instead, Brassfield recommends using approved sleep sacks to help keep your baby warm at night without increasing the risk of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death, which she says is the leading cause of death among infants one month to one year. In regards to using regular unweighted swaddles, she says, "Swaddling helps to calm the baby and also helps contain their own startle reflex. Swaddling also helps to keep the baby warm." Fish doesn't recommend any weighted products at all until your baby "can stand on their own, and even then, we would suggest going less than 10 percent than the body weight of the child." But when it comes to your little ones, it's always better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to sleep.
So when it comes to using a weighted swaddle, the experts say skip it. You could be putting your child at risk of suffering a tragic accident. Instead, use sleep sacks and appropriate clothing to help keep your baby warm at night. If your baby is having a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep, you can always hire a professional sleep coach or talk to your pediatrician if you're looking for some extra help getting your baby the rest you both need.