I, for one, am a fan of sleep sacks. They're a safe alternative to blankets, covers, and other items on the list of things your baby shouldn't sleep with, and zipping my little one in for the night quickly became part of our bedtime ritual. But like all good things, my cute little sleep sack burrito baby had to transition to some other sleeping arrangement. So, when should you stop putting your baby in a sleep sack? The answer, like so many parenting questions us moms are sure to ask ourselves over the course of our lives, isn't as clear cut as you might imagine.
Parents use sleep sacks for a number of reasons, most often as a safer alternative to blankets or covers, which the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises parents to avoid for the first year of their children's lives. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) encourages all parents to create safe sleep spaces for their children to lower their risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and advises parents against using any type of blankets or covers, saying:
"Do not put soft objects, toys, crib bumpers, or loose bedding under baby, over baby, or anywhere in baby's sleep area."
Unlike a blanket, a sleep sack allows a parent to keep their baby warm, help their baby feel secure as if they were back in the womb, and make sure their baby stays safe by lowering the risk of SIDS, strangulation, and suffocation.
As well as replacing blankets and adhering to the recommended sleeping environment for your baby, sleep sacks also keep your baby's legs out of the crib bars where, unfortunately, they could get stuck. WebMD reports that almost 10,000 children are taken to the emergency room each year with crib-related injuries.
Still, babies grow, as babies tend to do, and once your little one progresses to rolling over, sitting up, and essentially plotting their escape out of the confines of their crib and into the big wide world, it's time to start thinking about alternatives. So when, exactly, is it time to say goodbye to sleep sacks, now that we've covered how they can be beneficial for your little one?
Sleep sacks are made in sizes that keep even toddlers comfortable and safe, but if your child's feet are starting to outgrow the ends of the biggest size made available to you, it may be time to move on and out of the sleep sack.
The Baby Sleep Site advises parents to consider ditching the sleep sack as their toddler grows to prevent overheating, saying:
"One important thing with toddlers is that when they are too warm when they sleep, they are more prone to night terrors and nightmares. So, you do want to make sure your toddler is warm enough at night, but not too warm."
The Baby Sleep Site also suggests parents keep an eye out for signs that your baby is ready to transition free from a swaddle and/or sleep sack, including if your baby is consistently breaking free every night, have stopped jolting in their sleep (known as the Moro Reflex), and if your baby is starting to roll over to their stomach. The same site goes on to say that while babies transition out of swaddles and/or sleep sacks at an average 4 or 5 months of age, it's not uncommon for babies to continue loving the swaddle until they're 8, 9, and even 10 months old.
Knowing when to stop using a sleep sack isn't a hard and fast rule for every child because, as you guessed it, every child is different. Try to watch for any discomfort or overheating, and monitor your child's preference to know when to make the move.