Getting your baby to sleep can be something of an Olympic sport.
There's the rocking, the feeding, the stories, the singing... and then there's what you dress them in for bed. For comfort and safety, a sleeping bag for your baby is hard to beat.
Think of your child's sleeping bag as the most wearable of blankets – when they move it moves with them and crucially doesn't leave their legs out in the cold. It also gives you peace of mind, which if you're a new parent is invaluable. As long as you've followed the safety guidelines for finding the right fit you can be confident you're providing the safest sleep environment possible. Once the what-to-wear is sorted we've also got some expert advice on developing your bedtime routine.
Here's our guide for the perfect night's sleep.
What Are The Benefits If I Use A Sleeping Bag?
Babies sleep a lot. And let's face it if a baby has a good night's sleep, so do you. But with the worry of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), it's hard to imagine ever sleeping again in favour of perching at the end of their cot and monitoring every breath. There are many benefits to using baby sleeping bags, not least the fact that they reduce the risk of baby overheating or pulling loose covers up over their head.
Using a sleeping bag will keep their temperature consistent, as they can't get out of the sleeping bag once it's fastened properly. And your baby will remain comfortable despite how much they may move around.
Additionally, sleeping bags also allow your baby enough space to roll around and kick their legs if they like to wriggle. They'll also soon discover the joy of raising both legs while in their baby sleeping bag and thumping them back down together. As a bonus, it's thought that sleeping bags promote back sleeping (the safest option for those under six months) by minimising their ability to roll over.
What Tog Do I Need?
Just as we would buy a duvet based on its tog rating, so too should we buy a sleeping bag with the right tog. Here in the UK, it's likely you'll need multiple bags each with a different tog to take you through all seasons. When considering the tog you also need to consider what else your baby will be wearing and adjust their clothing accordingly.
3.5 Tog: This is the warmest sleeping bag and it's unlikely you'd ever need to use this unless the room temperature drops below 14 degrees.
2.5 Tog: This is a good mid-weight sleeping bag to use between 14 and 22 degrees. In chillier times pair with a cotton bodysuit and sleepsuit. Once temperatures get up to 17 degrees plus you can team this tog with just a cotton bodysuit.
1.5 Tog: A baby sleep bag of this weight is great for warm weather, offering light protection. Between 22 and 25 degrees dress your baby in a cotton bodysuit as well.
0.5 Tog: A lightweight sleeping bag can be used in warm weather. Pop a short-sleeved bodysuit on underneath or if it's really hot your baby can sleep just in their nappy.
The above are guidelines only as each child responds to temperature differently. Check your baby's temperature by feeling the back of their neck. If it's damp they may be too hot.
How Should The Sleeping Bag Fit?
Your baby sleeper bag needs to be the perfect fit for your little one to ensure it can do its job. The most important part is to find a sleeping bag for the baby that is the right size. Sleeping bags for babies typically come in three sizes: 0-6 months, 6-18 months and 18-36 months. Look for a sleeping bag with extra poppers to adjust the fit as your little one grows. To check the size, try it on your baby while they're awake and look for:
Arm Holes: Should a be snug fit without being too tight. Your baby shouldn't be able to pull their arm free and put it inside the sleeping bag. The smaller sized sleeping bags have extra poppers under the arm so that you can get a better fit while your baby is still little.
Neck Holes: Under no circumstances should your baby be able to slip their head down inside the bag. You don't want a neck hole that is too restrictive so make sure there is some room but it's important it is tight enough to stay in place.
Sleeves and Hoods: Although you can buy a sleeping bag for babies with sleeves or a hood these should be avoided. While you may think you're providing extra warmth these features can actually be a hazard if your baby overheats.
How Can I Ensure My Sleeping Bag Is Safe?
As with anything relating to your baby, safety is a top priority. Before purchasing a baby sleeping bag there are a number of checks you can make to ensure that the product you're buying is safe to use.
Label: Take a close look at the label. The British standard for sleeping bags for babies is BS 8510: 2009 and it must conform to this.
Fastenings: Check to ensure that any small parts of the baby sleeping bag are secure. Give the zip a tug to make sure it stays in place. You should also check that the zip and any other fastenings are covered in fabric so they don't come into contact with your baby's skin.
Washing: It's vital to follow washing instructions to avoid any shrinkage. Each time it's washed and dried do a quick visual check that the size hasn't been affected, as this could alter how it fits your child and its effectiveness.
Stitching and Seams: Before you buy, check that these have been finished well. If they're unfinished or coming loose don't buy, as it will mean sleeping bags are not safe or able to do their job properly. While checking also make sure any inside labels are secure and that there are no added loops which could present a hazard for your baby's fingers.
Fit: Use the stated size as a guide only. Don't assume that a bag marked 0-6 months will automatically fit your four-month-old. Check above for how to ensure a good fit and if you need to size up or down then do so.
Wear: Always make sure your baby is positioned correctly in the sleep baby bag and that all fastenings are secured properly.
Cora Lydon is a freelance journalist living in Suffolk with her husband and two children. She’s also a children’s book author who loves finding activities and place to inspire her children. Her dining table bears the scars of many craft activities attempts (many unsuccessful).