A good swaddle is a must have for any new baby, followed by a great sleep sack when baby is ready to transition out of the swaddle. But with so many swaddles and sleep sacks on the market it's impossible to know which ones will work for your child. All are made with the same goal in mind - to help your baby sleep better and longer. But in my experience, they don't all work to meet that goal.
Why do I need a swaddle?
Babies are born with a startle reflex (the Moro reflex) which can frequently wake a sleeping baby. By swaddling for naps and nighttime sleep, you can make baby feel more secure and snug like he was in the womb, helping to calm the Moro reflex. Swaddling is also a great soothing technique for a fussy baby.
Why do I need a sleep sack?
Baby's Moro reflex goes away usually between 4-6 months. When baby starts to roll, or begins busting a hand out of the swaddle, you'll want to transition to a sleep sack. It's not safe for anything to be in the crib with baby until at least 12 months old, so putting a blanket in the crib is dangerous. Good luck keeping a blanket on your baby anyway.
A sleep sack provides that warm and snugly feeling for naps and bedtime, and acts as an indication to baby that it's time to sleep. I recommend using a sleep sack the entire time baby is in a crib. See this post to learn when to transition baby out of the crib and for tricks to keep baby from climbing out.
Favorite swaddles and sleep sacks
I've tried so many different swaddles and sleep sacks for my son. Most of which he hated and I couldn't stand putting him in. I always ended up back with the same ones, and they're truly the most basic of styles. They work and they're simple and easy to use.
1. The Halo Swaddle was by far our favorite swaddle. This swaddle keeps baby nice and snug, and once you're ready to transition, the swaddle portion just drops under baby's arms and you can continue using it until he outgrows the sleep sack. After trying countless different swaddles, we always went back to this one. The only down side is the Velcro on the swaddle was very loud and disruptive during midnight diaper changes.
2. The SwaddleMe is a very similar style as the Halo Swaddle but at a lower price point. We actually didn't try this one, but I like how the swaddle portion itself comes up higher than on the Halo Swaddle. My son always liked to keep his hands up by his mouth when swaddled, and this would have kept his little arms better covered than the Halo Swaddle did.
3. The Halo Sleepsack was our go to from the time we transitioned out of the swaddle to about 15 months. These sleep sacks are amazing quality and I love that they come in cotton for summer and fleece for colder months. You really can't beat the quality of these ones. My son used hand-me-down ones until he outgrew all of them, and we'll pass them on to another baby because they're still in great shape.
4. The Burt's Bees Baby Beekeeper Wearable Blanket is my absolute favorite sleep sack. It's just so good. When my son outgrew his Halo Sleepsacks, I wanted to try the Burt's Bees because I just love most of their baby line. This sleep sack is now my hands-down favorite. It's lightweight for spring and summer, so soft, and 100% organic cotton. The arms fit nice and snug underneath, and the bottom section is huge, but in a good way. My son is currently in a size large - he's 23 lbs and 33 inches tall. And he can probably be in this for at least another 6 months. The only downside is that for winter I would want to go with a slightly warmer sleep sack, and this one doesn't come in varying fabrics so we'll probably go back to a fleece Halo for winter.
5. The aden + anais muslin sleep sacks are my go to for those HOT summer days. Our summers are triple digits here and my son's room is often 74-75 degrees and warm on those days. On days like that I put him in a muslin sleep sack with just his t-shirt on. Muslin sleep sacks are great for room temps of 74-78 degrees. Ideal room temp is 68-72 degrees, but when you just can't get the room down low enough I recommend a ceiling fan on low, tower fan aimed off of baby to keep air circulating, blackout curtains (always!) and these sleep sacks.
Least favorite swaddles and sleep sacks
I wasn't lying when I said we tried a TON of these. So to hopefully save you some time in your search, below are my completely honest and unbiased reviews of the ones I tried and didn't care for. I have nothing against any of these and I have clients who have used these successfully, but they didn't work for us.
1. The Zipadee-Zip sleep sack is a great concept, but my son absolutely hated it. He wanted to suck on his hands to soothe and got frustrated when he had to suck on the fabric over his hands instead. I think this would be a great transition sleep sack for a baby who doesn't suck their hands.
2. The Woombie Swaddling Blanket I wanted to love this and might have if we'd introduced it when my son was younger. We tried it when he was about 8 weeks old and he wanted his hands up by his face while still remaining swaddled so he could suck his hands. This completely prevented him from accessing his hands and just made him frustrated.
3. The Ergobaby Swaddle Wrap just was horrible. It didn't fit properly, the sleeve design didn't work and barely fit on our son's arms, and the sleep sack portion sat down too far under his arms so there was a huge gap where his pjs showed through. I wouldn't recommend this one.