Baby Blanket Vs. Sleep Sack

Overview

Walk around a baby superstore, and prepare to be overwhelmed. From the traditional baby items of pacifiers and diapers to high-tech video baby monitors and developmental tools, the old and the new are marketed to suit every need. Nursery needs are among the biggest business, with even the time-honored baby blanket up for discussion. We’ll consider whether the blanket or the modern sleep sack is the best—and, most important—safest for your baby.

Baby Blanket

The baby blanket is one the most common gifted baby items. From bright designs to muted pastels, they are small and made to fit baby perfectly. Baby blankets are extra soft to match baby’s tender skin. They have been used for generations and are so adorable it begs the question what there could be to improve upon.

Sleep Sack

The sleep sack designers had a few ideas. They are sleeveless sleeping-bag style outerwear that zips up the front. They are made to be worn on top of pajamas, come in a variety of colors and hues and claim to tackle all the problems caused by old-fashioned blankets.

Dangers

Many will ask when the blanket became such a danger. The answer is found in emerging SIDS studies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, “the leading cause of death among infants aged 1-12 months,” have found overheating and suffocation to be among the top reasons babies have unexplained crib death. A 2009 publication of the “American Academy of Pediatrics” notes that soft bedding “increases the risk of SIDS by five times” and recommends against “soft objects or loose bedding in the crib,” the common culprit being baby bedding.

Safety

Baby blankets and sleep sacks are designed to help diminish SIDS risk. The blanket is typically thinner than adult blankets, which can combat the overheating issue. The sleep sack, however, considers both issues. Also made thin enough to not overheat, it also does not cover the arms, leaving warmth to be provided by baby’s pajamas. Additionally, as the sleep sack is worn as outwear, zipping snugly up the front, baby has little risk of becoming entangled in it while moving during the night. The AAP recommends if using a blanket that it be “thin” and tucked in “around the crib,” and they endorse the use of “sleep sacks/wearable blankets.”

Comfort

One baby blanket advantages is swaddling. Swaddling allows babies to be snugly wrapped like in the womb and has been found in some cases to promote sleep in infants. Sleep sacks’ uniform shape does not allow for swaddling. However Dr. Susan T. Mahan and Dr. James R. Kasser of Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School found in a 2007 study that swaddling “is a risk factor for developmental dysplasia of the hip” in neonates. Families must weigh the advantages and disadvantages of both. According to their baby’s needs and when used appropriately, both the baby blanket and sleep sack can provide a safe and happy night’s sleep for baby.

About this Author

Ashley Ekpo has been merging her left and right brain interests by writing and working in health and medicine for more than 10 years. She is a recipient of the Charles W. Riley Fire and EMS Award, has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Maryland, and is a nationally registered paramedic.