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Sleep Sack or Sleep Swaddle? Which is Right for Your Baby

Both a sleep sack and a sleep swaddle are safe and effective sleepwear options for baby, so how do you choose which is right for your little one? Let’s break down the benefits of each and figure out which is the best fit.

In This Article 

What is a Sleep Swaddle?

What is a Sleep Sack?

Which is Right for My Baby?

Common Questions from New Parents

Baby sleepwear laid out on bed.

When you’re suiting baby up for bedtime there are a few crucial elements to consider. There are some straightforward factors, like age, but also be sure to pay attention to the less concrete things like how your baby responds to their sleepwear. We’re going to cover the main factor to keep in mind when evaluating your little one’s sleepwear options, so both of you can sleep soundly.  But first, let’s define what exactly a sleep sack and a sleep swaddle are. 

What is a Sleep Swaddle?

Baby dressed in sleep swaddle.

A sleep swaddle (like the Zen Swaddle) is a thin blanket that wraps around your baby so that their limbs are snug and supported. This type of baby sleepwear helps reduce the effects of an infant's natural moro reflex, so they don’t startle awake as much during the night.  Some swaddles look less like a traditional wrap-around swaddle, like the Zen One Swaddle. The Zen One has an adjustable band to hold baby’s arms snugly to their torso, but it also has adaptable, removable mesh sleeves that grow with your baby more than a traditional swaddle. 

What is a Sleep Sack?

Baby sleeping in crib dressed in baby sleep sack.

A baby sleep sack (like the Zen Sack)  is a wearable blanket that is usually arms-free but keeps the lower limbs snug while sleeping. Since the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests not having blankets in your infant’s crib or sleep space, to reduce the risk of SIDS, sleep sacks are a great option to keep baby safe and warm all night long. The Zen Sack is also reversible for baby’s who can roll over autonomously and prefer tummy sleeping. 

Which is Right for My Baby?

There are a few major factors to consider when deciding whether a sleep sack or a sleep swaddle is the right sleepwear for your baby.

  • Age

On almost all baby sleepwear, there will be an age range that is best suited for that product. Generally, swaddles are age-appropriate for infants between zero and six months old, but be sure to check the age recommendations for each particular product.

  • Stage

Your baby’s developmental stage should also be taken into consideration when choosing their sleepwear. If they are still experiencing strong moro reflex then a swaddle is likely the best option, so their sleep is less likely to be disturbed by startling themselves awake. But if moro reflex is less prevalent in your baby, they have started to roll over on their own, and they prefer tummy sleeping, it’s probably time to transition into a sleep sack!

  • Cues

Your baby will let you know what they feel more comfortable in. If they prefer one over the other it will probably be reflected in how they react when you dress them for bed or how well they sleep at night. If your little one is within the safe age, weight, and developmental stage range for the product that they seem to prefer, stick with that one!

As your baby gets stronger, they’re likely to jailbreak their swaddle blankets, and it could be time to graduate to a sack instead. Because these items have some structure, there are different sizes available based on age and weight.  -

Pro-Tip: Gently Weighted at Any Stage

Nested Bean’s range of safely weighted sleepwear products will help your baby fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer from their newborn Zen Swaddle until they grow out of their last Zen Sack

Other Resources

Healthychildren.Org: Swaddling: Is it Safe?

Wikipedia: William Cadogan (childcare writer)

Safe to Sleep: Safe to Sleep® Shareable Content

American Academy of Pediatrics: Spontaneous Arousals in Supine Infants

Common questions about sleep Sack or sleep swaddle

What Sleepwear is Best for Newborns?

Newborns have a heightened moro reflex, so it’s pivotal that their sleepwear tucks their arms and legs close to their body to reduce startle wake-ups. That is why a swaddle, such as the Zen Swaddle or the Zen One is best for the newborn stage.

What’s the Difference Between a Sleep Swaddle and a Sleep Sack?

The key difference is that a sleep sack is a more relaxed fit and normally has baby’s arms free, and the sleep swaddle holds all of baby’s limbs snug to their body for a more controlled fit.

What Sleepwear is Best for Babies Who Can Roll Over?

A sleep sack is best for babies who can roll over because they need arms out to maneuver their body weight and autonomously roll. Be sure to choose a sleeve-free sleep sack, like the Zen Sack, if your baby is a tummy sleeper or likes to roll in their sleep.

How Does Zen Sleepwear™ Help Get Baby to Sleep?

Zen Sleepwear™ is safely weighted in key areas to mimic a parent’s touch on their chest to soothe them into sleep faster and help them stay asleep longer. Over one million parents who have introduced Zen Sleepwear to their baby’s daily routine have seen improvements in sleep. It’s great to use as a part of your baby’s sleepwear!

Athena S.

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