Your little one has worn a sleep sack since the day they transitioned out of the swaddle. They love it, recognizing it as a positive sleep cue, but you’re stuck wondering:
“When do babies stop wearing sleep sacks?”
The simple answer: When it’s no longer working for your child. My professional opinion, as a certified sleep consultant: when they transition to the toddler bed around 3+ years old!
We’ve heard it more times than we can count: 12 months of age is when you should transition your little one out of a sleep sack to sleeping with a blanket; however, there is no set age that you have to stop using a sleep sack and the benefits of continuing to use a sleep sack are numerous!
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Can my toddler sleep with a blanket after their first birthday?
Babies and toddlers are active sleepers, meaning they move around a lot in their sleep. Blankets often get kicked off or lost in the corner when given to toddlers. Sleep sacks are wearable blankets that help keep your child's temperature regulated while they sleep. A key factor in helping your toddler sleep well, is making sure they are dressed appropriately for sleep times.
Ideal temperature is 68-72 degrees 𝗕𝗨𝗧 you need to also factor in where you live and the normal for your household. A good rule of thumb is to go by your own internal temperature. What are you comfortable wearing in your home? Do you tend to get hot or cold easily?
For example, as the weather is warming up now, I often sleep in a t-shirt + shorts under sheets + mid-weight comforter. I dress my youngest similarly in that he wears a onsie and a 0.8 tog sleep sack.
Many parents overdress their little ones out of fear of them being cold but often overdressing can cause more sleep issues, as babies become fussy, unsettled, and hot. Check your baby's chest or neck to feel how comfortable they feel: ✅ if they are warm (sweaty), remove a layer ✅ if they are cool, add a layer (be it a onsie, a thicker sleep sack, etc.)
My baby is walking. Should I transition from the sleep sack to a blanket?
The acquisition of new motor skills bring about a new realm of new challenges, often including the worry about your little one climbing out the crib. Our goal is to keep our little ones in the crib until as close as 3 years old as possible so they fully understand the concept "stay in the bed".
Sleep sacks prevent our littles from becoming escape artist by making it difficult to swing their legs over the top of the crib railing. Sleep sacks play an important role in keeping our toddlers safe. If you’re looking for a sleep sack that your little one can walk around in, we absolutely love the Dreamsuit, which is a sleep bag with legs!
My toddler is now too big for their sleep sack, but we’re not ready for the transition! What should I do?
Babies come in a variety of sizes at various ages so making sure you're using a proper fitting sleep sack is important. Most sleep sack companies provide size guides to help you find the right size based on your baby’s weight and height. If the largest sleep sack you can find no longer fits, it’s time to consider a transition out of the sleep sack.
There is no reason to rush your child if they are not ready to give up their sleep sacks, as they serve as a great sleep aid, as they often help our little ones settle quickly for sleep when used consistently. I often recommend dropping the sleep sack when you make the transition to a toddler bed, which I recommend doing as close to 3 years old as possible.
So how do we drop the sleep sack? Here are my top 3 tips:
1. Start with naps.
Just like transitioning to a toddler bed, we begin with naps in order to safeguard overnight sleep, which is when the most restorative sleep occurs. If your toddler has a hard time sleeping without their sleep sack during nap time, simply move bedtime earlier to help adjust their sleep needs.
2. Let your toddler pick a blanket they love so they feel comfortable without their sleep sack.
Involving your toddler in the process of removing the sleep sack will help make the transition go more smoothly, as this is often a much bigger transition than many parents realize. Exchanging the sleep sack for a new lovey or blanket will help your little one feel comfortable during sleep times as sleep sacks often provide this comfort. Many parents begin this process early in order to help the transition down the road.
3. Dress your toddler as if you would sleep without a blanket.
Remember we talked about how toddlers move a lot in their sleep so there is a very real possibility that a blanket will quickly get lost when your toddler is learning to sleep without their sleep sack. We want to ensure your toddler remains comfortable throughout the night so dressing them in layers or footie pajamas is always a great place to start. How you dress your toddler for sleep times will depend upon their sleep environment and their personal comfort levels!
If it isn’t broken, no need to fix it; however, there will come a time when it’s time to say “Goodbye” to the sleep sack! When the time comes, you’re now prepared to tackle the transition safely like a pro!
Kelley Thompson is a Nashville certified pediatric sleep consultant, mom of 3, and former elementary school teacher. For the past 7 years Kelley has helped many exhausted families around the world reclaim the joys of parenthood with healthy sleep habits.
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Dreamsuit & Dreamsie For Blanket Kicking Babies
Croissant Dreamsie - 0.8 TOG Sleep Sack With Sleeves
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