When your little one is still small, sleep sacks are a fantastic option.
Your wee one can’t wriggle out of these mini sleeping bags no matter how much they toss and turn, so they stay nice and cosy throughout the night and during naps too. For young babies, they are also a safer option than blankets as they can’t come loose and become a hazard.
However, as your child grows, the time will come when you need to transition them from a sleep sack to bedding and a pillow.
Some find the move a piece of cake, while others might have a harder time adjusting. So, how do you know when the time is right to ditch the sleep sack, and how to go about it?
Let’s answer those questions now so you can rest easy knowing your little one is sleeping easily – and safely.
Health experts recommend avoiding the use of loose bedding in the cot for at least the first 12 months and pillows and duvets from 2 years of age. But just because that first year has passed doesn’t mean you have to switch from a sleep sack to sheets and blankets. You can buy larger sleep sacks to accommodate your growing toddler, and if they are still comfy, there’s no need to rush the transition.
In fact, there can be benefits for sticking with sleep sacks for a bit longer: they stay where they are meant to, so you don’t have to pop into your baby’s room to cover them up and tuck them in several times a night. Plus, sleep sacks can make it a little tricky for adventurous toddlers to climb out of their cots, encouraging them to stay put just a little bit longer!
Knowing When It Is The Right Time
If you have a particularly restless child that ends up topsy turvy during the night, you may want to stick with the sleep sack a little longer. However, if you have a peaceful less mobile sleeper, you may be ready to try bedding a little sooner.
Your child's sleeping situation can also impact your decision. Once you decide to move your toddler from a slatted cot to a “grown-up” bed, they will probably become more mobile, making bedding a better option.
Safety-wise, I recommend waiting until your child has the appropriate motor skills to move around freely and pull covers on and off easily. This should happen somewhere between the ages of two and three years.
How To Transition Out Of A Sleep Sack And Into Bedding
As with any new routine for your child, it’s best to start slowly. You may want to begin the process during the warmer months, so you don’t have to be too worried about your child getting cold overnight if the blanket slips off. However if this in not possible try and dress your child warmly enough so they don't need much bedding. An all in one sleepsuit usually works best.
Introduce a special blanket outside of nap time to get them used to manipulating it – and reassure you that they can pull it on and off easily. Bring a light blanket out when they are having cuddles with you on the sofa or lying on the floor in the lounge.
Once you are confident that they can pull the blanket on and off with ease, introduce a light sheet over the sleep sack, and teach them that being tucked in under a sheet is part of the bedtime routine.
If this goes smoothly, progress to a light blanket and remove the sleep sack altogether.
When it comes to pillows, let your child be your guide. The pillow must be small and light enough for your toddler to pick it up and move it themselves. Opt for a relatively flat pillow to help with comfort. Your child has been sleeping flat since birth, so it can take a while for them to adjust to the elevation. The good news is pillows can help anchor your toddler in one place especially when moving into a big bed.
Remember, every child is different: some may adapt instantly to bedding, while others may reject the concept until they are a bit older. Don’t panic if this is the case for your little one: dress them in warm sleepsuits to ensure they remain comfortable even if the blankets come off, and stick with it.