What is a baby or toddler sleeping bag?
A baby or toddler sleeping bag is a vest that extends into a soft bag-like bottom that your baby sleeps in. Sleeping bags are usually fastened using a zip that runs the full length of the bag, either down the middle or along the side. Some also fasten with poppers. Most parents start using them when their baby is a few weeks or months old.
Available in different togs, or thicknesses, for the different seasons, they’re designed to keep your child snug and warm and avoid the problem of kicking off the covers and getting cold.
How old is your baby?
Choosing the right size of sleeping bag is essential for your peace of mind and so that your baby gets a good night’s sleep. Don’t be put off by the length of a sleeping bag – although it may look like there are meters of excess material, your baby will appreciate this kicking room.
Most manufacturers produce different size bags based on age ranges, say 6-12 months or 6-18 months. For example, the Gro Company's baby sleeping bags (Grobags) are sized like this:
- 0-6 months (from 8lb 8oz/4kg)
- 6-18 months (from 18lb/8.1kg)
- 18-36 months (from 25lb/11.4kg)
Others are simply classed as ‘baby’ or ‘toddler’ bags. Look out for adjustable features, such as extendable elasticated waistbands and button up bottoms that allow the bag to grow with your baby.
Size matters because you need to be sure that your baby can’t slip down inside – to make sure this doesn’t happen the arms and neck holes in the vest-style upper half shouldn’t be too big.
What tog do you need?
Tog is a measure of thermal resistance. Put simply, it means how thick, and therefore how warm, a material is – togs are commonly used when talking about adult duvets, too. The higher the number, the thicker and warmer the sleeping bag. Most sleeping bags are available in three tog ratings:
- 0.5 tog – for hot summer days and nights, and holidays in hot climates
- 1 tog - warm summer months and daytime naps.
- 2.5 tog - for all-year-round use, except hot summer nights.
There are also tog-less sleeping bags that can be use all year round, made from Merino wool. Merino wool traps and releases moisture and heat to keep your baby warm when it’s cool and cool when the weather warms up. Check out the Merino Kids Go Go Bag and the Bambino Merino Baby Sleeping Bag.
Do you want to use it in the car or buggy?
Using a sleeping bag in the car or in a buggy is an option if the bag has holes or loops for the harness straps. Front and back two-way zips allow you to feed the 5-point harness though the bag without disturbing your sleeping baby.
This feature solves the dilemma of what to do if you need to make a swift transition from cot to car – think early morning holiday travelling – or a late dinner out and about. It’s also handy for those parents who rely on a car ride or push in the buggy to soothe their baby.
Do you want one you can change a nappy in?
If night-time nappy changes are a regular occurrence in your house, opt for a bag with a zip or poppers around the sides and bottom edge. This avoids the problem of totally undressing your baby or toddler and waking them up when you need to put a clean nappy on.
What safety info do you need to know?
Sleeping bags have been used in France, Germany and Holland for over 20 years as a safe form of bedding for babies and toddlers but they’ve only been used in the UK for around 10 years.
The Lullaby Trust includes sleeping bags as one of its five bedtime basics to reduce the risk of cot death and says they are a safe alternative to blankets. However, the following guidelines need to be followed:
- To reduce the risk of your baby overheating, never use a sleeping bag with a quilt or duvet, and choose a lightweight nag.
- Avoid sleeping bags with a hood. It can be dangerous if your baby’s head becomes covered. The Lullaby Trust advises keeping your baby’s head uncovered to reduce the risk of cot death.
- Make sure that the sleeping bag fits well around the neck and armholes so your baby doesn’t slip down inside the bag.
Where do you start?
Sleeping bags make sense for lots of families. For help and advice on choosing the right bag for you, see our in-depth sleeping bag reviews. We’ve also got loads of essential reading, including tips and advice, on safe sleeping for your baby and sleep advice for your toddler.