Baby sleeping bags have revolutionised the way British parents put their little ones to bed over the last decade. For the uninitiated, they're slightly different to the grown-up versions used on camping trips – the baby wears the bag like a coat, with a zip down the front or poppers at the shoulder. Unlike a coat though, the bottom of the bag is closed and it should be sleeveless to help avoid overheating.
The sleeping bag replaces top sheets and blankets, so all you'll need is a sheet over your baby's mattress. He or she then wears normal nightclothes underneath the bag, with some adjustment according to the room's temperature (perhaps just a vest and nappy on a hot night, a sleepsuit on a colder one).
Whilst there are plenty of modern baby gear inventions we think you can do without (wipes warmer anyone?), sleeping bags really do make life easier for lots of reasons:
- You needn't fiddle around with layers of sheets and blankets at your baby's bedtime, only for them to fall or be kicked off in the night leaving tiny arms and legs cold, or worse a blanket ending up over his or her head.
- They're easy to pack and take away with you when you're travelling or visiting friends and relatives. Some babies are comforted by the familiarity of their sleeping bag even if the cot and room they're in are unfamiliar.
- Because they're closed at the bottom, they can hamper efforts by older babies and toddlers to climb out of the cot.
- Bags with tog ratings mean less worrying about how much bedding your baby needs or what they should wear to bed. The tog ratings (see below) give an indication of warmth, whereas blankets are of varying thicknesses and materials so guidance such as 'use two blankets if the nursery is 20 degrees' can be confusing.
- Your baby stays nice and snug during night feeds as they can remain in the bag.
Okay enough of the gushing – you get the picture that we think they're worth buying.
Things to consider when shopping:
Most sleeping bags come with a tog rating which is a measure of its warmth. These are considerably lower than on adult duvets but don't be concerned by this - babies need much lower togs for their bedding. As a guide:
– 2 to 2.5tog is suitable for all year use other than mid-summer
- 0.5 or 1 tog bags are thinner and designed for summer nights and day time naps.
It's essential that the bag is the right size for your baby - if the neck hole is too wide, their head might slip down inside the bag which could be dangerous. Some bags can only be used when your baby reaches 8 or 10lbs – if you have a smaller newborn, you'll need alternative bedding initially. One way to manage this is to buy pram size sheets and blankets for your moses basket or crib or use a swaddle blanket such as this and then switch to bags later on when you move your baby to a proper cot.
Fabrics and fillings
Outer layers need to be nice and soft against your baby's delicate skin. Generally natural materials such as cotton jersey or towelling are more breathable than artificial ones. Most higher tog bags have a polyester filling but some are 100 cotton covers in blue or pink. The one pictured is 2.5 tog so at the upper end warmth-wise and suitable for babies from 0-6 months but the retailer also does 6-18 months and 1 tog versions too.
Good for: Being great value.
Not so good for: You'll have to brave the hell that is a trip to Ikea – choose your timing wisely as those long queues aren't much fun when heavily pregnant or with a tiny baby in tow.
3. Green Baby Farmyard Print Organic Sleeping Bag, £32, greenbaby.com
Organic cotton sleeping bag from one of our favourite purveyors of greener gear for little people. The zip does up from top to bottom to make it harder for your baby to fiddle with the fastening.
Good for: Parents who'd rather dress their baby for bed in organic items.
Not so good for: As with some of the other brands, the minimum weight is 10lbs so you'll have to wait to start using these unless your baby is on the large side.
4. Bambino Merino Sleeping Bag, £56.95, Bambinomerino.com
Utterly luxurious, these bags are made from ultra-soft merino wool and cotton but don't worry they're still easy to wash. Although they're pricey, the temperature regulating qualities of the merino wool mean you won't need to buy bags in different tog ratings - one bag works in all seasons and the adjustable design means one size fits babies weighing 10lbs up to about two years of age.
Good for: Gorgeous softness and a feeling a luxury – they make a lovely new baby gift. And we like the way they can be used all year round.
Not so good for: The cost – you could treat your baby to one of these and then get some cheaper ones as back up. And again, the minimum weight of 10lbs means you'll need an alternative for the first few weeks.
5. Aden and Anais Classic Sleeping Bag, £25, Adenandanais.co.uk
Made from breathable, prettily printed muslin cloth, these sleeping bags are ideal for warmer weather when a standard one would be too thick. There's also a heavier weight, four layer option available (although we don't think it offers very good value compared to other warmer bags).
Good for: Hot summer nights and daytime sleeps if the heating's on high.
Not so good for: The rest of the year. They're really quite thin. And the size bands are smaller than on most bags so they won't be used for so long.