Baby sleep sacks have long been used in Europe and are increasingly popular in the United States and other countries. Parents are turning to these baby-sized sleeping bags as a way to keep their little ones comfortable during the night. As all parents know, comfortable babies are much more likely to sleep through the night than ones that get too hot or cold.

Sleep sacks are exactly what they sound like, fabric pouches that enclose your child snugly but leave their head and arms free. They typically zip up like a sleeping bag and have shoulder straps that stop the sleep sack from sliding off. Unlike adult sleeping bags, baby sleep sacks have deep arm holes that allow ventilation, which helps to maintain a stable temperature.

Sleep sacks have many advantages over baby blankets or comforters. A key one is that they cannot be kicked off during the night so the baby does not become exposed to the cold. They also are safer than blankets, which can get tangled around the baby’s legs, arms or even neck. Inappropriate bedding has been linked to an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. Knowing that their baby is snug and secure allows parents to sleep easier.

There are even more benefits to using a sleep sack. Their lightweight nature makes them ideal for traveling and the familiar cocoon will enable a baby to sleep more easily when in a different environment. They can also be built into the bedtime routine and serve as a visual cue that it is time for sleep. As a baby grows and becomes more mobile, sleep sacks help to restrict some of the thrashing around that leads to frequent wakeups.

These infant sleeping bags come in a range of fabrics, colors and styles. Most manufacterers use  natural fibers such as cotton or merino wool, and some use a microfiber lining. There are different weights that cater to all climates and seasons so parents often find it useful to have more than one type. Sleep sacks are available in sizes that suit from newborns all the way through to toddlers. The infant models sometimes come with wings that can be fastened around the torso to provide a swaddling feeling for the baby.

Regardless of the design chosen, baby sleep sacks are a great way to help babies stay safe, secure and snug throughout the night. Because they sell for a range of prices, from US$20 to over US$100, they are great gifts for expecting parents.