In this section, we’ll cover what your baby wears to sleep with an extra focus on swaddling newborn babies. Since babies spend so much time sleeping (or, at least, we hope they do!), it’s wise to choose organic newborn baby sleepwear and swaddles whenever possible.
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Newborn Baby Pajamas:
Unless you live in a very warm climate, or you have a summer baby, you’ll probably want to put your baby to bed in a footed pajama. I prefer the zip-up version over the button-up kind, but they’re not always easy to find. Cotton is preferable, since it’s a breathable fabric. Fleece pajamas should always be avoided for newborns and infants, as it is a synthetic fabric, and is therefore not breathable.
Burt’s Bees Baby has a 100% lightweight organic cotton zip-up footed pajama. Under the Nile makes some adorable and slightly heavier weight footed pajamas. Hanna Andersson makes high-quality PJs, but they are footless. If you do live in a warm climate, you could simply put your baby to bed in a short-sleeved bodysuit and pants (socks would be optional).
In addition to baby’s pajamas, you’ll likely want to swaddle your baby to help them sleep during those first few months.
Why Swaddle Newborn Babies?
During the first three months of life, aka the “fourth trimester”, your baby will still be adjusting to the world, and desperately still needs to feel the comforts of the womb. One of the best ways to help your new little bundle of joy get some sleep is to swaddle her for naps and night sleep. This helps newborns sleep because it makes them feel snug and tight (just like in the womb), and it also helps control their startle reflex, which prevents them from waking up mid-sleep cycle.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that when done correctly, swaddling can be an effective technique to help calm infants and promote sleep.” –Healthy Children
The mistake we made at first was thinking that our son didn’t like being swaddled, so we didn’t swaddle him. Rookie mistake! We just needed to try harder, and to be more confident in the swaddle. So, mamas, make sure you are confident in the swaddle and committed to it. Whichever option you choose, here are a few important tips for buying swaddle blankets:
- Have plenty on hand. You’ll need to replace them at least every time baby’s diaper leaks, and that will happen quite often. Not only that, but make sure to keep them in rotation so baby stays fresh. I recommend getting at least four blankets.
- Buy only the larger swaddle blankets. Make sure to get the 47” x 47” swaddle blankets. Any smaller and you won’t be able to get a good tight swaddle as your little one grows.
- Choose the right material. Whatever you do, don’t buy bamboo swaddle blankets! (Aden + Anais makes some of these.) They’re soft and pretty and come in lovely colors but you might as well swaddle your baby in toilet paper (don’t do that), because they’re too soft, making them useless for swaddling. Save yourself the money and just get a set of the muslin swaddles. Muslin is a safe and breathable fabric for swaddling.
Swaddling Newborn Babies (0-4 months):
You have many different options for swaddling newborn babies, and we spent a pretty penny figuring out which swaddles worked best for our little boy. Before you start ordering swaddle after swaddle on Amazon (like I did) in an effort to find one your baby likes, keep in mind that most babies appear not to like to be swaddled. They’ll cry when you swaddle them. They’ll fight the swaddle. Our son even used to wiggle his way out of his swaddle. But, no matter how much they pout when you start bundling them up in a swaddle, it should help them sleep better.
Here are some great organic swaddle blankets (and a few non-organic options too):
- Muslin Swaddle Blankets (6-8). Ahhh, the old go-to. Muslin swaddle blankets are popular for a reason: they do the job. At first, it’s hard to figure out just how to swaddle your baby with a thin little blanket. But with a little bit of practice, you’ll come to love these pretty (and functional) blankets. We tried the Aden + Anais Organic Swaddle Blankets, as well as the iPlay Organic Muslin Swaddle Blankets. I loved the iPlay blankets at first, but they got a little soft in the wash, which made it harder to keep a tight swaddle. So, I have to recommend the Aden + Anais brand. While these are made in China, they do offer an organic version and the fabric is GOTS certified, which is the way to go. Otherwise, I didn’t have any success locating an organic muslin swaddle blanket that was also made outside of Asia. The Woombie Organic AirWrap Vented Blanket is another interesting option. What I like about these is that they’re stretchy, organic, and breathable. What I don’t love is their size: coming in at 44” x 44”, they’re the smaller size swaddle. I strongly prefer the 47” x 47” swaddle blankets. Any smaller than that, and you won’t be able to get a good, tight swaddle as your baby grows. (The Aden by Aden + Anais line at Target is a less expensive option, but they are also small – 44” x 44” – so I don’t necessarily recommend them for swaddling use.)
- Velcro Swaddle Blankets (1-2). The Summer Infant SwaddleMe Original Swaddle (non-organic) is simply awesome. Why? Because Velcro. They’re so easy to use and provide a snug sleep environment that’s tough for baby to escape from. I highly recommend having one or two of these on hand before baby is born, just in case your first-string swaddle (aka the muslin swaddle) isn’t doing its job and you need to call in some reinforcement. You might find that your little one prefers this to the muslin swaddle blankets entirely. These are also great for double swaddling your little houdini (check with your pediatrician if this is okay).
- Halo Sleepsack. The Halo Sleepsack (non-organic) is a 2-in-1 adjustable swaddle that grows with baby during and after the swaddling stage. During the swaddling stage, it serves as a wearable blanket that allows you to swaddle baby’s arms and contain the startle reflex. After the swaddling stage, the Halo Sleepsack can be used as a type of arms-out swaddle; this works well for babies because it fits snugly around their chest and tummy and gives them a feeling of comfort, or of being held.
- The Miracle Blanket. Everyone swears by The Miracle Blanket (non-organic), saying that it was a life-saver and their baby couldn’t escape this swaddle. (Everyone except me. My son definitely got himself out of this swaddle. But, that doesn’t mean it’s not an exceptional baby product. I recommend this simply because so many moms swear by it.) Unfortunately, they don’t offer an organic version at this time, and it is made in China. Wash it well if you do decide to purchase one. Also, if it works for you, you should have at least one extra on hand in case of diaper leaks. And you don’t want to find yourself putting baby down without your swaddle available.
- Woombie Original One-Step Baby SwaddleCocoon-Like Swaddles (1-2). Consider the Woombie One-Step Baby Swaddle (organic) or the non-organic version. It’s an awesome product! Here’s how it works: You zip baby up into a little cocoon-like swaddle that they can’t break out of. If it fits your baby well, you’re likely going to love this product. This is a great swaddling option and I encourage you to try it. We didn’t give this one enough time before ditching it, and I regret doing so because I’m pretty sure it would have been an awesome swaddle for our little one. The only design flaw I found with this product was that the neck was so snug that it made me a little nervous – hence, why we ditched this after only a few tries. (Again, I would recommend going with the organic version, since newborns spend so much time swaddled.) There’s also a Woombie-like product called the Summer Infant SwaddlePod (non-organic). It doesn’t look like they offer an organic version, but it’s a great, less expensive version of the Woombie.
- Hospital Swaddle Blankets (2-3). Seriously – snatch a few swaddle blankets before leaving the hospital. Yes, make sure it’s not stealing and all. (I’m pretty sure you are being billed an outrageous amount for them anyway.) No, they aren’t organic by any means. But you should take a few of the hospital swaddles home with you because you used them in the hospital and you know they work on your little one. They’re the right size and material, and they get the job done. Do this just in case you have a hard time once you first get home and can’t figure out how to use the fancy new organic swaddles you bought for baby. Just in case.
I hope you have found some great organic swaddler options for your little ones. Swaddling was tough for me, but I found that once I stuck with it, learned how to do a tight-enough (but not too tight) swaddle, and committed to it, it really worked wonders for my little one. Also, if you haven’t heard about the Five S technique by Dr. Harvey Karp, I highly suggest you check out his book, The Happiest Baby on the Block, stream the video, or buy it on DVD. He talks about some great tools for helping baby sleep during the fourth trimester.
When to Stop Swaddling Your Baby:
Once your baby starts showing signs of turning over or onto their side, or pulling up in the bassinet, you’ll need to transition out of the bassinet and out of the swaddle. For most families, this means transitioning to the crib. To make this transition easier for you and baby, I recommend having baby nap in their crib once a day well before the 4-month mark so that they’re used to sleeping in the crib. If that’s not an option, you may want to try one of the following sleep suits to help baby with the transition.
You could also consider using an infant lounger (under your supervision) like the Snuggle Me Organic to help your baby get accustomed to the crib. This would be safest without any of the sleep sacks listed below.
Transitioning Out of the Swaddle (4+ months):
Please note that some of these suits can be a little warm, so you must make sure that baby won’t overheat in these. Don’t use these when your baby has a fever. Talk to your pediatrician for sleepwear guidelines.
- Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit Cotton – Cream – 3-6 monthsBaby Merlin’s Magic Cotton Sleepsuit: The Baby Merlin’s Magic Cotton Sleepsuit is essential! Although it’s manufactured in China and isn’t organic, it is often hailed as a life-saver for parents whose babies have a hard time letting go of the comforts of the swaddle. The Merlin suit offers babies the support and warmth of the swaddle but has open hands and feet to help with circulation. And, it still helps contain your baby’s startle reflex (which is one of the key benefits of swaddling), so it’ll usually allow baby to continue to sleep longer stretches once they’ve left the comforts of the swaddle and their bassinet (or Rock & Play). It’s a good idea to have one of these on hand, so you might want to register for this because it runs a little pricey at around $40. Since it’s not organic, you’ll just want to make sure to wash this well before use. If your little one sleeps well with the Merlin suit, it’s best to have an extra one on hand for when baby’s diaper leaks. It comes in cotton and microfleece, but for safety reasons I recommend choosing cotton, as synthetic fabrics such as fleece aren’t breathable and can therefore lead to overheating. (Fleece is made from polyester.) Please note that once your little one starts rolling over in the Merlin suit, it’s time to stop using it altogether.
- Halo Sleepsack: As mentioned before, the Halo Sleepsack is a 2-in-1 adjustable swaddle that grows with baby during and after the swaddling stage. During the swaddling stage, it serves as a wearable blanket that allows you to swaddle baby’s arms and contain the startle reflex. After baby can no longer be swaddled, the Halo Sleepsack can be used as a type of arms-out swaddle; this works well for babies because it fits snugly around their chest and tummy and gives them a feeling of comfort, or of being held.
- Zipadee-Zip: The Zipadee-Zip is a relatively new product that also aims to help parents with transitioning baby out of the swaddle. It is designed to help contain baby’s startle reflex and features star-shaped pointed sleeves that allow baby to move around freely in the crib while still making baby feel snug. The great news is that the Zipadee-Zip is not treated with chemicals because the company uses fabrics that are naturally flame-retardant (yay!). We tried out a Zipadee-Zip for a few weeks and while it helped, we didn’t find it to be an amazing, must-have sleep item. But this product has a huge following as well, and at the end of the day, it’s really about what works for you and your little one. It’s worth a try at the very least!
- Sleepy Wings Swaddling Organic Cotton Jacket: For some families that didn’t have success with the Merlin suit or the Zipadee-zip, the Sleepy Wings Swaddling Jacket has worked wonders. This product allows you to keep baby’s arms up (which many babies prefer), and it also has little built-in slots for pacifier storage, allowing baby to conveniently insert their own pacifier. Sleepy Wings is manufactured in Australia and made from 90% organic cotton using imported yarns that are grown without pesticides. And then, all of a sudden, you’ll realize that your little one has gotten used to sleeping in their crib and you might not even need to continue using a swaddle transition product. Or, they might start rolling over or moving around, and at that point, the products listed above are no longer considered safe options because they can constrict baby’s movement in their sleep. Once you’ve hit this milestone, you can switch to using a wearable blanket over baby’s pajamas. Wearable blankets are the best way to go because the AAP recommends keeping loose bedding out of the crib. As always, when it comes to anything baby wears or sleeps in, you’ll want to stay away from synthetic fabrics such as fleece, which isn’t breathable and can cause overheating. Choose instead from cotton and wool sleep sacks (please consider the wool ones – I promise you’ll love them).
Post-Sleep Transition Sleepwear Options (~6 months+):
Cotton Wearable Baby Blankets:
- Aden + Anais Classic Muslin Sleeping Bag: What makes the Aden + Anais sleeping bag so popular is that it is made with the softest muslin, which is a breathable fabric that helps to regulate baby’s temperature while they sleep. It also zips up from the bottom, which makes diaper changes easier. There are some negative online reviews about the quality, but I personally haven’t had any issues with mine. It’s best to wash this separately – or to at least avoid washing this with items that contain Velcro strips to avoid tearing the fabric. And as with all of baby’s clothing and other items, use a gentle laundry detergent such as Molly’s Suds. This product comes in three different versions for different climates, so you can choose from the lightweight Classic (75.2-80.6F), the Cozy (69.8-73.4F), and the Cozy Plus (60.8-68 F). Living in Los Angeles, we stick with the Classic version year-round, although we add extra pajama layers during wintertime. We use the Cozy when visiting family in the Mid-West in the colder seasons. (Refer to Aden + Anais’s TOG chart for more information and to view TOG ratings.)
- Aura Weavers Organic Muslin Sleeping Bag: The Aura Weavers Organic Muslin Sleeping Bag is a lightweight, organic alternative to the Aden + Anais sleeping bags. Again, make sure to use a gentle laundry detergent such as Molly’s Suds.
- HALO 100% Cotton Muslin Sleepsack: A muslin sleepsack made by HALO, this comes at a lower price point than the Aden + Anais. Although, some reviewers have commented on the softness of the fabric and the small arm-holes, this is still a great, cost-effective muslin sleepsuit option. It also comes in an organic version, although it runs a little large and it’s not as soft as the other options listed above. HALO is a great brand if you’re on a budget. My only concern with this product is breathability – muslin is breathable but cotton isn’t.
Wearable Wool Blankets:
- Merino Kids Baby Sleep Bag: Made from soft, ethically sourced merino wool sourced from New Zealand and Australian farms, and manufactured in India, the Merino Kids Baby Sleep Bag is a terrific choice! Because wool is a breathable fabric that naturally regulates baby’s temperature – even when room temperatures fluctuate overnight – this product can be used year-round. Since wool is naturally flame retardant, this product doesn’t contain any added fireproofing chemicals, and the outside shell is made from 100% GOTS-certified cotton. Although a bit expensive when compared to the muslin sleeping bags, the Merino Kids Baby Sleep Bag is a great option because it fits baby from age 2 months up until 2 years. Overall, it’s a major winner in my book!
- Woolino Baby Sleeping Bag: Made from soft, hypoallergenic Australian merino wool that’s naturally flame retardant, the Woolino Baby Sleeping Bag is similar to the Merino Kids Baby Sleep Bag. Coming in at a slightly lower price point than the Merino, this is a great option. It’s also machine washable, so that’s a big plus. The only real downside is that this is manufactured in China – but the organic cotton shell is made from GOTS-certified cotton.