Nested Bean Sleep Sack vs Baby Merlin: An Honest Nested Bean Sleep Sack Review

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Aaah, the joys of the newborn stage.

  • The incredible cuddliness
  • The irresistible smell
  • The heart-tugging noises they randomly make

Oh. And the sleepless nights.

The thing is, I never went into parenting thinking it was going to be a breeze and I definitely knew that limited (or in my case VERY LIMITED) sleep was just part of the gig. But that doesn’t mean that I would complain if I could squeeze even a few extra minutes of zzzs into a night for us all.

Now, before I go any further on my Nested Bean Sleep sack review, you need to know that for the good chunk of the first year of my baby’s lives I’m an attachment parenter. Yup. One of those hippies. I co-sleep (safely) with my babies. I breastfeed on demand and yes, I believe in the “just put some breastmilk” on just about any ailment.

Which means that I also don’t sleep train until I feel my baby is ready for it.

So, with all that being said, remember that going into this Zen Sleepsack review and know that if you do sleep training, have your babe in his/her own room at night, etc that maybe (MAYBE??) you might have different results. I really don’t know??

Nested Bean ProductImageSizes AvailableGet It On Amazon
Zen Sleep Sack "Classic"Small (3-6 months/ 7-18 pounds)
Medium (6-15 months/ 16-26 pounds)
Large (15-24 months/ 26-36 pounds)
See It Here
Zen Sack "Winter"Small (3-6 months/ 7-18 pounds)
Medium (6-15 months/ 16-26 pounds)
Large (15-24 months/ 26-36 pounds)
See Sizes Here
Zen Sack "Premiere"Small (3-6 months/ 7-18 pounds)
Medium (6-15 months/ 16-26 pounds)
Large (15-24 months/ 26-36 pounds)
See Different Patterns Here
Nested Bean Onesie BodysuitSmall (3-6 month)
Medium (6-12 month)
Get A Two Pack Here
Nested Bean PajamasSmall (3-6 months/11-15 pounds)
Medium (6-12 months/15-22 pounds)
Click Here To View
Nested Bean Swaddle0-6 MonthsSee All 14 Color Options Here

And if you are sitting here wondering why the heck a review of a sleepsuit is on a local travel blog, keep reading.

(Hint: We travel A LOT.  Getting babies to sleep in various locations is hard, so I’ll take all the help I can get, including sleepsuits!)

My Situation

So, raise your hand if you’ve been here.

My first, Lil B, and my second, Mr J, both started off with extremely similar sleep patterns as newborns. They both woke almost every 2 hours on the dot for milk and then we’d get 2 more hours of sleep.

Rinse and repeat.

Even just a few months of this and Mama. Is. Tired!!! Nay. Exhausted.

With Lil B, I discovered the Baby Merlin Magic Sleepsuit around 3 months and gave it a try.  I WAS HOOKED! I wasn’t only hooked, I was obsessed.  I would tell every new parent to go buy one.  Did Lil B suddenly start sleeping through the night? No. So why did I love it? Well, you can read all about that in my Baby Merlin Magic Sleepsuit Review here.

So, at three months, which is the age to start the Merlin sleepsuit, I confidently bundled up Mr. J and eagerly waited for easier sleeping.

And then I waited.

And waited.

Not only did the Magic Sleepsuit not have the same effects on Mr. J, but he downright didn’t seem to like it. He had outgrown his newborn baby swaddle blankets, desperately wanted to suck his thumb and just couldn’t figure it all out in the sleep suit.  He also started rolling and was determined to sleep on his stomach. The makers of the sleepsuit say once they can roll, you should transition them out.

CRAP!!!

At 6 months, Mr. J was STILL waking up every two hours to breastfeed. Combine this with the three year old waking several times throughout the night himself (which we later discovered he has a weird case of childhood restless leg syndrome) and I am barely hanging on by a thread. There isn’t enough coffee in the world to help me feel energized.

And then I started seeing all these ads for the Nested Bean Sleep Sack.

I was desperate. And tired.

Did I mention I was really, really tired???

The Nested Bean Zen Sleepsack Overview: What is it?

An Honest Review Of The Nested Bean Sleep sack

 

^Save It To Your Baby Pinterest Board!^

The Nested Bean Zen sack is like an adorable baby sleeping bag that are also sleep sacks. The baby sack zips up the side ( more on that below) and buttons together on the shoulders.

Sounds like just any other infant sleep sack, right?  Here’s where it’s different (and where it pulled me in to use!)

The Zen Sack is actually a weighted sleep sack!!! I can’t tell you how many hours I have let my arm go numb from having it draped over the side of the crib or bassinet as I gently lay my hand on my baby’s stomach.  There is just something instantaneously calming about that hand’s minimal pressure that those baby’s love!  So much so that if I try to be sneaky and move away when I SWEAR they are asleep, they immediately sense it and wake up!  So, the Nested Bean sack basically mimics this same feeling with this little weight on the chest area.

And then here’s the best part. Nested Bean says that in 1-3 nights your baby will sleep better. YES. PLEASE!!!!

My First Three Nights

I couldn’t even wait for bedtime. I ripped open my boxes (I got three because I remembered with my Magic Merlin how panicked I’d get if my ONE suit got soiled and there was an upcoming nap!) I put him into the absolutely adorable cloud patterned swaddle sleep sack and did our usual sleep routine.

And got my usual results.

Zen Sleep Sack Tummy Sleeper

Ok, no big deal. It said 1-3 nights, I still had all three nights to see improvement.  Night three comes and guess what!?

No change. (You thought I was going to say he was sleeping through the night, didn’t you? Yeeeah, I wished!) Ok, ok. No big deal, let’s just keep trying this thing out!  But alas, the third night (and fourth, fifth, sixth….) came and went and my baby’s sleep had not miraculously improved.  Wah. Wah.

Several Months Of Using The Zen Sack

Two months into using the weighted wearable blanket, I was lucky if we could go a three hour stretch at night (ok, I guess you COULD say that is an improvement from 2 hours. But nothing magical to say the least).  With some upcoming work trips that were taking me out of town, we decided for the sanity of everyone involved, some gentle sleep training was needed.

My overjoyed, newborn Mama heart and deliriously tired body wanted to love the Zen sack with all my heart and soul. But, it just didn’t seem to be doing the trick for me, like it seemed to be doing for countless other parents.

PLOT TWIST

I got my three sleep sacks over 5 months ago. My baby is now 10 months old. He still is not sleeping through the night.  But I still use those three Zen sacks at every.single.sleeptime. NO EXCEPTIONS.

They have traveled to Germany with us, camping all summer, and they are in my suitcase for our upcoming Thailand trip. If you live in a warm climate or are just looking for the best sleep sack for summer, consider the “Premiere” bamboo material.

Shoot, I kind of wish I myself had a blanket in that material!

Click Here To See The Bamboo Sleepsack

But why?? Why the heck would I still be using something that “doesn’t really work?” Let me tell you.

Routine

If you read my Magic Merlin review, you’ll notice that I am a nut for routine and predictability when it comes to sleep. Why? Because the more routines, the more sleep cues we create.

Our routine is:

  1. Bath (nightly)
  2. Say Goodnight to things along the way to the bedroom (Goodnight hallway. Goodnight Door. Goodnight laundry room….”
  3. Diapered/ Jammies/ Sleepsuit on
  4. Read 2-3 books
  5. Nurse until drowsy (but NOT asleep)
  6. Sing Twinkle Twinkle
  7. Lay baby down drowsy but awake. Say Goodnight and love you
  8. Walk out.

Sleep Cues

What is a sleep cue? It’s just a simple thing to indicate to a baby “Hey, it’s time to sleep, little one!” The above routine is all individual sleep cues piled onto one another and the more you do them in the exact same order and night after night, the more your baby realizes that “Hey, I’m taking a bath…bedtime must be around the corner!” or “Hmmm, I’m getting my sleepsuit on, I bet I’ll be going to bed here soon.” (Ok ok, maybe not in those well-formed sentences, but you get the point).

Travel

Why am I such a stickler for routine and sleep cues (especially if I am a self-proclaimed attachment parenter)? Because we travel. A lot. (If you can’t tell by this travel-themed blog!) And when we travel, there is enough stuff that is strange and unknown to a curious baby that having routines and sleep cues can be HUGE in unfamiliar rooms and locations.

Anyone who has stayed overnight in a hotel room with their kids knows how hard it can be to get their little ones down. But, by having such strong sleep cues (such as a sleep suit), they know exactly what to expect, which makes bedtime SO much easier.

With that being said, I did notice that GOING to sleep got a bit easier for us since using the Nested Bean Sack.  I no longer had to stay in the room for sometimes over an hour to get him to sleep.  Instead, the above routine started to work out really well.  Which, for travel purposes, getting a baby to GO to sleep is sometimes half the battle!

It’s Like a Wearable Baby Blanket

baby wearable blanket

When we first started using the sack, it was like a baby zip up blanket! It was December, and I got one of the cotton sacks, which I then just called my “winter sleep sack.”  It’s not SUPER thick, but still slightly warmer than the “Premiere” bamboo sack.

Click Here To View The Classic Cotton Zen Sack

Since Mr. J was under a year, he obviously shouldn’t have blankets in the crib for SIDS reasons. I loved that this was a way for him to get an extra layer on safely so he can stay warm…

But Not Too Hot

Which brings me now to the squelching hot summers in Nebraska. (Can someone say humidity??)  My other two Zen sacks are the lighter, more breathable materials (One is a lighter cotton and one is a thicker one).  The premiere bamboo one almost feels like a muslin sleep sack, as they are so luxuriously soft and smooth.  So, I naturally then call this my “summer sleep sack” (Real creative right!?)

Both the cotton and the bamboo are incredibly breathable and lightweight, but I really do love that Mr. J can still have the sleep cue of the suit in the summer with the bamboo and NOT burn up!

He Can Roll

When I saw that he could roll in this safely, I knew I had to give these a try. And like I mentioned earlier, he can do as many alligator rolls as he wants and the fabric somehow never gets rolled up or tangled up.

Since the baby’s arms are free in the Zen Sleep Sack, it is safe for them to roll (independently) because he can use his arms to push his head up if he needs to.

You Can Flip The Weighted Baby Sleep Sack! (AKA They Can Be Tummy Sleepers With This!)

This just might be my second favorite feature of the sleep sack. The weighted baby sleeper sack is reversable! (meaning you can wear the bean on the chest or the back!) – Pretty genius!  As soon as Mr. J started rolling, he knew he wanted to be a tummy sleeper and no amount of SIDS protection could stop him from doing it. So, I REALLY liked that I could put the weighted “bean” on “backward” so that it was on his back, so he still got that “hand like” feeling on his back.

(Note: Obviously, if your baby can’t roll independently, please don’t ever lay them down on their tummy)

It Can Be Used As A Swaddle Sleep Sack

I mentioned above the medium and the large sizes but there are actually quite a few options for newborns, too. There is an actual newborn swaddle sack (Different from the Zen Sleep Sack).  However, I’ve actually seen a lot of photos of parents using the 0-6 small size more like a baby swaddle sack or even a newborn sleeping bag.  They gently cross the baby’s arms on their chest (like a typical blanket swaddle) and then zip up the sides and button the top. So, essentially, their arms just aren’t out the arm holes.  Since I got mine after he was done with wanting to be swaddled, I can’t comment on if this worked as well as an actual swaddle blanket, but hey, it’s a pretty genius idea!

Versatility

To sum up most of the above, I actually really liked the Zen sack for the versatility it offers. There aren’t a ton of baby products that you can use for extended periods of time (they just grow so darn fast! STOP growing up babies!!) or they are a one function product.

I like how if this one does work magic for you, that it has so many great versatile features to really make it worth the investment.

The Size(s)!!!

Nested Bean Zen Sleep Sack

Ok….This right here folks. While this is on the middle of my “Pros” list, it’s easily at the top of the reasons why we are still using these sacks.  The Magic Merlin sleepsuit was done by about 6 months. It was no longer (even the company says this) safe for babies who could roll. It really is a bummer to pay for a baby product only to use it for a really short period of time.  When I first pulled out the sleep sacks (I got the 6-15 month size- basically a Medium) I thought they were huge, long and that he would get all tangled in them. But he really didn’t.

I LOVE that he’s nowhere near outgrowing these things, which means months and months (shoot, well over a year!) of use!

Newborn Sleep Sack

There is also a small size (0-6 month), which I’ll talk about a few points down under the “Sleep Sack Swaddle” section

Sleep Sack For 6 Month Old Transitioning Out of Swaddle and Sleepsuits

One of my favorite parts about the Magic Merlin suit was that it was a transition out of a swaddle. I felt like the 6 month Zen sleep sack (which should last us well into at least a year and a half) is then a great transition from a sleep suit.

They Can Be Toddler Sleep Sacks As Wearable Blankets For Winters

Which basically brings me back to it being a baby wearable blanket for winter since it is such a large sleep sack (perfect for toddlers, too) when I still won’t feel comfortable with him having a blanket, even though he’ll be over a year by next winter. I love that this provides that sleep cue and the warmth of a blanket for colder months!!!

There is a bigger size (15-24 months) that would be the perfect toddler sleep sack.

Shoot, I am actually kind of thinking about getting the large one for camping in our pop up to use as basically a baby sleeping bag.

Click Here To See The Size Large Zen Sleep Sack for Toddlers

Different Products

Nested Bean also has some other products like actual jammies with the weighted bean. I originally really wanted one of these, but for the price, I was nervous about outgrowing it so fast.  At least with the sacks, there is plenty of room to grow and almost guaranteed extended use.

As mentioned earlier, there is also the newborn swaddle and there is even a onesie bodysuit….all with the signature “weight bean.”

Great Customer Service and “Sleep Help”

I will say this, when I wasn’t having a sleeping baby through the night, I reached out and asked if they had any tips. They were really quick to respond and sent me a few resources. Granted, it was all stuff I had already been implementing and already knew, but I will admit that it was nice that the company was taking a look at the whole picture rather than just saying “Well, our product should have worked!”

My Biggest Complaints

My Baby Is Not Sleeping Through The Night

First, let me start that I am a firm believer that not all babies need to sleep all night. Do I wish mine would? Oh so very much yes!!! But, I am also not going to force it upon him (Disclaimer: That is NOT mom-shaming for anyone who sleep trains, does CIO, etc. You do you Mama! I’ll do me. And then let’s get together for coffee in the morning because we both still probably need it, K??)

BUT, I really had high hopes here. I obviously am still using them though for various reasons, so I can’t completely throw the baby out with the bathwater (or, in this case, the sleepsuit).

In fact, I am writing this post right now while Mr. J is napping. And what is he wearing? Yup. That giraffe Zen sleep sack.

It Doesn’t Have Sleeves

I REEEAAAALLLY wish that the sleepsuit had sleeves.  I mean, I get that then the whole “baby growing out of it fast” thing would apply, but there are times that sleeves would help ensure a warm and cozy babe.
I guess I can’t have my cake and eat it too, hu?

The Bean Isn’t Removeable

Strange request, right?  And I’m sure there would be some safe sleep issues here.  BUT, when I first got my sleepsuits, Mr. J was always put down in the crib on his back, per safe sleeping instructions.

But, some nights he would stay sleeping on his back, others he would end up on his tummy.  So, I always started with the bean on his chest but then many nights, it didn’t do any good, as the weight wasn’t where it should be.

It wasn’t until he consistently turned into a tummy sleeper that I decided it was ok to put the bean on his back.

Nested Bean FAQ

FAQ

What is the Nested Bean Sack Made From?

You know those little “poly-beads” that beanie babies are made from? It’s the same kind of nontoxic beads that fill the “bean.” It’s important to get the correct size because the weight may range from 1-5 ounces, depending on the size of the product (more on this below).

Are sleep sacks safe for babies who roll over?

I can’t say if a baby rolling over in a sleep sack is safe for ALL sleepsacks, but after talking directly to the Nested Bean company, I was assured that their’s were. The sleepsack is really light and I was surprised at how well it moved with Mr. J. As for the bean, I was wondering if it would be uncomfortable if I put it on his back and then he rolled over onto it. However, the beans are flexible and almost flatten under the baby so that it doesn’t feel like laying on a bulge.

Can Tummy Sleepers Wear the Zen Sleepsack? Side Sleepers?

Yup! In fact, once my babe figured out how to roll independently, he only wanted to sleep on his tummy. He now is also a side sleeper. Because they have their arms completely free, the sleepsack is still safe for those rolley-pollies! Just put the suit on backwards  so that the weight is on the back, and you are good to go.

If My Baby Can Stand in The Crib, Can S/He Use the Sleepsack?

Surprisingly, yes! Again, the sack part of the sleepsack is really roomy. I would imagine it would be pretty difficult for your tyke to walk in it (imagine trying to walk in a sleeping bag), but according to Nested Bean, it is still safe for standing babies.

What is Some Sleep Sack Safety

Alright, while we are at it, let’s just cover some of the basic sleep sack safety. Most of this is going to be stuff you already know from safe sleeping anyway, but it’s often a question that comes up when adding a sleepsuit into the routine.

  • As with any safe sleep, always put your baby down on their back. Even if they can roll, lay them on their back and they will roll if they can/want
  • Ensure that all garments will not become loose and undone in the crib
  • Make sure that you are using the proper size for your baby’s weight (not just age!)
  • Do not use sleepsacks or swaddles that are too small
  • Do not use sleepsuits that have any broken pieces (ie: a botton that has popped off)
  • Ensure that all sleepsuits are zipped all the way and buttoned securely so that no fabric can come loose during sleep
  • Make sure that baby is not too hot and not too cold (more on this below)
  • Always check to make sure that the weighted bean sack has not broken somehow. You do not want loose beans that your baby could put into their mouths.
  • If you are using the swaddle, once your baby can roll, they need to be transitioned to a sleep sack and should no longer be using a swaddle
  • If taking the sleepsuit out of the dryer before sleep, ensure that it is not too hot

What if my baby doesn’t like a sleep sack?

I’m no sleep expert, so this is purely going off of personal experience. It seems like you may have a few choices:

  1. Ease into it: Maybe don’t do all night and instead just start with naps. Hopefully this will help your little one get used to the sleep sack
  2. Admit defeat: Just kidding…sort of. Not that I can take my own advice, but sometimes kids just don’t like the things that we as parents swear they should! As frustrating as this is, if you’ve tried and tried a sleep suit and it’s not working, then either maybe another brand would work better, or you just need to accept that one day…EVENTUALLY…..you’ll sleep again (let me know when that will happen, as I’m still waiting!!)
  3. Look into Nested Bean’s Weighted Pajamas: I actually was going to get these first since they had arms and I was originally concerned about getting tangled in the long dress-like sleepsuit.  I just didn’t want Mr. J to outgrow the pajamas quickly, making them possibly the most expensive PJs ever! I mean, I’m not even joking when I say that sometimes I get him out of his crib in the morning and literally say, “Did you grow overnight!?”  HOWEVER, if you are desperate, I would say it is worth at least a consideration, for everyone’s sleep sanity. There is a Zen Bodysuit (long sleeved onesie) and Zen Footed PJs

Is the Nested Bean Sleepsuit Washable?

Thank God, YES!!! Mr. J is really talented at leaking through his diapers at night (probably due to the fact that he is eating every few hours!)
You can toss your sleepsuit in the washing machine on gentle and cold and then put in the dryer on a tumble dry with low heat. I REALLY liked this, because my Magic Merlin, while machine washable and dryable, it was highly recommended to line dry. Even in the dryer on low, it would take a reeeaaally long time to dry.

I like that the Nested Bean dries much faster….perfect for nights with accidents!

What is the “Grow With Me” Feature?

Nested Bean Grow With Me

There are two little snaps at the top of the shoulders. Honestly, I would say it doesn’t give THAT much extra grow size, but that’s what it is marketed for.

Why is the Large Size Not Recommended for Babies Under 26 Pounds?

I can’t tell you an exact reason, but my hypothesis is that it has to do with

  1. SIDS safety. Just like you do not want a loose blanket in the crib, you probably do not want too much material with the sack either.
  2. Weight of the Bean. Different sizes have different weights in the bean. The whole point of this weight is to mimic the slight pressure of your hand on your baby, providing a soothing and almost “therapeutic” effect which should help relieve stress and “induce calm.”
    To get a bit scientific on you, Nested Bean says that the ideal weight of the bean should be about 10% of the baby’s body weight in order to achieve these effects. Therefore, by getting the size large, if your baby is not 26 pounds, then the ratio will be off, meaning you may not see the ideal effects.  However, it’s pretty easy to assume that the gentle pressure I put on Mr. J’s chest may be slightly different than the way my husband does it. Sooo….you make the decision that works best for you when deciding the size 🙂

When Should I Use the Swaddle and When Should I Use the Sleepsack

This is all a personal preference. For me, I use a swaddle until about 3 months. At three months, I used my Magic Merlin Suit (Nested Bean does have 3 month sack options), and at 6 months I used the Nested Bean Sleepsack (and still using at almost 11 months).

As noted from above, if your baby can roll, s/he should no longer be in either a swaddle OR a sleepsuit, making a sleepsack the ideal choice by that point.

Can My 2 Month Old Use the 3 Month Old Sleepsuit?

Yes. The sizes are general guidelines and you should go more based off of weight rather than just age.

How Do You Put the Baby In the Sleepsuit? How Far Up Does it Zip?

Before bed, I lay out the sleepsuit on the bed. I leave both of the shoulders buttoned and the zipper unzipped until about the bottom (probably would be even easier unzipped completely).

In the winter, Mr. J goes in a fleece sleeper and in the summer, just a onesie and then I lay him in the sleepsuit (I use the bean on his back- so the sleepsuit is actually “backward” towards me).

I quickly button up both shoulders, zip up the zipper all the way to the armpit (as far as it will go) and tuck it under the fabric that prevents it from rubbing.  Done and Done!

Should I Be Concerned Of Overheating?

The fabric of the sleepsacks are not thick enough that the sacks alone would cause overheating.

In the winter, it is sometimes hard to know exactly how many layers to put on your baby.  The typical “rule” is one more layer than yourself.

One of my favorite ways to tell if my baby is too warm or cold is to gently slide my hand down the back of their necks. If it feels warm, there are too many layers. If it feels cold, we need more.

Is The Material Light Enough to Wear In the Summer?

The “Premiere” sack is made of a really breathable bamboo, which has even been perfect for our hot sweltering Nebraska summer. If I feel like it is particularly hot, I’ll even leave him in just a diaper with the sleepsack. Otherwise, with a onesie, he is quite comfortable.

Is the Material Warm Enough to Wear in The Winter?

The cotton material is not super thick, but still warmer than the Bamboo material option and then there is even a “winter” option which is slightly warmer than the “classic.” If your baby is used to a warm fleece sleepsack, this will not be AS warm. We keep our house pretty chilly in the winter (68ish) and with a thick fleece pajama set he was just fine. If you are worried, you can always put a onesie on underneath the fleece as well (just check for overheating by that point).

*Remember, babies aren’t fantastic at regulating their temps and just feeling hands and noses aren’t a great indicator of how warm or cold they really are. (see above tip on feeling their neck)

Is There a Return Policy?

You can return your sleepsuit within 60 days of purchase- no questions asked.
If you’ve used and worn it, you’ll need to wash it properly in order to receive a refund.
You will have to pay for shipping to return the product.

Should I Get the Nested Ben Sleepsack?

Hmmm. I REALLY wish I could answer this better for you, but I also wanted to give you a fully honest Nested Ben Sleepsack review!
I wish my baby had gone miraculously from 3 hours of sleep at a time to a full 8 hour night’s worth of sleep. But, alas, we didn’t.
Based off of that alone, then I would say it wasn’t the miracle worker that so many other parents have found.

But with that being said, I still use the Zen sleepsack daily and for every single sleep, so I clearly think that it’s worth having.
Even in the summer with the AC on, I like having a wearable blanket that is safe. I like the routine of having a sleepsuit. I REALLY like the sleep cue that it provides my baby!!

I have no intention of stopping the use of the sleepsack until we have outgrown it.

So, if you decide to buy a Nested Bean Sleepsack, I hope you are one of those parents that can write back in the comments, “OMG!!! I GOT A FULL NIGHT’S SLEEP FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE MY BABY WAS BORN!!!” and that you get all that fantastic sleep ju-ju in addition to all the reasons why I still use mine.

Good luck and keep me posted!!!!

I was provided with three sleepsacks in exchange for my honest review of the products.  All opinions are my own.

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