sleeping baby

When can babies sleep with blankets?

Some of the cutest baby shower gifts are crib-related, including sheet sets, comforters, hand-stitched quilts and knitted afghans. And since you have these blankets and other sleep accessories waiting in the wings, you may be itching to put them to use in your baby’s crib finally.

But adding a blanket or other soft bedding too soon, whether at night or naptime, can be a danger, so the safest move is to wait until your little one is old enough to handle the blanket transition. Here’s more about blanket risks as well as when you can try one and how to keep your baby warm until you do.

Concerned parents might be tempted to keep Baby warm with a blanket at night. But this could be deadly: having any soft or loose item in an infant’s crib increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Find out more about the connection, and learn when babies can start sleeping with blankets.

Your little one has entered toddlerhood, and both of you have finally started to master the whole sleep thing. You know what your child needs to snooze soundly (most of the time, anyway!), and he’s gotten pretty good (or better, at least) at sleeping through the night.

But just as you’ve gotten the hang of things, the rules start to change. The guidelines for helping your toddler sleep safely are different from the ones you had to follow when he was a baby. The good news is that now that he’s older and no longer at risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the guidelines aren’t as strict as they used to be.

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Is it safe for babies to sleep with blankets?

In short, no, because blankets can be a hazard in the crib. About 3,600 babies in this country die unexpectedly every year while sleeping, and the reasons are often related to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), suffocation, entrapment or strangulation, with blankets increasing the risk of all four.

Because a baby can suffocate under a blanket, the safest sleep environment is a bare crib that’s completely free of comforters, bumpers, pillows, fleece, sheepskin and stuffed toys. The only thing your baby needs at night is a fitted sheet that’s tucked in tightly on all sides.

And don’t be tempted by ads for positioners, wedges, special mattresses or other surfaces that are marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS, as they’ve not been proven to work, could potentially be dangerous and should be avoided.

baby with blanket

When can I introduce a blanket?

There is no official age that’s been deemed 100 per cent safe to use a blanket, quilt or comforter, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Still, most medical experts feel that soft bedding poses little danger in the crib to healthy babies after 12 months of age and ideally when they’re 18 months or older.

So it’s better to hold off on covering your baby with a blanket at night or during her naps until she’s at least 18 months old since she could still become tangled in it when she’s younger. After 18 months, a thin blanket and a small, special lovey can be used and may even become an important part of the tuck-in routine.

Keep in mind that soft bedding is still a no-go even if you plan to place your baby on top of the blanket, rather than under it, since it could still become wrapped around her as she moves in her sleep or gets stuck in the crib corners at night.

When can I put my baby to bed swaddled in a blanket and when is it no longer safe?

Confused by the no-blanket policy since babies are often swaddled in a blanket? Don’t worry — it’s okay to swaddle a newborn at night, and this practice is recommended as a way to calm a cranky baby and promote good sleep.

A properly wrapped swaddle blanket or a swaddle sleep sack can be used safely from birth until about two months of age, as this is when babies often start trying to roll over. But don’t layer another blanket over a swaddled baby, as this loose bedding could cover your baby’s face and increase the risk of suffocation.

How do I keep my baby warm without a blanket?

It’s perfectly okay for a baby to sleep without a blanket, so if yours is under 12 to 18 months or you prefer not to use soft bedding when she’s older, you can keep your sweetie cozy by dressing her in a sleep sack or a wearable blanket sleeper. These one-piece outfits come with snaps, a zipper or an elasticized gather at the bottom and are made to cover your little one’s body, but not her head.

Keep in mind, however, that if your house or your baby’s room runs very warm, she may not need this extra layer. The ideal temperature for good sleep is between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit in all seasons. Cranking up the thermostat and/or over-bundling your baby can cause an infant to overheat, which may increase the risk of SIDS.

If you’re wondering how you’ll know whether your baby is warm enough at night, try feeling the nape of her neck. Skin that’s cold to the touch means she needs another layer, and if she feels very warm or is sweating, it means she’s too hot. Your comfort is another good guide as to whether the sleepwear your baby’s sporting is the right weight. If you’re chilly between the sheets, she probably is too.

Baby bedding rules may seem complex at first, but the guidelines are designed with safety in mind. If your child is old enough for a blanket, it’s fine to add one or skip it in favour of a sleep sack. Either way, she’ll be warm and toasty all night long.

What are the safe sleep guidelines and tips for toddlers I need to follow? 

By the time your child is a toddler — defined as aged 1 to 3 years — he’s no longer at risk for SIDS, and many of the rules for safe baby sleep no longer apply. That said, there are still some important things to consider to ensure that your toddler stays safe while he sleeps:

  • Your toddler should move to a bed when he’s tall enough. You should start transitioning to a toddler bed or a twin bed with a side rail when your little one gets to be 35 inches tall, or when the height of the side rail is less than three-quarters of his height. Ideally, you should make the switch when he’s as close to age three as possible. Most children move to a toddler bed any time between 18 months and 3 1/2 years old, though younger toddlers may not be ready for a big bed.
  • Create a safe sleeping space. Make sure your child’s crib or bed is far away from any objects with ties or strings, like window blind pulls, curtains or electrical cords; likewise, watch for items that your toddler might be able to pull into his crib or bed, like picture frames, mobiles or other hazards. The good news: Blankets, pillows and stuffed animals no longer pose the risk that they did when your child was a baby. Now, it’s fine for your toddler to sleep with a thin blanket and a small pillow — but make sure the pillow isn’t big enough for him to use as a makeshift step stool to climb out of his crib. And it’s still a good idea to steer clear of big stuffed animals or soft toys. 
  • Take steps to protect crib climbers. Toddlers love moving around and exploring their environment — which can mean trying to climb out of their cribs. If your child is still in a crib, keep his crib mattress on the lowest setting to make it harder for him to get out. And avoid putting anything in the crib that your child could step on to help climb out, like stuffed toys or crib bumpers. Even with these precautions in place, your toddler might still be able to climb out of his crib anyway. If that’s the case, and he’s doing it frequently, it’s probably time to move him into a toddler bed or a twin bed with a side rail.  
  • Let your toddler sleep in a position that’s comfortable for him. After his first birthday, you no longer have to put your child to sleep on his back. He’s old enough to sleep safely on his back, stomach or side — so let him stick with whatever position he picks.  

Does my toddler need to sleep on his back?

Not if he doesn’t want to. After your child’s first birthday, stomach sleeping no longer poses a suffocation risk. So you can let your toddler fall asleep on his back, stomach or side.  

We have the best range of baby nursery blankets to keep your baby just right day and night. 

When can my toddler have a blanket in bed?

Once your child reaches 18 months, it’s fine for him to sleep with a thin blanket or lovey. But if he’s in a crib, make sure the blanket and stuffed animal are small enough so that he can’t use them to climb over the side. 

When can my toddler have a pillow in bed?

Your toddler can start sleeping with a pillow when he starts sleeping with a blanket — at age 18 months or later. But remember, it’s a good idea to keep big stuffed animals or other stuffed toys out — they can still pose a suffocation hazard and can be used to climb out of the crib if he’s still in one.

Are bumpers and stuffed animals okay for my toddler?

Bumpers don’t pose a suffocation or strangulation risk to toddlers as they do for babies. But it’s still a good idea to avoid them since your toddler could use them as a step to help him climb out of his crib.

As for stuffed animals? Small ones are fine if your toddler likes having them in his bed or crib. But keep it to just one or two — if your toddler has several, he could potentially stack the toys and use them to climb out of his crib. And avoid oversized toys or ones with ribbons or strings, which could still suffocate or strangle your child.

When should I lower the crib mattress for my toddler, so he doesn’t fall or climb out?

It’s best to lower your child’s crib mattress well before he hits toddlerhood — ideally, once he’s able to sit up on his own (usually between ages 4 and 7 months) or pull himself to a standing position. If your toddler is able to climb out of his crib even with the mattress at the lowest setting, it’s time to move him to a toddler bed or a twin bed with a side rail. 

When is it time to move my child out of the crib and into a toddler bed?

When you decide to make the switch depends on what seems right for him. Most toddlers make the switch between 18 months and 3 1/2 years old, but it’s best to wait until as close to age three as possible just because that’s when children are generally truly ready. If he seems happy in his crib and isn’t frequently trying to climb out, it’s perfectly safe for your child to keep sleeping there until he’s 35 inches tall. At that point, it’s time to move him into a bed.

Are mobiles over the crib safe?

No. Mobiles can easily entangle or strangle toddlers, who are old enough to stand up and grab them. Experts recommend removing crib mobiles by the time a baby is around four months old. If your toddler still has a mobile hanging over his crib, you should take it down right away.

Can I co-sleep with my toddler?

If you’ve been sleeping in your child’s room since he was a baby, there’s no reason you have to stop. Still, you may want to read up on the pros and cons of co-sleeping (which can refer to either room-sharing or bed-sharing, or a combination of both). If you and your little one have been sharing a bed or want to start now, talk to your pediatrician. Though bed-sharing no longer poses the same SIDS risk it does for babies, it may not be the healthiest sleeping arrangement for your toddler and your family; your doctor should be able to help.

Is my toddler at risk of SIDS?

No. Babies and toddlers over the age of 1 are not at risk for SIDS. 

As your sweet baby grows into a toddler, sleeping becomes safer, and the guidelines start to relax as a result. So rest easy! By now, you’ve more than earned it.

According to this study, about fifty-five per cent of babies in America sleep with unsafe bedding.

As a new parent or caregiver, you’ve likely accumulated a mountain of snuggly blankets and adorable stuffed animals. It’s almost impossible to resist the urge to dress up your baby’s crib with all things soft and furry!

The time will come when you can load up the crib with blankets and pillows. But for now, you need to be very careful.

One primary contributing factors to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is soft and fluffy bedding. Studies have shown that soft bedding can increase the risk of SIDS by 2-3 times.

Babies are at the highest risk of SIDS between 2 months and four months. The risk of SIDS goes steadily down after four months until 12 months when the risk of SIDS becomes negligible. A number of different contributing factors brings on SIDS. Some of these factors are genetic and out of your control. Others are environmental and within your control. 

At 12 months, healthy babies are able to maneuver fairly well in the crib and are able to re-adjust if a blanket or a stuffed animal is restricting breathing. Any younger, and it’s easy for a baby to roll onto a soft blanket, which can block their airway. When our bodies are presented with a lack of oxygen, our natural response is to wake up and adjust. If a baby is unable to rouse and adjust due to blankets or other objects in their crib, SIDS becomes a risk. 

Refrain from tucking blankets and stuffed animals into your young baby’s crib until they reach 12 months of age, and this will lower your baby’s risk of SIDS.

When Can Baby Sleep with a Blanket?

You can use a receiving blanket to swaddle your baby right away. But because of the risk of SIDS, you shouldn’t use any soft objects or loose bedding while he’s sleeping until he’s at least one year old. At this time, your baby’s motor skills are sharp enough to be able to roll over and push objects away from his face if they’re affecting his breathing.

Coincidentally, a year is about the time that many babies start getting super-attached to certain “blankies,” which may help them cope with separation anxiety from saying good-bye or goodnight to you.

Are you worried that your little one will be chilly without a blanket? Use pyjamas with feet or a sleep sack on cold nights. These wearable items won’t cover your little one’s face and risk suffocation. 

But won’t she be cold?

It’s completely normal to worry that without a cozy blanket, babies will get chilly at night and won’t get the sleep that they need, but infants can get the proper level of warmth from what they wear to bed alone. Keep your little one’s room at a comfortable temperature (around 70 to 72 degrees) and dress him in no more than one extra layer than you would wear. Soft fabrics that breathe, such as cotton, work well and should fit your child snugly. Footie pyjamas, swaddles, and sleep sacks are popular choices. Then check in on your tot now and then to make sure that he isn’t getting too hot or cold. Your baby may be too warm if his chest feels hot, his face is red, he’s breathing quickly, and/or he’s sweating. If your baby’s chest feels cool, he may be too chilly.

My Baby Nursery has a wide range of baby cot nursery blankets to choose from. 

So when is it okay to let my baby snuggle up with a blanket?

After your tot’s first birthday, feel free to place the blankie that Grammy knitted or a favourite teddy in the crib. At this age, most babies have the strength and dexterity to roll over and move blankets away from their face if needs be, which reduces the risk of SIDS dramatically. But talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about whether or not your baby is developmentally ready.

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