when can my baby sleep with a blanket (3)

When Can My Baby Sleep With A Blanket?

Pediatrics advises that it is not safe for a baby to sleep with a blanket while they are less than a year old. SIDS most frequently affects babies between birth and six months, but deaths may still occur in infants up to 12 months.

While it's natural to want your baby's crib to feel as cozy as your bed, blankets, pillows, and furry friends aren’t recommended for infants to sleep with.

Keep all types of soft bedding—blankets, pillows, bumper pads, and stuffed animals—out of the crib until at least 12 months. You should use your baby’s gestational age as a determinant, not their birth age. (That means premature babies should wait longer for bedding.)

Infants don't need blankets. Here’s what else you need to know about when it’s safe for a baby to go to bed with a blanket—so you don’t have to lose sleep.

Experts recommend against soft bedding for infants up to 6 months of age due to the correlation between crib dressings and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), a diagnosis in which all probable causes have been eliminated.

They also recommend against bedding for babies between 6 and 12 months since they are known to cause accidental suffocation, entrapment, or strangulation. In addition to SIDS, these are all types of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID), also known as sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI).

Forgoing typical blankets isn’t the only way to keep your child safe from SIDS. AAP also suggests putting infants down on a firm surface on their back in your bedroom but not in your bed, breastfeeding, routine immunisations, a pacifier, and avoiding overheating, smoke, alcohol, and illicit drugs.

After 12 months, the risks [of SIDS] decrease dramatically, but large, thick, or quilted blankets can still pose a risk, especially if a baby was born prematurely. By 18 months, a small, lightweight blanket will be fine for most babies, but between 12 and 18 months, parents should use their discretion or consult with their child's pediatrician.

The AAP recommends infant sleep clothing instead, such as a wearable blanket, to keep your child cozy while reducing the risk of entrapment from using a blanket.

After 18 months, if your child can untangle themself when wrapped in a loose blanket and push away blankets or stuffed animals from their face, and your pediatrician signs off, a small, lightweight blanket can be used for most babies. Make sure your child is fully mobile—i.e. They can roll both ways, sit up, and stand up—which usually wouldn’t happen before they are one year old, Dr.

When transitioning to a blanket, start with a small, thin, breathable muslin blanket and avoid quilts, weighted blankets, or blankets with strings, ties, or ribbons.

Even a sheet lying over a baby's face can cause suffocation, so start with something simple instead of multiple layers like in an adult bed. Because toddlers will often have an opinion about the blanket's colour and feel, just like we do as adults, let them be part of the blanket-choosing process.

Baby Nursery FAQs

You may be tempted to offer your baby a soft, warm blanket to help comfort them at night. However, blankets are not recommended until your baby reaches at least 12 months old because they can increase the risk of accidental suffocation.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends keeping soft objects and loose bedding out of the sleeping area for at least 12 months. This recommendation is based on data around infant sleep deaths and guidelines for reducing the risk of SIDS.

Instead of adding blankets, add a layer of clothing. For example, you may want to consider whether your baby may benefit from wearing a vest under their baby-grow or pyjamas. You may prefer to put your baby in a baby-grow/onesie with feet when it is cold but without at warmer times of the year.

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.

Why Parents Want Their Baby to Have a Blanket

If you ask about the benefits of blankets for babies, she’ll tell you there are none. The wearable blankets or sleep sacks are safe and provide adequate warmth, even in the cold climates. 

While the expert consensus is to avoid blankets till your baby is one year old, parents often still feel the urge to wrap their little one in that baby blanket from grandma. (Make sure you don't!) Here are a few reasons why.

Blankets Can Be Cozy

Among adults, there’s nothing less appealing than a mattress with no covers. New parents who have received blankets, afghans, or quilts as baby gifts may be anxious to cozy up to their child’s crib, all with good intentions. 

As parents, we often have preset ideas of how things should be—we have a sheet, blankets, comforter, etc., on our beds, so that is what a bed should be. 

However, many toddlers are super active in their sleep, and a blanket ends up being an annoyance since they often come off or lump up.

Know that your baby will be fine—and safer—without a blanket, so long as you put them to bed in the appropriate sleepwear to keep them warm (but not too warm).

Blankets Have Sentimental Value

Say you received a special quilt from a beloved family member or a beautiful afghan from a friend—it’s no wonder you want to display it on or around the crib, pronto. Often, these are handmade and made with love. Parents may want to envelop their baby in a blanket that has sentimental meaning—before considering the risks of SUID.

If you’re anxious to use a particular blanket, consider hanging it on the wall, draping it over a glider or rocking chair, or spreading it out on the floor during your baby’s tummy time. 

It Can Provide Comfort and Security

If your child’s blanket turns into a comfort object or a “lovey,” it can be a helpful sleep association or cue that it’s time to sleep, says Becker Friedman. “Attachment to a blanket of love can be one of the first steps in helping a child develop a sense of independence,” she says.

Another pro? Your child may come to snuggle with their lover to fall asleep or get back to bed instead of calling for you. You can certainly work on attachment to a lovey before that first birthday but wait until at least 12 months before placing it in the crib.

Risks of Baby Sleeping with a Blanket Too Soon 

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There are many risks to your baby sleeping with a blanket too early. Here are some of the most common.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

The scariest thing about SIDS is that there is no known cause—just a bunch of correlations between behaviours and adverse outcomes. It’s why it’s best to sidestep any known behaviours with a connection to SIDS, including using a blanket in the crib prematurely, according to the AAP.

Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID)

SUID is the sudden and unexpected death of an infant due to natural or unnatural causes. SIDS is one cause of SUID. It indicates there is no known cause of death.

Other scenarios that can lead to SUID include accidental suffocation, entrapment, and strangulation. Because there is a direct correlation between sleep environment and infant death, many causes of SUID are entirely preventable.

Difficulty Sleeping

After your baby turns 12 months old, transitioning to a blanket too soon can make going to bed and staying asleep more challenging. Kids learn to sleep well when they can rely on sustainable sleep associations. 

Whenever you change your child's bedtime routine, sleep environment, or any other condition related to sleep, there could be some protesting.

Luckily, any sleep issues that follow a change like swapping wearable blankets to a regular one should be temporary. As soon as you get through the adjustment period, your good little sleeper will reappear.

And because blankets aren’t critical, it’s perfectly fine to forgo it if it’s impacting your child’s sleep. 

Remember: There is no downside to continuing use of a wearable blanket into toddlerhood—it’s why many parents wait to transition out of sleepsuits until they move their child into a big kid bed.

Wearable blankets are a safer alternative to a loose blanket. Aside from providing a little extra warmth, a wearable blanket can be a very helpful sleep association and deter a determined crib climber from straddling the rails and getting out of the crib.

Overheating

Many people have trouble sleeping when it's too hot—and babies are no exception. Overheating is one reason kids can have night wakings or early morning wake-ups. It’s also a risk factor for SIDS during the first year of life. It’s why it’s not necessary to use both the wearable blanket your child is used to and a regular blanket for warmth. 

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 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 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. 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.

Safe Sleep Guidelines for Babies

when can my baby sleep with a blanket

In addition to waiting until a baby is one-year-old to introduce sleeping with a blanket, parents can follow other guidelines to promote bedtime safety.

Always Place Your Baby on Their Back to Sleep

Until your baby is 12 months old, you should always place them on their back for naps and night-time sleep. With time, they may begin to roll over on their own during sleep as a part of normal development. Even in this period, make sure to lay your baby on their back to sleep initially.

Put Your Baby to Sleep in a Crib

A crib or something similar, like a bassinet or bedside sleeper, is the safest place for your baby to sleep at night. Other furniture, like couches and chairs, can be very dangerous for infants. 

Even devices made for babies, like car seats, carriers, swings, and strollers, are not recommended for use as regular sleeping locations. If your baby falls asleep on one of these devices, it is best to place them on a firm mattress as soon as possible. Later, as an infant grows older, parents may prefer to introduce a toddler bed.

Use a Firm Mattress That Fits the Crib

Using a firm mattress in your baby’s crib can also reduce the risk of suffocation and keep temperatures down, ensuring a safe and comfortable sleep environment. 

The mattress should not be made of memory foam, which can be too soft or conforming and pose a safety hazard. Also, the firm mattress should fit snugly in the crib, with no space between it and the crib’s walls.

Keep the Crib Free of Objects, Including Bedding

Until your baby reaches 12 months of age, make sure that their crib is free of loose items, such as blankets, pillows, toys, and stuffed animals. These items increase the possibility of accidental suffocation. A pacifier, however, is fine to give to your baby and may even reduce the risk of SIDS.

A fitted sheet that remains snugly on the crib mattress, without the possibility of bunching or coming loose, is recommended. Sometimes parents mistakenly believe that blankets or bedding are okay if placed flat beneath the baby rather than used to cover the baby. 

Aside from a fitted sheet, no bedding should be in the crib as a baby sleeps, regardless of where it is placed.

Do Not Sleep With Your Baby in Your Bed

Bed-sharing, or having your baby sleep in your bed with you, can increase your infant’s likelihood of injury or suffocation. As an alternative, try room-sharing. 

Sleeping in the same room with your baby while placed on a different surface, such as a crib or bassinet, helps minimize these risks while still allowing parents to monitor their baby’s needs. Room-sharing is recommended for a baby’s first 6-12 months of life because it can decrease the risk of SIDS by up to 50%.

Set a Consistent Bedtime Routine

Sleep is a critical factor in early childhood development, and establishing a consistent bedtime routine promotes strong overall sleep health.

Whether you read a book, sing lullabies, cuddle with your child, or bathe them, consistent pre-sleep behaviours can help establish a difference between night and day for babies and prepare them to drift off each night. 

Teaching proper sleep habits early in life and modelling healthy sleep behaviours is also important in creating a positive association with the experience.

Other Ways to Keep Your Baby Safe While They Sleep

Blankets are not the only things to keep in mind as your baby rests. Also, take into consideration the following when you put them down to sleep:

  • Your baby's sleep position. While it's recommended to lay your baby down on their back, once they start rolling independently, they may turn to their stomach or side. If this happens, you don’t have to move them to their back again during the night.
  • A firm sleep surface. Ensure that your baby is never sleeping on a plush surface. When you push your hand down on the surface of your baby’s crib, it should feel flat and firm. Don’t lay them down on a blanket or pillow that may cover their face during sleep.
  • The temperature. You want your baby to be warm but not hot. Make sure that they don't overheat with footie pyjamas and a swaddle if it’s warm outside.
  • Try breastfeeding. When you breastfeed, you provide the exact nutrition your baby needs. If you don’t want your baby to nurse, try pumping and offering a bottle. Your breast milk helps them fight illness and infection, leaving their lungs clear for breathing.
  • Try a pacifier. Babies who use a pacifier at naptime and bedtime have a lower risk of SIDS. Make sure you choose a safe pacifier with a wide enough base not to be a choking hazard.
  • Avoid smoking. Second-hand smoke is the smoke your baby breathes from being around a nearby smoker. Third-hand smoke is the residue left behind on clothes, blankets, and wells. Since your baby’s lungs are highly sensitive, being around a smoker leaves them at a greater risk for SIDS.

Conclusion

While blankets look comfy and inviting, they can also be dangerous in a crib with a baby. Before adding anything to your child’s sleeping space, it’s important to consider whether or not it’s safe.

If you’re wondering whether your child is ready for a pillow or blanket, remember the AAP’s recommendations, consider how mobile your baby is, and chat with their doctor at their next appointment.

As the person putting your child to sleep every night, you’re the one ensuring that they are safe and need to feel comfortable with your decision about using a blanket. The decision ultimately is yours to make!

 

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