When Can My Baby Sleep With a Blanket?
As parents, so much of our energy is spent helping our babies sleep. Creating bedtime routines, rocking them until their little eyes close, carefully laying them down and praying all of your effort earns you a few minutes to rest. But even when they’re sleeping we worry about their safety–and usually spend their entire nap checking on them to make sure they are okay. I have for sure snuck into the nursery many times to make sure my baby was actually breathing!
Even over the course of our six children, the rules about baby sleep have changed. For our first baby, we were encouraged to get crib bumpers to help avoid her little limbs from getting stuck between the slats of the crib. By our third, crib bumpers were considered dangerous and to be avoided. Current guidelines suggest the safest sleep environment is one that is completely free of blankets, stuffed toys, and crib bumpers.
Why are these seemingly cozy baby items so dangerous? Well, one of the most frightening things as a parent is the possibility that your baby will die in their sleep without real explanation. This type of death is called Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (or SIDS) and unfortunately is pretty common. I couldn’t find a consistent number, but reports of death by SIDS are between 2500-4500 per year in the United States. It’s a very real concern and as parents we need to do everything we can to lower our baby’s risk.
So IS it okay to let your baby sleep with a blanket?
When your baby is first born, swaddling is often encouraged as a way to soothe your baby and help her feel safe. Most experts agree that if your baby is properly swaddled, it is okay for them to sleep on their backs while swaddled. However, once your baby begins to start to roll (around 3-4 months), discontinue use of the swaddle for sleep. It would be so dangerous for a swaddled baby to roll!
Once your baby is rolling and can no longer use a swaddle, there are still tools you can use to comfort your baby and keep him warm. Sleep sacks are a commonly-used item because they give the warmth of a blanket without the danger of it covering baby’s face. Some kids even come to see their sleep sacks as a comfort item associated with sleep. Footed pajamas or a long sleeve onesie and footed pants are also a great way to keep your baby warm without danger. Just make sure the pajamas fit correctly and are made of breathable material.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that there isn’t an age where it’s ever perfectly safe to add a blanket to your baby’s bed, but usually between 12-18 months the danger is significantly lower. This is because your baby is physically able to remove the blanket from their face or neck should they become entangled.
If and when you decide to use a blanket, make sure it is relatively small so there isn’t a ton of extra fabric to pose a danger to your baby. Try to use lighter-weight, breathable fabrics for an added measure of caution. There are a ton of great options when you’re ready – one of our baby’s favorite blankets is a custom baby blanket we had printed that has her name on it.
We know that talking about baby safety is serious and we know that you’ll never stop worrying about this tiny person that you love so much. But just know that if you’re following the guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics and doing your best to stay in tune with the needs of your baby, your little one will have a restful night’s sleep…even if she does it in two-hour increments.