When Can Your Baby Sleep With A Blanket | Sleep Safety
Babies learn everything they know by observing their surroundings. So as your little one grows a bit older, they may develop an attachment to a cozy blanket (they see you sleep with one every night!). But when can your baby sleep with a blanket safely?
Blankets are a famously tricky business when it comes to infants. We know your first priority is the wellbeing and safety of your child.
That’s why we’re here to help you learn when it’s OK for your baby to sleep with a blanket and how to incorporate one into their bedtime routine.
When Can Your Baby Sleep With A Blanket?
The American Association of Pediatrics recommends waiting until your child has passed their first birthday before adding any blankets or toys into their crib.
Leaving extra stuff out of your baby’s sleeping area reduces the risks of SIDS, something we know you and your family prioritize. To protect your baby, blankets and toys should remain out of their crib until that “1” candle is blown out!
That said, the risk of developing SIDS while sleeping drops significantly once your child passes their first birthday. If your baby is older than 12 months, then we can explore some options together for adding a blanket to their sleep environment.
Things To Consider
The Position Of The Blanket
As you look for a blanket to add to your child’s crib, you’ll want to consider how it will fit into your little one’s sleep area. Where should it lay? How big should it be?
The blanket should never be free or loose inside the crib. Instead, the edges of the blanket should be securely tucked around the perimeter of the crib mattress. And the top of the blanket should never come above your baby’s chest.
Tucking the blanket tightly into the sides of your child’s crib mattress is the best way to give your little one a safe and cozy night of sleep!
It should be nearly impossible for your child to adjust the blanket higher over themselves and potentially cover their mouth. This is the safest way for a baby to sleep soundly and securely.
The Way Your Child Sleeps
Babies are incredibly unique. Some sleep as still as statues, while others may be natural wiggle worms!
It’s critical for your baby’s blanket to stay secure while they sleep, and a super active baby may accidentally loosen their crib blanket during all their tossing and turning.
We don’t want their movements to become restricted, and we don’t want them to run the risk of pulling the blanket over their mouth. So if your little one spends the majority of their sleep time rolling to and fro, adding a blanket to their crib may not be the best solution.
For your rock-and-roller, opt for onesies or footie pajamas instead. These will keep your baby just as cozy without preventing them from stretching, rolling, and getting comfortable.
Keep in mind that any sleep sack for older infants should have arm holes so they can push themselves off their faces if they roll over onto their tummy during the night!
The Type Of Blanket
Breathable fabric like muslin or thin cotton is a much better choice than thick, quilted material.
In the instance that the blanket ends up pulling away from the crib’s sides, thicker blankets pose a greater risk of blocking your little one’s airway than a blanket made with thin, breathable material.
Weighted blankets, which can sometimes soothe older children with sleep anxiety, should never be used with a baby. They restrict your little one’s mobility in a way that’s harmful and could be very dangerous while they snooze unaware of their surroundings.
You’ll also want to avoid blankets with flourishing details like ribbons, strings, or loose thread on the ends. These embellishments can easily become tangled between your baby’s fingers, toes, or even around their throat.
It’s best to keep your child’s blanket as simple, thin, and breathable as possible!
If you’re searching for the perfect match, our Newton Baby Organic Swaddle Blankets are completely breathable, washable, and pull their weight around the house! Use them as a nursing cover, a changing station blanket, or in your baby’s crib for a deep, secure, cozy sleep.
Other Soft Materials
Some children are particularly attached to stuffed animals. Their little elephant or puppy dog toy may soothe them during the day when they cry, but this may not be the best choice for soothing an agitated baby when they’re in their crib.
As we mentioned, it’s best to avoid filling your child’s sleeping area with extra stuff, even as they reach toddler years. The more things there are in their crib at night, the higher the chance that something might obstruct their airway if they roll over in the toy’s direction.
That said, if your little one is over a year old and prefers to sleep with a toy, the AAP establishes some guidelines on how to keep them safe:
- Larger stuffed animals should never be included in the sleeping area, as they can smother the child
- Toys with small parts such as buttons or beads should be left out, as they can be choking hazards
A soft toy with no protruding embellishments is the best option for your little one’s sleep time.
Things To Avoid
Precautions help keep your little one safe and sound. Taking sleep safety seriously will help you determine when your baby can sleep with a blanket.
And we’re here to help! Not only by telling you the can-dos, but also what practices should be avoided to ensure your baby’s safety.
Once your child is old enough to flip back and forth while sleeping — at least several months before their first birthday — they should no longer be swaddled.
This means if your child demonstrates interest in sleeping with a blanket but doesn’t enjoy the feeling of non-swaddled sleeping, a blanket is not the best solution for their sleep routine.
Instead, we recommend offering your little one a sleep sack. That way, they get the feeling of a secured swaddled while still maintaining the mobility of their arms, just in case they roll themselves into an uncomfortable position at three in the morning when no one is around.
Crib bumpers should continue to be left out of the crib. They are a health and safety hazard to your baby, even if they are over one.
Crib bumpers are much more dangerous than blankets. They are made of thicker, non-breathable material. They pose a threat to your baby’s safety while they sleep and could easily block their airflow.
Sleeping Outside Of A Crib
Whether or not you choose to let your little one sleep with a blanket after they reach the one-year benchmark, they should never be left alone to sleep on a couch or armchair. They could sustain serious injuries if they were to roll onto the floor.
Some supervised cuddle time on the couch with mom, dad, and a cozy blanket is fine — just be sure you don’t fall asleep in a heap in the middle of a movie!
Overhead Crib Decorations
Continue to keep the area above your baby’s crib free of mobiles or moving toys.
As they get older and learn how to stand and sway in their crib, they may reach up and pull down one of those trinkets onto themselves. This can be especially dangerous!
There’s also always a chance the toys may fall onto your little one while they sleep and obstruct their breathing. To avoid these scenarios, we suggest adding mobiles over a nursing chair instead.
If your baby is particularly soothed by the mesmerizing, slow orbit of a mobile, opt for harmless light projections instead.
Many modern sound machines have light functionality as well. This means while your little one listens to gentle lullabies or white noises, you can also use a projected “mobile” — often the machines will throw a cluster of gently moving stars onto your baby’s ceiling.
Your baby can sleep peacefully underneath their very own Milky Way!
When Can Your Baby Sleep With A Blanket: Weigh Your Options
When can your baby sleep with a blanket? After their first 12 months of life, the answer is flexible and depends on the individual personality (and sleep patterns) of your little one.
Consider whether or not it’s safe for your child’s sleeping habits to add a blanket into their nighttime routine. Would they be more comfortable with a sleep sack or a cozy onesie? Or do they sleep like a true dream with our Newton Baby Organic Swaddles used as a light blanket?
It’s all about what is most comfortable for you and your family. If that means using a blanket at your baby’s bedtime, then go for it!
Just keep the precautions we mentioned in mind. That way, you can ensure your baby is always safe and sound while sleeping.
From all of us at Newton Baby, sweet dreams!