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Wondering when your baby can sleep with a blanket? Find out when you can let your baby sleep with a blanket, and why you should wait to give your baby a blanket when they sleep!
My husband used to always ask me when we could let our daughter sleep with a blanket and I always told him the same answer: not yet! If you recently transitioned your baby to a crib you may be wondering if it’s safe to give them a blanket at this point.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping the crib bare, to reduce the risk of SIDS, especially for the first six months when the risk of SIDS is the highest. That means no crib bumpers, stuffed animals, pillows or baby blankets. Remember, a boring crib is a safe crib.
Most experts agree that by the time a baby turns 12 months old, it is okay to give them a blanket. If your baby hasn’t reached the one-year milestone, hold off on letting them sleep with a blanket.
Why Wait to Let My Baby Sleep with A Blanket?
If you’re like me, you probably got about a dozen baby blankets at your baby shower. I received a few homemade quilts, crocheted baby blankets, and several adorable store bought baby blankets, Most of them are just sitting in the linen closet begging to bundle up a sweet little baby!
The problem with giving a blanket—or other soft items—to a baby too young is that any loose objects in the crib could pose a risk of entrapment, strangulation, and suffocation. Young babies aren’t coordinated enough to pull a blanket off their face if it’s covering their breathing airways, or to free themselves if they get wrapped up in the blanket.
To me, the risk just isn’t worth it. Especially since there are plenty of safe sleep alternatives to keep your baby warm at night. (See below for specific options.)
Now this doesn’t mean your baby will be blanket-less forever! After 12 months of age, your baby’s risk of SIDS plummets. Most SIDS deaths occur before six months of age, and the risk goes down drastically with each month that they grow.
Can My One Year Old Sleep with A Blanket?
Twelve months seems to be the general consensus for when it’s safe for your baby to sleep with a blanket. At 12 months old, your baby is much stronger now! They are probably pulling themselves up to a standing position and maybe even taking a few steps! They are starting to learn coordination and could easily move a small blanket away from their face if it was affecting their breathing.
Evelyn was climbing, walking, and moving all over the place by her first birthday, so I felt comfortable giving her a blanket at that point. I think we even started giving her a baby doll to snuggle with as well. Of course, use your discretion if you think your baby is ready to sleep with a blanket, no matter their age.
How Do I Keep My Baby Warm at Night?
If you’re worried that your little one is too cold without a blanket, there are plenty of other ways to keep them warm. You can generally dress your baby in similar clothing that you would be comfortable in. If you live in a colder climate, you might be tempted to let your baby sleep with a blanket, but don’t! The risks of SIDS actually rises during the winter months.
Try these alternatives for safe sleep:
- Use a swaddle if your baby hasn’t started rolling yet.
- Once your baby can roll over, transition them to a sleep sack or wearable blanket. We loved the Halo sleep sack. It comes in fleece and cotton options and goes all the way up to 2T! Another bonus of using a sleep sack is that it can help keep your baby from climbing out of their crib. (We kept Evelyn in a sleep sack until she learned how to take it off at two years old!)
- The Woolino 4 Season baby sleeping bag is pricey but claims you can put your baby in it for all four seasons. The merino wool is a breathable material and helps regulate body temperature.
- This Baby Deedee quilted duvet sleeping bag is a heavier option for colder climates. It has a breathable fabric and is recommended for use in a room with a temperature of 64 to 74 degree F.
When Can Baby Sleep with A Comforter?
When you do introduce a blanket—after your baby is 12 months old—make sure to introduce a lightweight blanket. Hold off on using a large comforter or heavy quilt until your baby transitions to a toddler bed.
Start with a small, lightweight blanket that your baby will be able to move around and off of them if they need to.
What Age Can Baby Have A Pillow?
Babies really don’t need pillows. We think they do, because we are so used to it, but they are used to sleeping on the flat surface of the crib.
You can wait to introduce a pillow to your baby until you transition them out of the crib and into a toddler bed. I recommend having them help you pick out a fun pillow and blanket to get them excited about their new big-kid bed. That will be another transition for another day!
What to do with All Those Baby Blankets in the Meantime?
So what do you do with all of those adorable snuggly blankets that you received? You can still use them—just not in your baby’s crib. Here are some ways to enjoy those baby blankets and still follow safe sleep practices:
- Lay a blanket on the ground with some toys for baby to play.
- Play peek-a-boo, hiding under the blanket and surprising your little babe.
- Hold the blanket under you as you snuggle baby in your arms.
- Drape it over your baby in the stroller as you go for a walk outside.
- Save them as a new special blanket for when they turn 12 months old.
What’s your favorite way to keep your baby safe without a blanket? We lived by sleep sacks when Evelyn was that little!