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When Can My Baby Sleep with A Blanket?

In A Nutshell:

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends babies not sleep with any loose bedding, including blankets, before 12 months of age. It is generally accepted that 12 months of age is a safe time to introduce a blanket if you wish. 

Keep reading to find out how to keep your baby warm while following safe sleep guidelines.

baby sleeping with a blanket

If you are like many new parents, you received more than one baby blanket before your baby was born. Baby blankets are undoubtedly a popular baby gift, but when can babies sleep with a blanket? 

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 your baby’s sleep space bare, as part of the abcs of safe sleep to reduce the risk of SIDS, especially for the first six months when the risk of SIDS is the highest.

That means no soft objects, including crib bumper pads, stuffed animals, pillows, or loose blankets. Remember, a boring crib is a safe crib. And a safe sleep environment for babies is the utmost importance!

The only thing that should be in your child’s crib is a firm crib mattress and fitted sheet.

It’s generally accepted that 12 months of age is a safe time to introduce a blanket if you wish. 

Keep in mind that baby’s first blanket should be small and lightweight. You want your baby to easily be able to pull or push their blanket off of their face if needed. 

But, you don’t have to introduce a blanket at 12 months if you would rather wait. Remember, your baby has been sleeping without a blanket for an entire year at that point and doesn’t know anything different. 

Also, most 12-month-olds aren’t exactly good at staying under a blanket and blankets tend to spend more time off of babies than on them at that age anyway. 

Is your baby struggling with short naps? To help you better, grab my free guide to solving short naps to get practical tips of how to get your baby to take longer naps every single day. Click here to grab it, it’ll be super helpful.

baby sleeping without a blanket

Why Wait to Let My Baby Sleep with A Blanket?

If you’re a new parent, like me, you probably got about a dozen baby blankets at your baby shower. I received a few homemade quilts, crocheted baby blankets, thin blankets, and 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 bedding—to a baby too young is that any loose objects in the crib could pose a risk of suffocation, entrapment, and strangulation.

Young babies aren’t coordinated enough to pull a blanket off their face if it’s covering their breathing airway, 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.

baby sleeping with stuffed animal

Can A 1-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 and has way more motor skills.

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 thin blanket at that point.

I think we even started giving her a small 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.

If your baby is going through a 12-month sleep regression, now is a great time to introduce a lovey or small blanket as well. Make sure you’re following a 1 year old schedule as well to make sure your baby is getting the sleep he needs.

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 by adding an additional layer or warm clothing. You can generally dress your baby for sleep in similar clothing that you would be comfortable in.

It is perfectly okay to continue using a sleep sack, or even just pajamas if your baby is comfortable, and waiting to introduce a blanket until your baby is 18 months or moves into a toddler bed. 

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 rises during the winter months. Instead, learn how to dress your baby for sleep in the winter safely.

Try these alternatives for safe sleep as the best ways to keep your baby warm:

  • Once your baby starts rolling 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).

  • This Baby Deedee quilted duvet sleeping bag is a heavier option for cold nights. It has a breathable fabric and is recommended for use in a room with a temperature of 64 to 74 degree F.

  • Try dressing your baby in layers. You can put them in footie pajamas and add a warm winter sleep sack.

TOG Rating

You can also check the TOG rating on many baby’s clothes to get a good idea of how warm the fabric is and if it’d be appropriate for your baby to sleep in.

TOG Rating the Thermal Overall Grade. The higher the TOG, the warmer the fabric will be for your baby.

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, light blanket that your baby will be able to move around and off of them if they need to.

baby sleeping with a blanket

When Can You Stop Worrying About SIDS?

SIDS is every parent’s worst nightmare, and is the reason for the recommendation that babies do not sleep with blankets, pillows, or other loose bedding.

The SIDS risk is the greatest in the first 6 months of life, peaking at 4 months of age. At 6 months old, there is a significant decrease in the SIDS risk, and the risk steadily decreases every month until 12 months. 

Keep in mind that even once the SIDS risk has dropped and bedding becomes okay, you still want to be mindful of safe sleep and avoid putting your baby to sleep with anything that could be a choking hazard or otherwise dangerous to your baby. 

What Age Can Baby Have A Pillow?

Pillows are not advised in a crib at any age, even for toddlers. 

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!

Can You Let A 2 Year Old Sleep With A Blanket?

If you have a 2 year old, there are no recommendations against letting your 2 year old sleep with a blanket. 

However, keep in mind that large blankets and thick, fluffy comforters are not recommended in cribs and you will want to wait until your child moves to a toddler bed before introducing those. 

The same is true for pillows. If your 2 year old is in a toddler bed and you would like to introduce a small, flat pillow that is fine, but hold off on the pillow if your child is still in a crib. 

baby sleep sack in a crib

When Should Babies Stop Using Sleep Sacks

You can keep using a sleep sack until you move your baby to a toddler bed and then introduce them to a blanket.

Sleep sacks can be a great cue for sleep as part of your baby’s bedtime routine, while keeping your baby warm at night.

Even toddlers may kick off a blanket in their sleep, so sleep sacks can be helpful until they can grab their blanket and bring it back over their body.

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 soft 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!

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!
Amy Motroni

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Friday 21st of May 2021

[…] out of the swaddle when your baby starts to show signs of being able to roll over. You can let your baby sleep with a blanket once they hit 12 months […]