If you think your baby needs a blanket in bed during sleep, carefully consider the risks. As an adult, you may need a blanket for sleep. Babies, on the other hand, have slept in warm pajamas snug to their bodies to allow for wiggles, turns and flips while in bed. If overly active during sleep, the baby faces the possibility of entanglement in a blanket. It can also lead to smothering, falls from the crib or other complications. You may ask, “When can baby sleep with blanket?” and this article may help you make a safe decision.

When Can Baby Sleep With Blanket?

When you’re shopping for your baby, there is a number of adorable and fluffy baby blankets to choose from. You may be very tempted to buy a few and cover your baby with one at night. The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a recommendation that babies shall not sleep with blankets, soft fluffy items, pillows or any other loose coverings to prevent injury or SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

Signs That Your Baby May Be Ready for Blankets

When can baby sleep with blanket? From a parent’s perspective, some have stated they didn’t feel their baby was ready for a blanket until right around one year of age, while others stated their baby was ready around six months old. It really depends on baby’s signals.

  • Baby can roll over–When you ask your baby’s doctor when baby can sleep with a blanket, the doctor may ask you if your baby can roll over yet. You may also be asked if your baby has good control of her head. Often, once these motor skills are functional, they may approve your baby to sleep with a blanket. Once these motor skills are intact, your baby can move her face away from the blanket to avoid suffocation or getting caught up in it.
  • Be able to move–One other important clue is the fact that your baby can move the blanket from around his face by himself. Even babies that are tightly wrapped in a receiving blankets as newborns should not sleep with blanket from around four months old, because they can cover their face. Then at around 8 to 9 months, you may notice your baby can swipe the blanket away himself. One way to check is to put your baby down at naptime with a blanket and keep a close eye. If your baby gets his face covered and does not move the blanket away, he is not ready.

Recommendations of the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics)

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends sleep items like bunting bags, sleeper sacks, two pairs of pajamas or a small heater in baby’s room.

As your little one gets older, the higher risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) goes down. An organization known as, Consumer Product Safety Commission, has reported sleep related deaths are directly attributed to certain factors like fluffy bedding, pillows in bed, parents who smoke, co-sleeping with alcohol use and heavy quilts. This is why the AAP recommends waiting until your child is over one-year-old to give them a blanket and/or pillow. The decision should come from both you and your child’s doctor.

Your pediatrician knows your baby and can tell you whether sooner or later is best for starting to use a blanket. Some doctors will say you can use a very light blanket as long as it is “well-tucked” into the side of the mattress. This is more common in colder climates where parents may have no choice other than to use a blanket. Some other doctors may recommend a knitted blanket with holes in it. Materials that are fluffy and fuzzy like fleece do not give any airflow if they cover the face.

Things to Keep in Mind

Contrary to what you may think, babies get better and safer sleep in a moderately cool environment. They don’t need to be cold, just not too warm. If you need to keep baby warm, then try an alternative like a sleep sack or blankets that are worn and fasten. You can also use the full-body pajamas with feet in them, known as “sleepers”, and you can even use a “sleeper” over a set of light pajamas.

If you must use a blanket-If you do live in a colder area and your home is chilly, you may have no other choice but to use a blanket on your baby. Some babies will fuss at night if they do not have something on them. In such case, you should choose one that has thin fabric and make sure it is well tucked under the crib mattress. Keep the blanket under baby’s arms and only up to the chest area. Placing a blanket over the arms and too far up can cause them to cover their face if they move their arms.

Pillows are never safe for babies–Statistics for pillows and babies are not good. Studies show that 32 infant deaths each year are attributed to pillow use by either laying the baby directly on the pillow or under their head. This is most common in 3 months old or younger babies. During the initial 4 months period of your babies' life, they are at very high risk of SIDS. Pillows increase this risk during this time, but pillows are not even recommended until baby is around 2 years old and sleeping in a regular bed.

Tips on Choosing a Proper Blanket for Baby

One thing is for sure, having a good number of blankets for baby once they are ready is important. Babies “spit-up”, diapers leak and once they start solids, things can get a little messy. So, it is perfectly fine to start shopping early and stock up.

1. Choose Blanket Suitable for Baby’s Skin

A baby’s skin can easily become irritated. You will need to be selective when choosing a fabric. Synthetic materials may cause a skin reaction. Also, be cautious with detergents and softeners as they can irritate baby’s delicate skin.

2. Decide on Blanket Material

The material you choose for your baby’s blanket is very important for both your baby and the environment you live in. Synthetic fibers are naturally more affordable, but far from anything natural. They can irritate your baby’s skin and often wear out faster than natural fibers. Look for natural “certified organic” fibers like cotton, fleece, hemp, wool or bamboo.