When Can a Baby Sleep with a Blanket? Everything You Should Know

"How will I know when it's time for my little bundle to sleep snuggled up in a blanket? Isn't there a bit of a risk if I introduce it too early?"

This is the eternal question that has been passed down through generations of parents. Like a rite of passage, it is asked and answered in hushed tones and written in invisible ink on the pages of parenthood. It’s an unspoken uncertainty we will uncover together, with reassurances whispered like a gentle lullaby in your ears.

There are risks, indeed, tied to this decision. The world of a newborn is a delicate dance, a ballet between safety and comfort, that is not performed lightly. Each step is considered, each pirouette perfected to the rhythm of the baby’s needs.

But fear not, dear parent, for we're here to navigate this mysterious terrain together. Just like a seasoned guide leading an expedition, we’ll forge a path to a cozy and safe sleeping environment for your darling child. We’ll gently unlock the secrets of a serene sleep, with the warmth of a blanket nestled safely around your little one.

The journey might seem steeped in apprehension at first, but rest assured, armed with the right knowledge, you'll soon see your baby cuddled up in a blanket, sweetly surrendering to the dream world. It's a sight that warms the heart, a lullaby to the soul, and a reassurance that everything will indeed be alright.

Related: Cognitive Development Theory: How Parents Can Support It

 a baby grabbing at a blanket

When Is It Safe to Introduce a Blanket?

Most pediatricians recommend that you wait until your baby is at least twelve months old before you give them a blanket to sleep with. The reason for this is due to the increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome, commonly called SIDS. This is attributed to having blankets or loose bedding in the baby’s crib before the recommended age.

If your baby is still under twelve months of age, you can still take a few steps to keep them comfortable while also keeping them safe. You can consider using wearable blankets or sleep sacks for your baby to help them transition from sleeping while being swaddled to sleeping with a blanket. Sleep sacks and wearable blankets will help keep your baby comfortable and warm and will fit snugly enough not to pose a hazard. 

If your baby is a newborn, consider swaddling instead of giving them a blanket to sleep. Swaddling covers your baby snugly with only their head exposed. This keeps your baby warm and also comforts them while teaching them to self-soothe.

Use layers of clothing to keep your baby warm while they sleep so they don’t need to use a blanket. Make sure you do not overheat your baby by only giving dressing your baby up a layer more than what you need to stay warm in the same temperature.

Related: Tips for Keeping Your Baby Cool & Safe in Summer

Keep the temperature in your baby’s sleeping area somewhere between 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit to keep your baby comfortable without needing to use a blanket to keep warm. This will help your baby sleep through the night and reduce the risk of overheating which can increase the risk of SIDS.

a baby in a wearable blanket


Risks of Sleeping with a Blanket Too Early

Giving a baby a blanket to sleep with before the recommended twelve months can pose some significant risks and lead to a heartbreaking accident. Blankets or other pieces of loose bedding can quickly become a suffocation hazard for your baby since they can cover the baby’s mouth and nose and block their airways. 

After a few months of life, babies will become very active and will often roll over onto their stomachs. A blanket can get wrapped around babies while they are doing this and can cause them to suffocate.

It is important to wait until your baby is old enough to sleep with a blanket safely. Do not rush this process since it can pose a significant risk to your baby!

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Follow the ABCs of Safe Sleep

The leading cause of death in infants aged between birth to twelve months is sudden infant death syndrome. SIDS is when a healthy baby under twelve months old suddenly and unexpectedly dies. This usually occurs during their sleep.

We still don’t fully understand what causes SIDS but researchers believe that defects in the brain that control breathing and the ability to rouse themselves out of sleep have a strong correlation with it.

While SIDS is terrifying to even think about, there are a few ways that we can help prevent it from happening. Whenever you are laying your baby down to sleep, make sure that you follow the ABCs of safe sleep. This stands for Alone on their Back in the Crib.

Babies need to sleep alone which means that parents, siblings, and other family members should not be sleeping with the baby. This will reduce the risk of the baby suffocating on an article of clothing or being smothered by rolling over in your sleep. Make sure that your baby sleeps alone, and that includes clearing any toys, loose bedding, or blankets out of their crib to give them a safe sleep.

The safest position for your baby to sleep in is on their back. Sleeping on their back also helps to keep their airway open, reducing the chances of your baby suffocating. Do not let your baby sleep on their stomach or on their side because they may not yet have the neck strength to raise their head to breathe.

Put your baby down in the crib to sleep. This will make sure they have a flat and firm surface that is made for babies to sleep on and keep them protected and safe. It is recommended that you keep your baby’s crib in your bedroom until they are at least six to eight months old so you can check on them if there is anything wrong.

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a baby sleeping wrapped up in blankets


Final Thoughts

Oh, how we yearn, as parents, to tuck our little ones in, to wrap them in a blanket's warm embrace as they drift into dreams. But, dear parent, let's whisper a tiny secret of the universe, a pearl of wisdom that has been carried down the river of time: Wait until your baby reaches their first birthday, their grand milestone of twelve months, before introducing them to the comfort of a blanket in their sleep.

This way, we ensure our sweet bundles of joy are mighty enough, have gathered their strength to move the blanket away if it dares to tumble onto their tiny faces. It's all about timing, about patience, about allowing our little ones to grow into their strength and their independence.

Yet, the winter chill or the fall's crisp air may seem daunting. But worry not, for there are other heroes in this tale. The humble swaddle, the trusty sleep sack, these are the sidekicks in our adventure. They will keep your baby warm, snuggled, and safe, within their comforting folds until they are ready for their first blanket.

And in this adventure of a thousand nights, remember to carry with you the magical guide – the ABCs of Safe Sleep. This golden compass will ensure your little explorer sleeps warmly, safely, and soundly.

Let's etch these alphabets onto our hearts: A for Alone, B for on their Back, and C for in a Crib. They may seem simple, but they hold the keys to a peaceful night's sleep for your little one. Follow these, and your baby will slumber under the watchful eyes of the moon, the stars twinkling a lullaby as they dream their dreams of innocent wonder.

Related: Baby Colic: Things Parents Need to Know

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