Is it safe for babies to sleep with a blanket? This is one of the most common questions that a new parent will have when deciding how their baby should sleep. While you may feel tempted to use all of the cute baby shower gifts you've received, such as quilted blankets, cozy comforters, or other soft objects, you'll need to make sure you don't get ahead of yourself or put your baby in danger with soft bedding that might not be age-appropriate.
In this blog post, we'll discuss everything you need to know about your baby sleeping with a blanket and how best to keep your baby warm and maintain a safe sleeping environment.
When Can My Baby Sleep With A Blanket?
According to research conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, you'll want to make sure that your baby sleeps without a blanket until they've reached at least their first birthday.
The risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is higher in babies under the age of one. This means that you'll want to make sure your baby doesn't have any loose baby blankets, pillows, stuffed toys, or other items that could potentially cause suffocation and asphyxiation while they are sleeping. It is very important to follow safe sleep practices in the first year of your little one's life.
As a new parent, you might feel tempted to keep your baby warm with a lightweight blanket, but you'll need to ensure that your child has nothing covering them while they are sleeping. The safest way for babies under the age of one to sleep is to put them in comfortable clothing or a sleep sack without any covers or blankets surrounding them. Sleeping with a blanket can present choking hazards and lead to infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Remember The ABCs Of Safe Sleep
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using the ABC acronym when it comes to helping your child sleep as safely as possible. ABC stands for Alone on their Back in a Crib.
Your Baby Should Sleep Alone
When your baby is ready to sleep, you should ensure that your baby is in their own bed and that there aren't any other objects in the baby's crib with them, such as pillows, stuffed animals, blankets, or toys. Unfortunately, having these items around can increase the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and suffocation risk. Alone also means that parents and siblings should not be sleeping in the same bed together but instead should have the crib next to the bed. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is best to avoid co-sleep during the first year of your baby's life to keep your sleeping baby safe.
On their Back
When you put your baby down to sleep, they should be on their back and without baby blankets. Peer-reviewed studies believe that having your sleeping baby on their belly is the most significant risk factor in SIDS deaths as it restricts breathing and increases the risk of accidental suffocation.
In a Crib
Finally, you'll want to ensure that your baby is sleeping in their own crib. While it's tempting to let them sleep on the couch, in car seats, or in a bed with you, this increases the risk of SIDS. Make sure your baby has their own designated space to sleep, including a firm mattress with a fitted sheet that is safe and free from any blankets, stuffed animals, or other items that could cause them harm. The child's crib is always the best place to keep baby safe.
How To Keep Your Baby Comfortable At Night Without a Blanket
While it's not recommended to let your baby sleep with a blanket until they are at least 12 months old, there are a few things you can do to help keep them comfortable during the night while avoiding loose objects in your child's crib. Here are some safe sleeping practices you can use to help your baby start feel comfortable at night.
1. Use A Wearable Blanket Sleeper (Sleep Sack)
If you are concerned about keeping your baby warm at night, wearable blankets are an easy way for parents to make sure their babies stay cozy without having any loose blankets. These sleep sacks often keep both hands and feet warm while they're sleeping and can be worn outside of the crib as well!
If you don't have a wearable blanket sleeper, you can also choose to layer clothing to maintain a comfortable sleep environment for your baby. The rule of thumb is to add one additional layer than what you would wear to bed.
If you choose to swaddle your baby, please remember that a swaddled baby is only safe when they cannot rollover. Once your little one is able to roll, you should stop swaddling immediately as this can become a risk factor for sleep related infant deaths.
2. Adjust The Temperature Of The Room
An easy way to keep your baby comfortable on cold nights is to adjust the room's temperature. It's recommended to keep your home between 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit to provide the ultimate comfort for your little one. You should keep it slightly cooler than you would for yourself, as this will help ensure that they don't overheat during sleep.
To check if it's too hot or too cold, you can always touch the nape of your baby's neck to see if it feels sweaty or cool. This is a good indicator that they need something adjusted to be more comfortable.
3. Use A Firm Sleep Surface
It's also essential to ensure that your baby is sleeping on a firm sleep surface. This means avoiding any mattresses, beds, couches, or other soft bedding surfaces that could increase the risk of SIDS and suffocation.
Don't use alternative special mattresses, positioners, bumper pads, or wedges, as there is no proof or evidence that this is safe for your child. Instead, you should put your baby to sleep on a flat surface such as a crib mattress or bassinet. A toddler bed or big kid bed should be avoided until your baby is old enough to move to a larger bed. Your child's crib is best for a safe infant sleeping environment.
4. Use A Pacifier
Pacifiers are a great way to help soothe your baby while they fall asleep as they provide a sense of calm for your child. Since sucking is very natural for babies, they can often find relief from using a pacifier as it replicates a familiar behavior. If your baby is having trouble sleeping, you can try giving them a pacifier to help them to fall asleep easier.
5. Avoid Smoking
Your baby's lungs are very sensitive at a young age, especially because they're developing and not as strong as a full-grown adult. So even if you don't smoke around the baby, second-hand smoke can find its way onto your clothing, blankets, or other items your baby needs.
That means when they use these items, they're inhaling second-hand smoke, which can cause damage to their lungs. While you may not notice that your baby is being harmed by second-hand smoke, research has shown a link between smoking around babies and SIDS.
6. Try To Breastfeed
Breastfeeding is a great way to provide comfort and help your child sleep better. Because of the natural rhythm that comes with breastfeeding, it can be very soothing for them and make falling asleep easier than when they're on their own. Plus, you'll provide the exact nutrition your baby needs in order to help them fall asleep.
7. Keep It Quiet
One of the keys to having a successful sleep schedule is keeping it quiet. Babies thrive on structure, which means they need you to set specific times for when things are going to happen in their life, including sleeping.
Because babies can't tell time like adults, one way that parents help combat this issue is by setting up a napping and sleeping routine to help their baby understand when it's time to sleep. This usually means avoiding any loud noises or activities during the times you've designated for them to sleep.
8. Monitor Their Sleep Position
Sleep position is also something to keep an eye on. As previously mentioned, babies should always sleep on their backs as it decreases the risk of SIDs.
To monitor your baby, you can use a video monitor in your baby's crib or check on them every 30 minutes or so to ensure they haven't rolled over. However, once they can move around and crawl independently, this becomes less of an issue, as they can move from any uncomfortable position.
When to Introduce Blankets
Once your baby is 12 months or older, they can start to sleep with a blanket. However, you need to make sure that it's the right kind of blanket. Find a thin blanket that is lightweight, breathable and small in size. It should be big enough to cover your baby but not too heavy. Otherwise, you'll end up with a baby who won't be comfortable at night and may wake up consistently in the middle of the night to adjust for comfort.
If you're not comfortable using a blanket yet, you can use sleep sacks made for your toddler. These sacks are designed to keep your child warm without the risk of them becoming tangled up in them. They are also helpful for keeping the blanket away from baby's face.
Eventually, you'll want to transition your baby to a regular blanket as they get older, but make sure to follow the same safety guidelines when doing so. For example, make sure that the blanket is lightweight and small enough that your baby can't become wrapped up in it and suffocate. You should also avoid any blankets with strings or ties, as they can be a choking hazard for young children.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, when it comes to finding the right age for your baby to sleep with a blanket, it's best to hold off until your baby's first birthday or older to decrease the risk of SIDS. Once they are 12 months old, you can use a lightweight blanket to make them feel more comfortable at night.
Before this age, you should avoid giving them a blanket, stuffed animal, or any objects at night and instead focus on other ways to help them fall asleep as comfortable as possible.
By using the tips we've listed above, you're sure to help your baby feel relaxed and fall asleep without any issues or the need for blankets. If you want to learn more about finding some fabulous sleeping accessories for your child, browse through our complete collection at Duchess and Fox.
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