When adults go to sleep, most of us love snuggling up under one (or more) cozy blankets. There’s nothing quite like slipping into your bed and under the soft coziness that brings you warmth and comfort. So, it’s natural that you’d want this for your baby. However, when you’re a new parent, you’re taught over and over that a baby can’t sleep with a blanket. This might seem confusing, and you might even worry about your baby being cold when they’re sleeping. This might even seem counterproductive to keeping your baby sleeping and comfortable. So, when can a baby use a blanket, and what options do you have in the meantime? Let’s take a look at all of these questions a little more in-depth.
Recommendations for Young Babies and Blankets
As far as infant sleeping goes, the American Association of Pediatrics updated its guidelines in June 2022, and they can be read here. The guidelines outline safe sleeping practices for babies including sleeping conditions, where babies should sleep and more. Unfortunately, the AAP doesn’t lay out a specific age when babies can start sleeping with blankets and pillows. So, it’s probably a question for your pediatrician. Your pediatrician will be able to tell you about the latest research and outline precautions you should take to fit your baby’s individual needs.
By not following the advice laid out in the guidelines and by your doctor, your baby might be at risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The AAP quoted Dr. Moon, who is a professor of pediatrics at the University of Virginia, School of Medicine. She said, “A baby’s death is tragic, heartbreaking and often preventable. If we’ve learned anything, it’s that simple is best: babies should always sleep in a crib or bassinet, on their back, without soft toys, pillows, blankets or other bedding.” So, keep all of this in mind as you decide what’s best for your baby.
Keeping Your Baby Warm Without a Blanket
You might be wondering then how to keep your baby warm if you can’t give them a blanket. There are a few different options, so let’s break them down.
The Right Pajamas
If you shop for pajamas in the colder months of the year, you’ll find an assortment of warmer options. They come in long sleeves and long pants with foot coverings (footie pajamas). You can also get them in thicker cotton or even fleece. Just be sure to stock up in the fall and winter on these PJs as they can be tricky to find in the spring and summer. These can be a great way to dress babies if you’re concerned about them getting cold while sleeping.
Swaddling has been a favorite baby comforting/sleeping technique for years. Some hospitals will even teach you how to swaddle your baby. However, you have to be a bit careful with swaddling. The AAP says, “There is no evidence to recommend swaddling as a strategy to reduce the risk of SIDS. If infants are swaddled, always place them on the back.” They also go on to say weighted clothing, swaddles or objects are not safe around your baby. So, don’t use those. When your baby starts to roll over, usually around 3-4 months old (but every baby is different, and it might be sooner), you should no longer swaddle them. It can increase suffocation risks. Just be sure to keep a close eye on your baby so you’ll know when they start rolling over. If your baby keeps breaking his/her arms free from their swaddle blankets, it’s probably time to transition to a wearable blanket.
A favorite option for many parents is getting a baby a wearable blanket, or they are also called sleep bags. Wearable blankets are just what they sound like. It’s almost like a tiny sleeping bag that zips up over a baby’s pajamas. They also have armholes. So, you can put the baby in long sleeve pajamas and a wearable blanket for a little extra warmth. In addition, wearable blankets come in varying thicknesses and fabrics. So, some are breathable and light, others are quilted or fleece. For more information, you can check out TOG (Thermal Overall Grade) ratings of the wearable blankets. The lower the rating, the more breathable the blanket is, and the higher the rating the more insulated.
You’ll just want to make sure you get the proper size for safety reasons. There are also some wearable blankets that have the ability to swaddle baby’s arms too, but again, you’ll want to check with your pediatrician first to make sure it’s safe to use these.
Heat Up Your Home
You can always opt to keep your house a tad warmer if you’re concerned about the baby being too cold when they are sleeping. Some people think space heaters are a good idea, but they can be very dangerous. So, do not utilize them in a baby’s nursery. The home heater is the best option for heating your home and keeping the baby safe.
When Can a Baby Use a Blanket?
Advice on this subject varies from expert to expert. Some say 18-24 months. Others say babies need to be at least 12M old. The What to Expect website says, “There is no official age that’s been deemed 100 percent safe to use a blanket, quilt or comforter, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), but most medical experts feel that soft bedding poses little danger in the crib to healthy babies after 12 months of age and ideally when they’re 18 months or older.”
If you’re unsure, it’s always best to ask your pediatrician for advice. While blankets can add a lovely, cozy touch to beds, they can be a big hazard, too, for a little one. So, always air on the side of caution and talk to the experts.
Can Toddlers Use Blankets?
So, can toddlers use blankets? The answer is usually yes! Make sure to clear it with your pediatrician just in case your toddler needs something different to be safe. If you’re unsure about using blankets, sleep sacks and wearable blankets are made in toddler sizes as well. So, they can be a great option, too.
So, in short, you should probably hold off on letting your baby use a blanket until they are at least 12-18 months old. And always be sure to check with your pediatrician first before switching any of your habits or if you are unsure of what to do.