When Can Babies Sleep With Blankets? Plus, Safe Alternatives

Now that baby is getting older, you may wonder: When can babies sleep with blankets? Find out, plus learn how to choose the safest option for baby’s crib.

When Can Babies Sleep with Blankets baby post by Mama Natural

In keeping with newborn safety guidelines to help prevent SIDS, you dutifully swapped crib bumpers and blankets for swaddles. But now that baby is older, you’ve probably realized that you don’t know the answer to one seemingly simple question: When can babies sleep with blankets?

When Can Babies Sleep With Blankets

Experts say babies can have a small, breathable blanket after 12 months. Why? By this age:

  • The risk of SIDS goes way down. The risk is highest between one and four months, and drops steadily after that. In fact, 90 percent of SIDS deaths occur before six months of age.
  • Baby is much stronger. At this point, babies are generally strong enough to roll over and move blankets away from their faces, posing less of a suffocation risk.

But Should Babies Sleep With Blankets?

But keep in mind that all babies develop differently, and age should never be considered an absolute. There are so many other very important things to consider, like how strong your baby is. If your baby doesn’t have the muscle strength to pull themselves up yet, it’s best to avoid blankets for the time being. And even if your baby seems strong enough, there are other great, safer options for warmth and comfort while baby is still sleeping in a crib. (More on that below.)

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What to Use Instead of Baby Blankets

If you live in a cold climate, you might be weighing the risk of using a blanket against keeping your baby warm. But did you know that SIDS deaths rise in the winter, due to overbundling?

Rather than tuck baby in with blankets, try these comfortable, warm and safer alternatives:

Sleep sacks

The AAP recommends wearable blankets, or sleep sacks, to keep  baby warm. These are made to cover the body and not the head (think sleeping bag for baby!). Sleep sacks are essentially closed gowns that have holes for baby’s arms, but no casings for their legs. They usually have zippered or Velcro closures, and are fairly easy to get on and off. Their loose shape allows baby to move around, too. Sleep sacks are available in a wide range of sizes, from newborn through 5T. 

Halo Sleep Sack

For those in warm climates, or summer months:

Halo 100% Cotton Muslin Sleep Sack: This wearable blanket is crafted with two layers of lightweight and super soft muslin, making it an exceptionally breathable option for optimal airflow in warmer temperatures.

For those in moderate climates, or spring/fall months:

Burt’s Bees Baby Organic Cotton Sleeping Bag: This cotton sleep sack is thicker than some other brands, providing a little extra warmth when the temperatures are transitioning. Still, they’re very breathable, so baby won’t overheat.

For those in cold climates, or winter months:

Woolino Baby Sleeping Sack: Though this option is certainly pricey, it’s made of 100 percent merino wool, a natural, hypoallergenic material that helps regulate body temperature. It’s also extremely soft for the ultimate in comfort.

What Kind of Blanket Can Baby Sleep With?

If you do decide to use a blanket for a strong baby above the age of one, some blankets are safer than others. Here are some things to consider if you’re shopping around:

Consider length

You don’t want baby to get tangled, so start with a blanket that’s relatively small. It should just cover baby from the torso down. Anything too large or heavy can still be a hazard, as it can wrap around baby and get stuck.

This is a great option.

Consider material

Babies move around a lot, so breathable materials are better in case the blanket ends up over their face. Pick a lightweight blanket made of organic cotton or muslin.

This blanket set is a great option.

Consider weight

Be aware that overheating is a risk factor for SIDS, because babies can’t regulate their body temperatures the same way adults can. Choose a lightweight, breathable blanket, and keep baby’s room between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Do yourself a favorite: Get a small thermometer to keep in the room baby sleeps in. You’d be surprised how cool 68-72 degrees is! (Temperature isn’t the only thing that helps you sleep better; check out more tips here!)

We Co-Sleep: Can We Use Blankets?

The AAP doesn’t recommend co-sleeping at any age (they recommend room sharing instead) for safety reasons, but there are plenty of experts who say co-sleeping is safe, particularly after the age of one—as long as you follow some important safety precautions.

  • Avoid anything too fluffy, such as a down comforter, or with ruffles and excess fabric. Try to find a breathable light cotton blanket, like this one.
  • Use a firm mattress
  • Ensure there’s no space between the bed and the wall
  • Keep all pillows away from baby’s face
  • Dress baby in breathable clothing
  • Place baby to sleep on his/her back

For more information, read about the pros and cons of co-sleeping and how to do it safely.

Can Baby Have Toys in the Crib?

Now that you know when baby can sleep with blankets, what about those cute stuffed animals, loveys and other toys?

  • Before one year: The crib should be empty until baby is at least one years old and strong enough to roll over and pull themselves up.
  • After one year: An appropriately-sized small lovey, like this one, is okay to put in the crib—just make sure it doesn’t have any small parts that can come off.

The AAP says these objects pose little risk to healthy babies after 12 months of age. But don’t stuff the crib, either. Baby should have plenty of room to move around freely. 

Remember…

Although a small blanket and one appropriately-sized soft toy can be safe once baby turns one (provided they are strong enough), baby doesn’t need much in the crib with them overnight. The better, safer option is a wearable blanket. Babies move around so much, chances are any blanket you so lovingly draped over them before bed wouldn’t stay on long anyway!

Genevieve Howland

About the Author

Genevieve Howland is a childbirth educator and breastfeeding advocate. She is the bestselling author of The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth and creator of the Mama Natural Birth Course. A mother of three, graduate of the University of Colorado, and YouTuber with over 85,000,000 views, she helps mothers and moms-to-be lead healthier and more natural lives.

4 Comments

  1. I know I’m a little old fashioned, but we’ve always used blankets. Carefully, of course. My oldest is 18 and my youngest (of 7) is almost 1. We’ve never had any trouble. We’ve done a mixture of crib sleeping and co-sleeping. I agree it’s good to be cautious with these precious little people, but I think there are ways to use blankets and still keep them safe.

  2. I watched your youtube video for baby 21 WEEKS. Where did you get your sleep suite and amber necklaces? Please, I can’t find a sleep suite except for the Merlin one, Id like another option.
    Thanks,
    Megan

  3. My ten month grandson is standing in the crib when we go get him in the morning. But I am worried that he will trip and bonk his head trying to stand up in a sleep sack. Solutions?

    • @Eileen Castleware makes sleep sacks that have feet holes at the bottom to make it easier for them to stand and walk around without tripping or getting tangled 😊


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