Looking at your baby sleeping without a blanket can make you feel a little uncomfortable; you might end up thinking that your baby will catch a cold. We understand your concern, and it is certainly a valid one. You must be wondering when can your baby sleep with a blanket. Your baby may catch a cold if he/she sleeps without a blanket at night. But we also like to inform you that there is a specific age, and before that age, you should not put a blanket on your baby.
We do not mean to scare you here, but these are all practical risks that you would never want to take with your precious child. If you have read books during your pregnancy, you might be aware of the fact that babies should be put to sleep on their back (in their crib), and that too over a firm mattress. Having an empty crib reduces the chances of SIDS while having any loose or soft item under the baby’s crib could be dangerous. You might have also heard this advice from your doctor.
Now the question arises “When can baby sleep with a blanket?” We have the answer to this question in our article. But first, let’s discuss the connection between blankets and SIDS.
What is the Connection between Blankets and SIDS?
SIDS or Sudden infant death syndrome is the unexpected, sudden death of an infant (baby). Medical experts are not sure about what exactly leads to SIDS, but according to a few studies, the potential reason for SIDS may be an ‘immature arousal center.’ The same prevents leads to improper breathing in infants.
According to research, every year around 3,500 babies die in the USA due to SIDS. In 1994, a sleep campaign was launched named “The safe to sleep campaign.” It was launched to encourage new parents to put the infants to sleep in their backs. After that campaign was launched, there was a decline in the number of infants dying from SIDS.
Things that increase the risk of Sudden infant death syndrome:
Putting a pillow, blanket, stuffed animal, and any other object under the infant’s crib can increase the risk of SIDS. The American Academy of Paediatrics’ SIDS Taskforce, 2016 says, “Soft objects, such as comforters, pillows, loose bedding (non-fitted sheets, blankets), quilts, pillow-like toys, and sheepskins has the capability to obstruct an infant’s mouth and nose. And an obstruction can pose a possibility of entrapment, suffocation, and SIDS”. In other words, your child may accidentally press their mouth and nose into the pillow or comforter while sleeping, and this could potentially lead to suffocation.
When can the baby sleep with a blanket?
According to the AAP (American Academy of Paediatrics), it is essential to keep loose bedding and soft objects out of the baby’s sleeping area for at least 12 months (the first 12 months of the baby). This recommendation is comes from the data of sleep deaths of infants, and it comes under guidelines for eliminating the risk of SIDS.
Besides the above recommendations from the American Academy of Paediatrics, there are a few other factors that you should be aware of (even if the infant is old enough) when determining the safety of an infant. Those factors include the thickness and size of the blanket, edging, and fabric, etc.
Let’s discuss a few of them below:
- One of the most important things to consider is the fabric of the blanket/comforter. The fabric plays an important role in influencing the safety of your child. Blankets that are created from muslin fabric are better options for infants as compared to other thick fabrics. This is because muslin allows free breathing. Heavy blankets (weighted ones) are used for older children that may have sensory concerns, but such blankets are not at all safe for infants or small babies. We suggest our readers to always select the muslin blankets for infants.
- Always avoid purchasing blankets that have strings and ribbons attached. Such blankets may wrap around your baby’s neck and may choke him/her. Therefore, such blankets are not safe to be used for infants.
- Also, avoid larger blankets, as they may also lead to suffocation and strangulation hazards. Avoid purchasing such blankets even if your child turns one.
Some tips for safe sleep
Apart from keeping the baby’s crib clear of the pillows and other objects, there are so many other things that are needed to be kept in mind to enhance the safe sleeping environment for your child. Some of them are given below:
- If you are keeping the child’s crib clear of pillows, comforters, soft toys, also try keeping it clear of the bumpers. Bumpers may look attractive and match the décor, but they carry potential risks of suffocation the same way as pillows and toys do. Here are some great crib bumper alternatives.
- According to AAP (American Academy of Paediatrics), the positioners, wedges, and other mattresses do not reduce the risk of SIDS but actually may enhance the risk of SIDS. Although you would be happy to know that the pacifiers are believed to eliminate the risk of SIDS, it can be offered at the time of your child’s sleep.
- If your baby has learned to roll, the baby may also start sleeping on their stomach. Side and stomach sleeping is considered fine, but only once the child has developed sufficient strength to support themselves.
- Always keep the area beside and above the crib, clear of any artwork, mobiles, and window treatments. Have a quick tidy up before you put your child to bed.
- Have a baby monitor installed in the nursery so you can keep an ear out for how your baby is doing. Here’s one baby monitor we recommend.
- Keep your baby’s room baby-proof, this will ensure the safety of your child even if he/she manage to get out of the crib. If you are prepared, you will not have to worry that the baby will get hurt by anything in their bedroom or nursery. This will ensure their safety even when you are not around.