Skip to main content

When can babies sleep with a blanket without posing a safety risk?

When you’re just putting together your first nursery, you may be tempted to deck out your crib area with tons of cute pillows, soft and cozy blankets, stuffed animals, and more, but you could be creating a huge safety risk for your baby. Experts recommend not adding items like these to your baby’s crib until they reach a certain age. Ideally, your baby will sleep in an environment that’s entirely bare, with the only thing on their mattress being a fitted sheet. But your baby can’t sleep on just a sheet forever. When can babies sleep with a blanket and other crib items? 

Understanding the risk 

Before transitioning your baby to sleeping with a blanket, it’s important to understand the risk involved and the importance of following expert recommendations for your baby’s sleeping area. According to the CDC, about 3,400 babies in the United States die every year from SUID, or sudden unexpected infant death. These deaths occur, most usually, during sleep and in the baby’s sleeping area. The CDC notes that certain precautions taken with your baby’s sleeping area can greatly reduce the chances of SUID. These precautions include placing your baby on their back for any nap or sleeping, only using a firm mattress with a fitted sheet in their crib, and keeping blankets, pillows, bumper pads, and soft toys out of the crib as well. 

baby crawling under blanket
Image used with permission by copyright holder

When can babies sleep with a blanket?

So when is it time to transition your baby to sleeping with a blanket? The American Academy of Pediatrics advises transitioning healthy babies to sleeping with a blanket only after they’re a year old, and ideally only after they’re 18 months old. At that time, you can add a small, thin blanket to your crib, and maybe one soft toy or stuffed animal. You want to avoid adding too much to the crib at one time, as your baby can become easily entangled in extra blankets or pillows, which can lead to suffocation. Additionally, regardless of your child’s age, hold off on adding anything to your baby’s crib if they haven’t yet developed the necessary motor skills to push things away from their face as needed. 

What about swaddling?

Swaddling is generally considered okay for newborns and babies that are not quite moving around in their sleep much yet (up to about 2 months of age). This is because swaddling, while technically using a blanket, tucks everything in, in such a way that the fabric can’t cover your child’s face. However, refrain from using a normal blanket over your child’s tucked swaddle blanket and, once your child does start moving around more in their sleep and rolling over, stop swaddling completely. 

What if my baby gets cold?

If you’re worried about your baby getting cold at night, you’ll want to dress them warmly before putting them to bed. But don’t worry about this issue too much — it’s likely that you’re worried for no reason. In fact, the ideal sleeping temperature for most infants is around 70 degrees, so a little cooler than you might keep your home normally. A good rule of thumb? If you’re cold after you crawl into bed, your baby might be, too. So, feel the skin around their upper torso and, if it’s cold, you might need to dress your baby more warmly; if it’s warm, you may need to actually remove some of their layers. 

Other ways to protect your baby while they sleep

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, beyond keeping blankets and other soft, loose materials out of your baby’s crib until they reach 18 months of age, there are a few other things you can do to protect your baby during their first year or two of life, including using a firm crib mattress, placing your baby in your bedroom in their crib or bassinet but not co-sleeping with your baby, and using a pacifier. The American Academy of Pediatrics is pretty outspoken about the dangers of co-sleeping, with Rachel Y. Moon, M.D., FAAP, leader of the academy’s task force on SIDS, saying, “Some parents … think if baby is right next to them, they can tell if there is a problem … and protect the baby” — but unfortunately, that’s not the case. 

The ABCs of safe sleeping

The academy recommends parents follow the ABCs for safe infant sleeping environments: “A” for alone, “B” for on their back, and “C” for an uncluttered crib. The academy is also quick to point out that babies should never be placed on a couch or pillow for nap time, especially if they’re placed on the couch with another person. 

For more tips on infant safety, check out our guides to baby-proofing your furniture and outlets.

Editors' Recommendations

Holly Riddle
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Holly Riddle is a freelance food, travel and lifestyle journalist, who also dabbles in copywriting, ghostwriting and fiction…
How to make baby headbands that are adorable
Easy DIY headbands for baby
Cute baby girl in a headband sitting up.

Can't resist those darling headbands in the baby department when shopping for your little cutie? What is it about a headband that makes it a must-have addition to baby's wardrobe? Headbands became an accessory in the 20s for ladies. The fashion statement became practical during World War II when women wore them to protect their hair while working in the factories. Sports headbands were big in the 60s, 70s, and 80s to keep sweat out of the eyes of top athletes. By the 80s, though, headbands became a popular trend for everyone on and off the field. Bruce Springsteen made headbands a staple when his Born in the USA album took over the charts. Headbands eventually made their way to children because they're stylish and functional. A headband keeps hair out of the eyes and away from the face while adding style to an ensemble.

Today, babies have started wearing headbands, too. Now, babies don't need a headband to keep hair out of their eyes. They just look super cute in an adorable headband that tops off an equally darling outfit. Headbands are picture-perfect for those delightfully sweet baby photos, and let's not get started on the holiday baby pics. DIY headbands for baby are a fun project to get the creative juices flowing, whether you are a do-it-yourself enthusiast or a beginner. So, how do you make baby headbands? Creating a headband for your baby isn't as difficult as you might think, and we have just the inspiration you need to get started.

Read more
When should a baby sleep in their own room? The best time to make the switch
How to tell if your baby is ready to sleep in their own room
Baby sleeping on their back.

Babies grow and develop so much during the first year of their life and with that comes a constantly evolving sleep schedule. Many parents choose to either co-sleep or have a bassinet near their bed to provide as little sleep disruption as possible, especially for newborns. But as the baby gets a little older and begins to sleep longer, many parents find themselves wondering when to move their baby to their own room. From official recommendations to your own gut instinct, we'll take you through how to make these choices.

When to move from a bassinet to a crib
You should move your baby out of their bassinet once they reach its weight limit, which will likely be between 10 and 20 pounds. Additionally, if your baby begins to roll over or sit up, you should move them to a crib. Even if neither of these factors applies, and if you see your baby becoming cramped with its head touching the wall of the bassinet, it's time to move to a crib. You don't have to move from a bassinet to a crib and from your room to their own room at the same time, but it is most convenient for many.

Read more
When can babies have chocolate milk? This is when it’s safe to let your child indulge
How to introduce this beverage to your child
A glass of chocolate milk with a straw

Introducing your baby to new foods is a fun milestone for every parent. Watching your little ones as they experience new tastes and textures is an exciting part of their development. Many parents know when they can begin to introduce milk to their babies, but may wonder if the same rules apply to chocolate milk. Are little babes old enough to try it yet? When can babies have chocolate milk? It can be quite the job to keep up with what babies can have and at what age. So, for this delectable treat, we will help you find out when little ones can indulge in a glass.

Babies shouldn't have sweets or milk if they're not at least a year old. But even if they've celebrated that first birthday, there are other factors to consider.

Read more