Safe and Cozy: When Babies Can Sleep with a Blanket

Updated 
June 10, 2024
 | 
6
 minutes read
Written by
Amanda Kule
Parent Contributor

There's nothing like cozying up in bed with a favorite blanket after a long day. However, when it comes to creating a comfortable sleep environment for your baby, it’s important to know that blankets are not considered safe for a baby’s first year of life.

In this article we review why it’s not safe for newborns and young babies to sleep with a blanket, when infants can sleep with a blanket, and how to keep your baby warm at night without a blanket.

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Is It Safe for Babies to Sleep with a Blanket?

Pediatricians and child safety experts agree that it’s not safe for a baby to sleep with blankets or any other soft bedding until at least 12 months of age. This is because infants lack the motor skills and strength to free themselves if their breathing becomes obstructed by the blanket.  

Sleeping with a blanket therefore could lead to suffocation or strangulation or increase the chances of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Even if you think you safely cover your baby with a blanket, there is a good chance your baby will move or shift in their sleep.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also includes not letting your baby sleep with a blanket in their safe sleep guidelines. The AAP also advises keeping soft objects and loose bedding in addition to blankets out of your infant's crib or sleep space for their first year. Your baby should always be put to sleep on their back for their first year of life, too.

What Are the Risks of a Baby Sleeping with a Blanket?

There are many risks of a baby sleeping with a blanket before your baby turns one. These risks may include:

  1. Suffocation: Blankets can become potential suffocation hazards for newborns and young infants who do not yet have the motor skills or strength to move a blanket away from their face. If a blanket covers an infant's nose and mouth and they can’t move it, they may not be able to breathe, which can lead to suffocation.
  1. Overheating: Using a blanket can raise a baby's risk of overheating, which is one of the risks for SIDS. Young babies are less capable of regulating their body temperature, and being too warm while sleeping could cause their body temperature to rise to unsafe levels.  
  1. Strangulation: Blankets can pose strangulation risks for newborns or babies under one-year-olds. If an infant gets entangled in a blanket, they could struggle to get untangled.
  1. Increased Risk of SIDS: The American Academy of Pediatrics says that placing a blanket or any soft objects or loose bedding in an infant's sleep area for at least the first year can increase the risk of SIDS.  

When Can Babies Sleep with a Blanket?

What age can a baby sleep with a blanket is a common question parents ask. Experts say that babies can start sleeping with a blanket after their first birthday. This is because at this age they often can safely choose their own sleep position and move objects away from their face if they're uncomfortable or can’t breathe.  

Keep in mind that every child's development may vary. You can speak to your pediatrician to discuss if you should wait to introduce a blanket until they are a little older.  

How Do I Keep My Baby Warm Without a Blanket?  

Keeping your baby warm without a blanket, especially during cooler nights, is a concern for many parents. Luckily there are many ways to dress your baby at night to keep them warm without a blanket.  

Safe alternatives to blankets for infants under 12-months-old include:

  • Wearable Blankets or Sleep Sacks: A wearable blanket or sleep sack are excellent alternatives to blankets. They are designed to be worn over a baby’s sleepwear, keeping them warm without the risks associated with loose blankets. When your baby turns one you can switch from a sleep slack to a blanket (even though some toddlers may prefer a sleep sack or wearable blanket!)
  • Proper Room Temperature: Keeping the baby's room at a comfortable but cool temperature can reduce the need for a blanket. The temperature to set your baby’s room is ideally between 68°F and 72°F (20°C and 22°C).
  • Swaddles: If your baby does not show signs of rolling over, swaddling is a great alternative to a blanket. Keep in mind: swaddles are not safe for babies that show any sign of rolling over.  

Expert tip: If your baby is struggling to fall asleep at night despite being warm enough, take this free 3-minute sleep quiz to see what else you can do to help your baby fall asleep faster – and stay asleep longer.

Final thoughts

While offering your baby a blanket to sleep may seem like not a big deal, it is very dangerous if they are under the age of one. Sleeping with a blanket under 12-months-old is proven to increase the risk of SIDS, as well as other sleep-related accidents.  

Luckily there are many ways to create a cozy sleep environment for your baby that don’t involve a blanket. If you’re looking for tailored advice on creating an age-appropriate sleep environment for your infant, download the Smart Sleep Coach by PampersTM app. The app includes a step-by-step sleep plan which includes setting up your baby’s room and creating a sleep schedule that’s aligned with their biological rhythm and adjusts as they get older.

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FAQs:

By the time your baby is 12 months , the risk of suffocation or SIDS because of a blanket decrease and you can offer your baby a blanket to sleep with.

When your baby turns one, it usually becomes safe for them to sleep with a blanket in their bed.

There isn’t a specific age when your baby needs to stop using sleep sacks. It’s safe for a baby to sleep in a sleep sack for quite some time. It often depends on a child’s growth and personal preference to determine if it’s time to stop using sleep sacks and switch to a blanket. For example, some toddlers may continue to enjoy the comfort and security of a sleep sack and can keep using it as part of their bedtime routine.

The AAP recommends that a baby under the age of one does not sleep with a stuffy, blanket, or other loose bedding. Before your baby’s first birthday, it's best to keep the crib free of any soft objects, including stuffy toys, to minimize risks of suffocation and SIDS. After 12 months, the risks associated with a stuffy decrease significantly and many parents feel comfortable introducing a stuffy.

It is unsafe for a 9-month-old to sleep with a blanket. For all babies younger than 12-months-old, such as a 9-month-old, there is a higher risk of suffocation or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) associated with sleeping with a blanket. Instead of a blanket, you can use a sleep sack or wearable blanket for a 9-month-old. These are designed to keep babies warm without the risks associated with loose bedding.

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How We Wrote this Article

The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.

Sources

American Academy of Pediatrics, “Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2022 Recommendations for Reducing Infant Deaths in the Sleep Environment”

American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children.Org, “Swaddling: Is it Safe for Your Baby?”

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, “Safe to Sleep: A Guide”

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