Your baby can sleep with a blanket after 12 months old. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends against use of blankets, pillows, and soft toys in an infant’s bed. The details, of course, depend on your observation of your baby’s own development.
How many is too many?
My friends have been passing around on Facebook the past couple of weeks a story of a 7-month old baby strangled in his sleep by a blanket—a blanket he had been sleeping with since birth.
One of my friends acknowledged the contradictory advice we hear about how babies should sleep. Advice changes over time. Advice changes by parenting approach. Advice changes by culture.
Most of us can look at recommendations and see that we were raised differently, but we ended up OK. My brother-in-law ate (yes, ATE) two full baby blankets as he sucked on them in his sleep. He was working on a third before he let go of the blanket altogether. He seems a normalish sort of guy now, but he is lucky he didn’t choke on his blanket.
We hear terrible stories of babies whose deaths or injuries could have, would have, should have been avoided. The AAP recommendations try to avoid the accidents, the predictably preventable accidents.
But, even their recommendations change. Parents have choices to make.
The AAP Recommendations
In November 2011, the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) expanded their list of recommendations for safe sleep to go beyond just SIDS-related recommendations to more general recommendations for safe sleep.
I admit that I would not follow all of the AAP recommendations (such as “room-sharing without bed-sharing” and “consideration of using a pacifier”), but I understand their rationale for keeping soft bedding away from a baby sleeping alone.
The recommendations go further than this, though. They even recommend against babies sleeping on a sheepskin or sheepie, which has been shown by studies to improve sleep over other fibers (University of Sydney, Australia) and to decrease lifetime risk of asthma (European Respiratory Society, Germany). I would not follow AAP recommendations in this case, because I think the scope of their considerations is too narrow.
A holistic study of babies’ sleep would look at sleep quality, short- and long-term health, fiber content, and more. Perhaps the University of Sydney’s Baby1000 study will give us some of that data, which is exciting since so much research on baby sleep and on wool comes from the University of Sydney.
Until a holistic study breaks through the AAP’s conservative tendencies, put their recommendations in a broader context and make the choices that work best for your family when it comes to AAP recommendations that have been contradicted in other studies.
- European Lung Foundation, “Sleeping on animal fur in infancy found to reduce risk of asthma.” September 7, 2014. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-09/elf-soa090314.php
- Amy Graff, “Study: Babies who sleep on animal skins less likely to develop asthma.” September 8, 2014. SFGate / San Francisco Chronicle. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-09/elf-soa090314.php
- Mirim Shin, “The effect on sleep of fabric for sleeping apparel and bedding.” August 29, 2014. Thesis, University of Sydney. http://hdl.handle.net/2123/13492
No blankets! No room for contradictions.
In the case of blankets over a sleeping infant or sleeping with pillows or soft toys, DON’T DO IT.
- Use no loose bedding. Soft, loose bedding (blankets or pillows) increase risk of suffocation or sudden infant death syndrom (SIDS).
- Keep your baby warm with a wool sleep sack or wool footie pajamas. These can’t move around, get wrapped around a baby’s neck, or block airways.
- Keep toys out of the bed. Some babies like to sleep with loveys, but avoid this for the littlest babies.
- Avoid pillows altogether.
Nothing magical happens at 365 days old. You know your baby. Can she move a blanket away from her face? Does he express a preference not to wear heavy pajamas?
The goal in avoiding loose, soft objects is to avoid entrapment, suffocation, or strangulation.
Is your 366-day old baby ready when she wasn’t at 364 days? You need to make that decision as the parent who knows your own baby. Introducing a blanket isn’t about a date but about a development milestone, an ability to use that blanket safely.
Our Recommendations for when Baby can sleep with a blanket
Blanket OVER baby in arms.
Use any blanket when you are with your baby. You are vigilant against the dangers listed by AAP.
Our blanket listings on Etsy specifically recommend that a blanket should be used with an infant (under 12 months) only while the baby is being held.
NOTE! IS YOUR BABY LESS THAN 12 MONTHS OLD? AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends that a child not sleep under soft bedding like blankets while alone in a bed until at least 12 months old. For safety, use blankets over your sleeping baby only while you are holding the baby.
Blanket OVER baby sleeping alone.
When your baby is sleeping alone, follow AAP recomendations to wait until baby is 12 months old.
When exactly can a baby sleep with a blanket? You need to decide based on your own baby’s development.
Blanket UNDER baby sleeping.
When you are using a blanket as a wetness barrier with an infant (under 12 months old), place the wool mattress pad or puddle pad between the sheet and the mattress. Wetness protection should be, as recommended by AAP, thin.