With the arrival of a new baby, you’re likely also welcoming a whole swath of adorable baby toys, baby clothes, and accessories—which no doubt includes a number of baby blankets in enchanting colors and prints. While you’ll likely have a nursery full of baby blankets by the time the baby is born, you might be wondering: when can babies sleep with a blanket?
Although nothing is sweeter than a lovingly hand-knit or intricately quilted baby blanket from grandma, take a pause before putting your infant to bed with a bulky blanket or comforter. Today’s guidelines around creating safe sleep spaces for newborns and infants include keeping blankets out of the bed for their first year of life.1
While the ultra soft and extra sweet baby blanket might be relegated to cuddle time and tummy time, for now, there are other ways to keep your baby warm and cozy while they sleep. Keep reading for everything you need to know about babies, blankets, and safe sleep.
Safe Sleep Guidelines for Baby Blankets and Bedding
Contrary to the fluffy bumper pads and soft bedding of previous generations, current expert guidelines suggest bare-bones beds for the safest infant sleep. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), safe sleep guidelines for infants under one year of age strongly recommend removing all soft bedding, including blankets, from the sleeping area.2
One of the main reasons for keeping loose bedding out of baby cribs is that young infants often don’t have the strength or awareness to remove items that could be blocking their airways while they’re sleeping, leading to an increased risk of suffocation or SIDS.3
But keeping blankets out of the crib or bassinet is only one part of the AAP recommended safe sleep guidelines, which also include:2
- Keeping newborns in their own space in your bedroom
- Using a mattress with a flat, firm surface
- No bedding other than a tightly fitted sheet
- No stuffed animals or other toys in their crib when sleeping
- Placing infants on their backs to sleep
It’s important to follow the AAP’s safe sleep guidelines for crib safety for your child’s first year of life to minimize risks while they’re unattended (and so you can get some much needed worry-free zzz’s).
When to Introduce Blankets to Your Baby’s Bed
So, when can babies sleep with a blanket? AAP guidelines suggest that after 12 months you could start to introduce blankets during bedtime or naptime.2 But at the same time, it’s best to be cognizant of your baby’s individual strength and development.
Some families choose to wait longer than a year, especially if their child is settled into a comfortable bedtime routine already. And even if you start letting your baby sleep with a blanket at home, you’ll want to avoid letting them become reliant on a loose blanket if they attend outside care. Some daycares, for instance, may have policies that don’t allow blankets for infants during nap time at all.
Ways to Keep Your Baby Warm Without A Blanket
As adults, our first reaction to chilly air is often to grab a big, cozy blanket and cuddle up. But infants require other methods to stay comfortable and safe while sleeping. So, how to keep baby warm at night?
Newborns have difficulty controlling their body temperature for the first few months of life, so it’s up to parents and caregivers to ensure they’re keeping an ideal temp inside and out without the use of a blanket.4 Here are some suggestions to help keep your little one snug:
Pajamas & Layering
Getting your infant ready for sleep starts with choosing the right bedtime attire to keep them cozy and comfortable through the night (or at least the few hours between feedings). Footed baby pajamas in breathable organic cotton can keep the baby warm during chilly nights without sweaty overheating.
Adding extra pajama layers is an easy way to add warmth while keeping the sleep space safe, like wearing bodysuits underneath and socks over or under the footed portion of the jammies. Alternatively, jammies with convertible feet give you the flexibility to give their tiny toes some cooling breeze without changing their whole outfit.
Fine-Tuning the Room Temperature
Keeping the sleep space at an optimal temperature can help to minimize the need for extra layers and blankets. If the air is too cold, you’re more likely to have unexpected wakeups—and young infants are too small to let you know if they’re too warm. General guidelines suggest 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit to be optimal for promoting longer sleep and reducing SIDS risk.5
There’s nothing cuter than a baby burrito—a sweetly swaddled infant wrapped up tight for a newborn nap. While loose blankets aren’t recommended for infant cribs and bassinets, babies can still be kept warm and comforted when swaddled for sleep.
Whether you’re using the houdini swaddle, arms up swaddle, or burrito swaddle style, it’s one of the best ways to keep your newborn comfortable, warm, and secure while they slumber.
If you’ve got your little bundle sweetly dreaming in your arms with a belly full of milk, transitioning them to their bed without waking them up to start the cycle over again can be a gamble. Anything from a sudden temperature change to an unexpected Moro reflex could startle them awake. Swaddles keep babies wrapped up tight, mimicking that cozy embrace they love to snooze in and decreasing ways for them to be woken up prematurely.
How To Choose A Swaddling Blanket
Some baby blankets can double as swaddles in their first months of life, and others are made specifically for swaddling. While you’ve likely received some sweet swaddles as baby shower gifts, here are a few options if you’re looking for more swaddles:
- A coming home blanket in adorable patterns like pizza or elephants made from organic cotton offers just the right amount of stretch to keep the swaddle secure.
- Lightweight organic muslin swaddles in charming colors are perfect for warm weather swaddling and can do double duty keeping the sun away in a stroller or as an in-a-pinch nursing cover.
When To Stop Swaddling
While swaddling is a wonderful way to encourage sleep in young infants by mimicking the comforting embrace of a caretaker, once your baby starts rolling over on their own, it’s time to stop swaddling.
Keeping your infant’s arms free is important for them to be able to push themselves back to a safe newborn sleeping position, so once they’re wiggling about more freely, you’ll need to scrap the swaddle for something that gives them a bit more freedom.
Wearable Sleep Bags
Once your baby rolls and wiggles their way out of the swaddling stage, you can upgrade to a sleeping bag to continue the comforting bedtime benefits. A sleeping bag, sleep sack, or wearable blanket is a safer alternative to loose blankets, giving your infant warmth and security while keeping their face and arms free.6 You can find them in a variety of materials from soft cotton to ultra-warm fleece, and zipper or snap closures make diaper change access a breeze.
Consider some of these sleep bag styles for your infant’s nighttime needs:
- A wearable sleep bag with flaps or wings that can secure their arms in a similar way to a swaddle, helping to deter unnecessary wakeups and keep them feeling cuddled.
- An arms-out sleep bag made from comfy materials like organic cotton will give them the extra layer of blanket warmth while leaving room for little leg kicks and arm freedom for safe rolling.
Sleep bags are also an excellent choice if you haven’t been able to master swaddling or prefer the convenience of a quick zip, and are preferable if you have a tiny escape artist who seems to wriggle out of even the tightest wraps.
When to Stop Using a Sleep Bag
Sleep bags can generally be used through the toddler stage, but take cues from your little one for when they may be outgrowing it either size-wise or developmentally.6 While sleep bags keep baby and toddler comfortable and warm, they also can restrict movements. If they like to practice new skills like crawling in their bed or become daredevil toddlers trying to climb out of their crib in the wee hours of the morning, it might be time to pack the sleep bag away.
Other Ways to Use Baby Blankets
Just because your baby can’t sleep with all the beautiful and thoughtful blankets they’ll receive as gifts doesn’t mean they can’t still be used and loved during their first year.
Some ways to incorporate baby blankets into your daily baby routines include:
- As a soft play mat for tummy time
- Cuddled up with you for supervised naps when being held
- Displayed as nursery decor or hung on the crib when not sleeping
- As cozy backdrops for milestone photos
Lighter weight baby blankets, like receiving blankets and swaddling blankets, are perfect for using around the house as well. Use them as an extra layer between nursery furniture, as burp cloths, changing table covers, and more. You’ll be glad to have so many blankets around to handle every sticky, messy emergency that will no doubt come up.
Keep Your Baby Safely Snuggled With Monica + Andy
Along with eating and playing, good sleep is an important piece of your baby’s early development. And as the parent or caregiver of an astounding little bundle of joy, it’s understandable that you only want to give them the best, safest sleep.
At Monica + Andy, we have everything you need to keep your infant cute and cozy from naptime and playtime to bathtime and bedtime. From adorable baby clothing in classic styles and charming prints to accessories that complete their cute looks and make your life easier, trust that you’re getting the best in crib safety and quality for you and your child.
With our pajamas and blankets made with GOTS-certified organic cotton, you can rest assured you’re wrapping your infant in the softest, gentlest materials for the sweetest safe slumbers.
- American Academy of Pediatrics. Safe Sleep. https://www.aap.org/en/patient-care/safe-sleep/
- American Academy of Pediatrics. Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2022 Recommendations for Reducing Infant Deaths in the Sleep Environment. https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article/150/1/e2022057990/188304/Sleep-Related-Infant-Deaths-Updated-2022
- CDC. Safe Sleep for Babies. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/safesleep/index.html
- Stanford Medicine Children’s Health. Keeping Your Baby Warm. https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=warmth-and-temperature-regulation-90-P02425
- What To Expect. What's the Right Temperature for Baby? https://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/baby-care/what-is-right-temperature-for-baby/
- Cleveland Clinic. Are Sleep Sacks Safe for Babies? https://health.clevelandclinic.org/sleep-sack-safety/
- Medline Plus. Moro Reflex. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003293.htm