Sleeping is essential for the harmonious development of your baby. And, as a parent, you should pay attention to this aspect from the very first days of their life. Naturally, you will wonder when can your baby sleep with pillows and blankets as they can’t enjoy this as soon as you bring them home.
Quick AnswerThe safest time to add pillows and blankets to your baby’s sleeping style is after 12 months old.
If you are surprised to read this, don’t worry because you are not alone. Most parents are not aware of these safety measures but luckily, you are reading this article so you will know better. And to back up this rule, there are several arguments that will be sustained by all pediatricians as well.
Why is it dangerous to add pillows and blankets to your baby’s crib before they get to 1 year old?
The simple answer is because they might suffocate themselves with those blankets and pillow during their sleep. This is known to increase the risk for SIDS- sudden infant death syndrome. And, unfortunately, there are many accidents like these that take place around the world.
What is even more frustrating is that most of these tragedies can be prevented with a good research before deciding to introduce a blanket or a pillow to the baby’s crib.
Parents are tempted to add such sleeping accessories to their baby’s crib because they think that they will increase the comfort. But babies don’t need pillows to be comfortable. The same restrictions apply when it comes to crib bumpers, sleep positioners or certain staffed toys. Pediatricians will strongly advise you to avoid such items as long as possible because they create a variety of hazards.
Babies younger than one year old, can’t protect themselves or decide if they should push a blanket off their face. They have no control when it comes to rolling into a stuffed animal and losing oxygen. And since they have no power to understand that something is wrong with them or their environment, they will not cry for help either.
Their little brains are not even developed enough to make them wake up as soon as their life is in danger. Basically, if circumstances for a tragedy align during the night or nap time, there are no ways your child can avoid a tragedy. This is why, you, as a parent, are responsible for eliminating such dangerous aspects from their sleeping environment.
Also, Having your newborn baby sleep in the same bed with you is never an option so don’t even entertain that thought!
As for pillows, these are definitely not needed until your baby transfers from their crib to a regular bed. They might not create the same hazards when it comes to your toddler’s safety as blankets do, but they are simply not needed. Even if pillows usually come as part of the crib sleeping set, it doesn’t mean you should use it.
There are small pillows that can be used in the crib for babies that are older than 12 months if you really want to add one. To stay on the safe side, make sure such a pillow is firm and not bigger than an airplane pillow. Feather pillows are definitely not recommended because they are soft and your baby can suffocate with them without realizing. These feather pillows can also lunch allergies and different reactions that are not comfortable for a young baby.
What to use to cover your child before they turn 12months old
So, it is pretty clear that pillows, blankets and stuffed toys are a no-no when it comes to your baby’s safety. But still, what should you use to make them feel warm and cozy during their night sleep or naps? All young toddlers need is a wearable blanket and a pacifier. And even the pacifier is a debatable subject.
Wearable blankets are very common and you can find them in the majority of baby stores. Some of them have holes for arms and head so that they fit perfectly on your toddler’s body. Others have a zipper so you can use them pretty much like a sleeping bag. All types of wearable blankets are safe and recommended to use for children younger than one year old. And they are fairly affordable as well.
Nowadays, the market has a lot to offer in terms of sleeping accessories for babies. But some of these options are safe while others clearly aren’t.
For instance, loveys, are considered an interesting alternative to blankets that can be introduced when your child has more than 6 months old. These are simple pieces of cloths that have a cute animal head attached to them. Since they are pretty small and made of a very soft material, loveys are not necessarily a danger to your toddler.
But you still have to pay attention to the length of these accessories. If you are tempted to buy a lovey, find one that is exactly the size of your child and if it happens to be longer, adjust it. Also, make sure there is no way they can wrap it around their neck or head in a life threatening way.
And before you introduce a lovey, you can try to do a little test. Put one on your baby while you are watching them sleep. See if they are moving it around and if it bothers them during their little nap. If your baby removes the lovey as soon as they get uncomfortable, it is safe to keep using it.
How can you tell if your baby is ready to use a blanket
Even if your child is one year old or older, this doesn’t seem that they can automatically start using blankets and pillows. There should be a transition phase in which you observe them in the most critical way. This will help you know for sure if they are ready to use such sleeping accessories. Here is how to tell if your little one can switch from a wearable blanket to a regular one!
Add a blanket in the crib when the baby is awake
Before covering your baby with a blanket for an entire night, try to see how they react to it when they are awake. Sometimes, babies are fascinated by blankets and they see them like toys. The same goes for pillows. But such an experiment can give you a clue about how your child will react to the new sleeping accessory and how much you can trust them alone with it.
See if your baby roll and crawl good enough
Most babies roll and crawl just fine once they reach one year old. But you still have to make sure they are little masters at it before introducing a blanket to their crib. If your baby can free themselves of the blanket by rolling or crawling, that is another sign the blanket is safe. If they push the blanket off in front of you, it means that they will do the same when they are alone so you don’t have to worry. However, if you notice that they have difficulty doing that, it might be better to wait a couple more weeks and test their dexterity again.
Talk to a pediatrician
The last but not least criteria before adding a blanket and pillows to the baby’s crib is the visit to the pediatrician. You will be able to decide for it by yourself but it never harms to get an advisory opinion from a specialist. Your doctor will tell you exactly when to cover your baby with a blanket and even what type of blanket to use. And bottom line, this can be the ultimate factor in your final decision.
Safety measures to take as soon as your baby starts to sleep with a blanket
If your baby is already at the right age to use a blanket and ready for such a transition, there are certain adjustments that you should consider in order to increase your baby’s safety. These tips are very important especially for first-time parents who tend to make mistake without realizing it.
1. Make sure you use thin blankets
The material of the blanket you use on your baby is very important for their safety and comfort. The first rule is to make sure that the blanket is thin enough so your baby can push it off them if they so need. Thick blankets are riskier as they are harder to manage by young toddlers and they can trap the baby and suffocate them. Another aspect to consider is the fact that the material of the blanket should be breathable. Your baby should have the chance to breathe through the blanket but this is also important for their skin which needs oxygen as well during their sleep.
Try to find blankets made of cotton to increase the quality of your baby’s sleep as well as their comfort. Also, choose a blanket that is long enough to be tucked in under the mattress to increase the safety during nap time.
2. Dress your baby appropriate
If you decide to cover your baby with a blanket, you will have to adjust their outfit to the new sleeping conditions. Try not to dress your baby in too many clothes when you also want to cover them with a blanket. The best choice is to have them wear a one cotton piece underneath the blanket so that they will not sweat or get too warm during their nap or nighttime sleep. If your child is not at the best temperature during their sleep, they will be agitated and they can even harm themselves because of it.
3. Make sure the room temperature is optimum
The room temperature is essential for your baby’s health. If you set the temperature to an optimum balance, your baby might not even need a blanket at all. Make sure it is not too cold or not too warm and try to maintain the same temperature throughout the night. That way, your little one will be safe and sleep comfortably for hours without having to face additional risks.
Avoid leaving windows open because the cold breeze can definitely ruin the temperature balance you create in your baby’s room. You can simply make sure to air out the room every day to allow them to breathe high-quality air during their sleep.
4. Clean your baby’s blanket and pillow regularly
Hygiene is very important for children so this is not something that can be neglected. Your baby’s blanket should be washed at least once a week and the same goes for the sheets and pillowcases in their crib. You will need to use the right type of detergent that is created for washing baby clothing and lingerie and avoid using the same detergent that you use for your own clothes.
Also, don’t wash the baby’s blanket and beddings in the same load with your own laundry! Checking the blanket’s tag will help as the manufacturer should give you precious washing tips in order to make the most out of it and prolong its lifespan. By following these guidelines, you will protect your child from potential bacteria and health risks.
Hopefully, this guide will assure you of the right time to introduce a blanket into your baby’s crib. And remember that their safety is always the first criteria to consider, followed by their comfort. You want your little one to enjoy their naps and nighttime sleep without taking any risks. A toddler that is well-rested and enjoys a healthy sleeping environment is more likely to develop in a better way and have less crying moments.
Usually, children tend to cry in order to attract their parent’s attention over one aspect that makes them uncomfortable. This can very well be the type of blanket you are using on them or if you use one at all. Apply the steps and tips in this guide and you will end up with a healthy and happy toddler!
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