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When to Put a Blanket in the Crib

When Can Babies Safely Sleep With Blankets?

With the wealth of cute, cuddly baby blankets on the market, it can be difficult not to put one on your sleeping baby. But the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends parents not to put any pillows, quilts, comforters, or other soft or loose bedding in their infants' sleep areas as a precaution against sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). "Pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, and other soft surfaces are hazardous when placed under the infant or left loose in the infant's sleep area and can increase SIDS risk up to fivefold independent of sleep position," the AAP explains.  

So how do you know when the risk of SIDS has subsided and it's safe to give your child a blanket? Many moms have come to Circle of Moms' communities to find the answer.

"[My baby] is almost 6 months old and can roll over both ways and pick her head up but I'm still worried about suffocation. When can my baby sleep with blankets and pillows without me worrying?" mom Taysha F. asks.

Laurie S. has similar worries for her 10-month-old daughter. "I know not to put a blanket in with an infant, but at what time is it OK to give her a blanket at bedtime? I use one for her naps and usually results in a better sleep, but I am unsure about what to do for bedtime!"

If you, too, are wondering about the right time to give your child a blanket to sleep with, then consider these three tips provided by Circle of Moms members.

Consult Your Pediatrician

While the risk of SIDS decreases as your baby gets older, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that the majority of sleep-related infant deaths it has data on have been attributable to suffocation involving pillows, quilts, and extra bedding. While there's no research that indicates when it's 100 percent safe to have such objects in your child's bed, AAP guidelines suggest waiting until your child is 1 to 1-and-a-half before introducing pillows and blankets. Consequently, deciding when to give your child a blanket should be done in consultation with your child's pediatrician.

Some will actually give you the green light sooner than you think. For instance, when Kimberly B.'s son came out of the neonatal intensive care unit, the specialist told her it was OK to put a light, nonfluffy blanket on her son, as long at it was tucked in under the bottom of the mattress so it can't move up while her son sleeps at night. 

Shamera D.'s doctor also advised her she could use a blanket as long as it wasn't a heavy blanket or comforter. "Living in Alaska, it is kind of insane to not cover your baby while they sleep," Shamera explains, "even during the Summer months." She adds that when her daughter was young, she tucked a light receiving blanket around her, and then as her daughter got older and was able to roll over, she increased the blanket thickness.  

And Sally C.'s pediatrician told her it was OK to use a blanket on her newborn daughter as long as it was a crocheted or knitted blanket that has holes. "Fleece blankets are no good at such an early age," she shares, noting she would wrap the blanket underneath her daughter and "since she hardly moved, it was fine."

Once He Can Roll Over

A typical time when parents seek their pediatrician's approval to give a child a blanket is once the baby can roll over on his own. "Does your daughter crawl or roll over? Does she have good head control?" asks Lisa N. "If yes, then my opinion is to go right ahead and give her a nice soft blanket" because that means she likely can avoid suffocation on her own.
 
Melissa B. agrees that doctors usually do not recommend babies use a blanket until they can roll over on their own both ways. But once that happens, "I don't feel that there is any harm in giving a baby a blanket once he or she can roll over unassisted and comfortably," Sarah S. says. Even if that happens before your child's first birthday, "they will learn that a blanket is for warmth sooner," she says.  

Djuana J. didn't give her daughter a blanket in the first six months, but once she turned 6 months old and could crawl and roll over, she "decided it was time that she could have a blanket in the crib. She loves her blanket. She sleeps from 9:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. It all depends on you and how you feel your baby can handle it," she says.  

When He Can Move the Blanket Himself

In addition to being able to roll over, another clue that your baby is ready for a blanket is when he can move the blanket off his face himself, Circle of Moms members say. For example, Amanda F. says she put a blanket on her son when he was born, but took it away when he was about 4 to 5 months old because he would wind up covering his face with it. When he turned about 8 to 9 months old and could move the blanket off his face, she put the blanket back in his bed.  

Diane G. also waited until her son was closer to 1 year old before giving her son a heavier blanket. She says she used a crocheted blanket that had holes in it when her son was about 4 to 5 months old. And now that he is nearly 11 months, even if he changes positions a lot at night, he is strong enough to shove the blanket underneath him and even snuggles with it. "Since he is able to move the blanket around on his own, I don't worry too much about [SIDS]," she says.  

In Sandrella M.'s daughter's case, being able to move the blanket herself is taking a little longer. "I don't think I'm going to use a blanket on her until she's old enough not to be moving around so much — maybe when she's 2," Sandrella says. "You know your baby best, so do what you feel is right for him/her."  

When you don't feel comfortable giving your child a blanket before the AAP recommends, there are other options to keep your baby warm, such as sleep sacks, sleeping bags, doubled-up pajamas, or space heaters. Ultimately, the right time to give your child a blanket "is a decision only you can make based on the information you have been given," Bronwyn F. concludes. 

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