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When Can Your Baby Sleep With a Blanket? Our Top Safety Safety Tips

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Baby blankets are often a childhood staple, but as with most things related to caring for babies, it’s important to understand vital safety precautions, particularly when it comes to sleep.
Though you may want to give your newborn baby a cozy blanket to sleep with, softer objects like bedding have been linked to an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome1 (SIDS), especially in the early months of a baby’s life.

The good news is that all those handmade gifts didn’t go to waste, and yours won’t either. If you’re wondering, “When can my baby sleep with a blanket?”; keep reading. We’ll go over this and various other sleep safety tips for babies.

Baby Sleeping With a Blanket: Is it Safe?

During pregnancy, you may have dreamt of tucking your little one into bed each night. While a comforting bedtime routine is important, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)2 suggests that you keep your baby’s crib free of blankets and other items such as pillows and toys.

These guidelines are based on research that soft objects in a child’s sleeping area could lead to suffocation, strangulation, and an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)1. Once your baby is at least one year old, you can introduce a blanket, but it’s still best to consider safety. We suggest that you start with something small, lightweight, and breathable.

Connection Between Blankets and SIDS

Every year, more than 3,600 infants die from sudden, unexpected causes, including SIDS, suffocation, and strangulation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)3. The exact cause of SIDS is unknown, but factors like genetic changes, birth defects, and environmental stressors (such as cigarette smoke) may play a part4.

Normally, if we have trouble breathing at night, our bodies signal us to wake up and get oxygen, but some babies may have brain development issues5 that impact this. As such, they may not wake up and cry if they’re not getting enough oxygen. Further, even if a baby is able to wake up, they probably won’t know how to remove the blanket that’s obstructing their breathing.

In order to keep your baby safe and lower the risk of SIDS, the only items that should be in the crib are a tightly fitted sheet, your baby, and a sleep sack (if needed).2


You may have heard the terms “SIDS” and “SUID” interchangeably, but there is a difference between the two. SUID stands for “Sudden Unexplained Infant Death6,” and it is the unexpected death of a baby when there is no apparent cause of death. 

SIDS, “Sudden Infant Death Syndrome,” is considered to be one of several causes of SUID. Unlike other causes of SUID, the SIDS diagnosis is only given after all other possible causes of death have been ruled out. This includes a thorough examination of the death scene, autopsy, and a review of the baby’s medical history.6 

Aside from SIDS, other causes of SUID can include asphyxia or suffocation, an inborn metabolic condition, and injury or trauma.6 

Can Sleep Accessories Help Prevent SIDS?

Many products are marketed to “help prevent SIDS,” including wedges, inclined sleepers, and other positioners. However, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development warns that these products do not meet federal safety guidelines7, and have been linked to injury and death. They emphasize: “No product can prevent SIDS.” So, instead of adding sleep accessories to prevent SIDS, it seems the best thing is to limit sleep accessories to a simple fitted sheet covering the mattress. 

When Can Babies Start Sleeping With Blankets?

You can consider introducing a blanket after your baby turns one year old. Keep in mind that there is still a slight risk of suffocation with large and thick blankets, as well as blankets that contain ribbons and strings. Babies and toddlers move around a lot while sleeping, so a sleep sack is one of the safest options to use through toddlerhood.

Learn More: Parent’s Guide to a Child’s Sleep

Swaddling Your Baby

Swaddling8 is wrapping a thin blanket snugly around your baby’s body. This resembles the womb and can help calm and relax a newborn.  

While medical experts recommend using a sleep sack for your baby first and foremost, swaddling should also be safe 9 when it is done correctly. This means you should make sure the swaddle blankets do not come loose or cover your baby’s face. Once your baby learns to roll over, you should stop swaddling them. This way, if your baby rolls onto their tummy, their arms aren’t stuck in the swaddle, and they can push themselves back onto their back. You can move your child to a sleep sack if you still want to provide them with a comforting blanket-like feel once they can roll over.

Get More Info: Sleep Sack or Swaddle Blanket – Which One Should You Get for Your Baby?

Transitioning from Sleep Sacks to Blankets

Sleep sacks are sleeveless, wearable blankets10 for babies that look like sleeping bags with arm holes. They typically include a zipper or snap buttons, come in different fabrics, and range in sizes from preemie to toddler.

Sleep sacks are a great option to provide warmth or general comfort for your child, without the risks associated with regular blankets. The sleep sack won’t move and cover your baby’s face, so the risk of suffocation decreases immensely.10 Not only that but babies can also suffocate by rolling over and being stuck on their stomachs. When in a sleep sack, your child’s arms are free, so if they do roll onto their stomach, they can use their arms to help themselves roll over onto their back.10

When your toddler outgrows the largest sleep sack size or simply refuses to wear their sleep sack, you can transition them to a lightweight, breathable blanket.

Blankets as a Source of Security

Once your baby is old enough to safely sleep with sleep accessories, including blankets, a pillow, or stuffed animals, they may latch onto one object or another as their literal “security blanket.” Most often, this is a blanket or a stuffed animal, and according to experts, these transitional objects11 play an important role in your baby’s development. 

Your baby may use this transitional object as a source of comfort. These objects may help them sleep by reassuring them when they’re separated from you, and comforting them when they’re upset. If it is a blanket they’ve attached to, experts say, as long as your baby is old enough to safely sleep with a blanket (about one year old), there is no harm in letting them “depend” on this blanket each night to get to sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics even recommends having a duplicate blanket (or cutting a larger blanket in half) so that your baby can continue relying on the comfort of their blanket– even if one is in the wash.11

The only time to be concerned, pediatricians say, is if your child’s dependency on their blanket is inhibiting their development of social or language skills12. In this case, it may be time to wean your child off of their blanket dependence. You might start this by limiting their blanket to use at home or in the car, but not in public. Eventually, as they get older they should naturally stop relying on their blanket for sleep or comfort. Still, it may resurface at times of stress, even through adolescence, which is okay.12

How to Dress a Baby for Naps or Sleep

If you’re worried about your infant getting cold without a blanket, you can dress them in layers or use a sleep sack. You can use this guide to help you choose their sleeping outfit based on the temperature of  the baby’s room:

Temperature What to Dress Your Baby In
75 degrees or lowerUndershirt and diaper, covered by pajamas or a dressing gown, and then wrapped in a receiving blanket. A wearable blanket sleeper or sleep sack is okay if an extra layer is needed.
75 degrees or higherSingle layer. General tip is to add one more layer of clothing than what you are wearing to feel comfortable in that same environment.

Extra Baby Sleep Safety Tips

Along with not using a blanket until your baby is at least one year old, there are some other sleep guidelines that are important for safety.

Keep the Crib Free of Pillows, Toys, and Other Objects

The AAP advises that no soft objects, including pillows, toys, and stuffed animals, should be in the crib where your infant is sleeping.2 This way, there are fewer items that could harm your baby.

Never Let a Baby Sleep on a Couch

Couches, sofas, and armchairs are extremely dangerous places for babies to sleep because of the risk of falls, strangulation, and suffocation3. Make sure your baby is always sleeping in a crib or bassinet.

Baby Should Sleep on a Firm Surface

If you’re looking for a crib mattress for your baby’s crib, try to find a firm mattress13. When you press down on a firm mattress, it is responsive and quick to return to its original shape, which is safe for babies because they shouldn’t become strangled or suffocated within the materials.7

Put Baby to Sleep in a Crib

As mentioned, the safest place for your baby to sleep is a crib or bassinet, not a bed, couch, chair, or other surface. If your baby falls asleep somewhere other than the crib or bassinet, moving them to a safe place as soon as possible is best.

Even if your baby falls asleep in their car seat or stroller, try to move them to a crib or bassinet, as these are safer options.13

Establish a Consistent Bedtime Routine for Your Baby

Establishing a consistent bedtime routine for your baby will signal to them that it is bedtime and hopefully help them fall asleep more easily. You can incorporate reading a bedtime story, rocking them in a rocking chair, using a sound machine, or singing a lullaby into your bedtime routine.

Nicole Johnson, president and lead sleep consultant of The Baby Sleep Site, shares, “A consistent bedtime routine helps calm your baby before it’s time to sleep. When your bedtime routine is consistent, your baby will know what to expect, and it will help establish healthy sleep habits. A good night’s sleep often starts with an effective sleep routine.”

Share a Room, Not a Bed

For the first year of life, babies should sleep in the same room as their parents but in their own sleeping space, like a crib or bassinet. Room sharing allows parents to monitor their baby at night, and it is also far safer than parents sharing a bed with their baby.13

Get More Info: Safe Co-Sleeping With Your Baby

Use a Pacifier

Offering a pacifier at naptime and bedtime can help reduce the risk of SIDS, even if it falls out after your baby falls asleep. A 2020 study14 found that “pacifier use during sleep may improve autonomic control of breathing, airway patency, or both”, thereby reducing the risk of suffocation associated with SIDS.

Put Baby on Their Back to Sleep

The AAP recommends that parents place infants on their backs for naps and bedtime2. This suggestion is because parents used to place newborns on their stomachs for sleep, and many newborns died from SIDS. We also don’t recommend side sleeping and using crib positioners since babies can easily roll onto their tummies.

Once your baby is rolling proficiently in both directions, you can continue to place them on their backs to sleep. However, don’t worry if they roll onto their stomach during the night once they can move from stomach to back on their own. It’s also important to stop swaddling before your baby learns to roll over because their arms are constricted in a swaddle, so they won’t be able to roll themselves from their stomach to their back.

Additional Considerations

  • Place the crib mattress at the appropriate level: As your baby grows, it’s important to lower the crib. You’ll want to start lowering it by one notch once they’re sitting up, and it should be in its lowest position when your toddler can pull up on their own. Lowering the crib mattress helps reduce the risk that your child will climb or fall out of their crib.
  • Choose the placement of the crib carefully: It’s important that the crib is away from any artwork, hanging cords or blinds, electrical outlets, or any other objects that could be reached once your baby is mobile.
  • Baby-proof the room: Babies learn to climb out of their cribs long before most parents think. Be proactive and baby-proof ahead of time. Examples of baby-proofing are removing breakable objects and covering outlets.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I keep my baby warm without a blanket?

We recommend layering the baby’s clothes or using a swaddle or sleep sack to keep your baby warm without a blanket. Swaddles are an excellent choice for newborns, and as your baby grows and learns to roll over, you can switch to using a sleep sack where their arms are free.

When can a baby sleep with a stuffed animal?

Your baby should only sleep with stuffed animals once they are at least one year old.2 However, if you prefer to be even more cautious, wait to introduce stuffed animals at night until your child moves from a crib to a traditional bed.

When can babies sleep with a pillow?

Like stuffed animals, your child shouldn’t use a pillow until they are at least one year old.2 Again, to err on the side of caution, we suggest your child not use a pillow until they’ve moved into a bed.

Final Words of Advice

Learning all of the rules about your baby’s safety and sleep can be overwhelming and scary. Although every person parents their child differently, it is vital to consider the safety risks associated with some sleep accessories.

While you may want your baby snuggled up and cozy in a blanket, it’s better to wait until your baby is at least one year old to introduce a blanket into their bedtime routine. In the meantime, swaddles and sleep sacks are a great way to keep your baby warm and comfortable while they sleep. If you still feel unsure, though, we advise consulting with your pediatrician for additional guidance.

More Reading:

Emma Cronan

Emma Cronan


About Author

Emma is an Editorial Intern for Sleep Advisor. She collaborates with the editor and staff writers to come up with article ideas, create article outlines, and write for the website.

Combination Sleeper


  1. “Recommendations Revised To Prevent Infant Deaths from Soft Bedding”. United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. 
  2. “Tips for Keeping Infants Safe During Sleep From the American Academy of Pediatrics”. American Academy of Pediatrics. Webpage accessed July 24, 2024. 
  3. “Sudden Unexpected Infant Death and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last modified March 8, 2024. 
  4. “What causes SIDS?”. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Last modified January 31, 2017. 
  5. “Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)”. Nemours Kids Health. Last modified July 2022. 
  6. “About SUID and SIDS”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Webpage accessed March 28, 2024. 
  7. “Ways to Reduce Baby’s Risk”. Safe to Sleep (NICHD). Webpage accessed March 28, 2024. 
  8. Moon, Rachel Y., M.D., Glassy, Danette, M.D. “Swaddling: Is it Safe for Your Baby?” (from the American Academy of Pediatrics). Webpage accessed March 28, 2024. 
  9. “How to safely swaddle a baby”. UC Davis Health Children’s Hospital. Webpage accessed March 28, 2024.
  10. “Are Sleep Sacks Safe for Babies?”. Cleveland Clinic. Webpage accessed March 28, 2024. 
  11. “Transitional Objects: Security Blankets & Beyond”. (from the American Academy of Pediatrics). Webpage accessed March 28, 2024. 
  12. “First with Kids: Covering Your Transitional Object Concerns”. University of Vermont Health Network. Webpage accessed March 28, 2024. 
  13. “Safe Sleep Environment for Baby”. Safe to Sleep (NICHD). Webpage accessed March 28, 2024. 
  14. Smith, Ryan W., Colpitts, Melanie. “Pacifiers and the reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome”. National Library of Medicine.