Covering your baby’s face with a blanket while they are sleeping can be dangerous and may result in suffocation. It is important to avoid this practice to ensure your baby’s safety.
To avoid tragedy, do not allow babies less than 1 year old to use a blanket while sleeping.
Instead, use swaddles, wearable blankets, or layered clothing for extra warmth if needed.
Dr. Moon of the University of Virginia School of Medicine reminds parents that:
“Babies should always sleep in a crib or bassinet, on their back, without soft toys, pillows, blankets or other bedding.”
Although many parents claim that their babies won’t sleep without a blanket covering their faces and recommend using blankets with holes to reduce the risk of suffocation, this practice is not recommended.
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Why Babies Like To Cover Their Faces With Blankets
Many babies find blankets over their faces comforting, perhaps because it provides a sense of security.
Covering Their Faces While Sleeping
When you hold your little one, he will likely press his face against your skin, and your baby’s cheek will be pressed directly against your chest when you breastfeed.
This is comforting for a baby.
When not being held, your baby may seek comfort in a blanket or stuffed animal.
Your child craves this tactile sensation, so they will seek it out with whatever is close.
The blanket likely smells good or familiar to your baby, and they might enjoy snuggling with something soft and cozy.
Covering Their Faces While Awake
A baby who covers his face while engaged with you might be trying to initiate a game of peek-a-boo or just be in a silly mood.
Babies who cover their faces with blankets or similar objects when around other people might be displaying shyness as they attempt to avoid interaction with someone unfamiliar to them.
Other babies might cover their faces as they explore their world.
They might enjoy seeing everything suddenly becoming dark when they put the blanket on and then bright again when they remove it.
They also might think that if they can’t see you, then you can’t see them either.
Dangers of a Baby Sleeping With Head Under a Blanket
It is dangerous for a baby to sleep with his head under a blanket, and that’s exactly why you should not put a blanket in the crib with your baby.
Whether it’s naptime or bedtime, your baby’s crib or bassinet should be free of blankets, stuffed animals, pillows, and anything else that can get on top of your child’s face.
When your baby gets trapped under a blanket, he will breathe recirculated air that will lead to suffocation.
Your baby can’t just push the blanket away since his motor skills aren’t at that point yet.
He also can’t lift his head to remove the blanket, and that leaves him trapped.
Age When a Baby Can Safely Sleep With a Blanket
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until your child is at least 1 year old before allowing him to sleep with a blanket.
Waiting can reduce the risk of suffocation and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
You should also keep other items out of your child’s crib until the one-year mark.
Safest Blankets for Babies To Use
If you do choose to use a blanket in your child’s crib, some options are safer than others.
Make sure the blanket is not too large, and remember not to let a baby less than 1 year old sleep with a blanket.
- Swaddling Blankets – Swaddle blankets wrap around your baby and latch snugly so they can’t be put on the face. (Find them here.)
- Cellular Blankets – These cotton blankets have holes that allow a chance for airflow. (Find them here.)
- Sleeping Bag Blankets – Baby sleeping bag blankets zip and are snug around your baby so he can’t pull them over his face or kick them off completely. (Find them here.)
Safe Sleeping for Babies (Tips by Age Group)
Your baby is going to sleep a lot during the first few years of life, and you need to make sure they are doing it safely at every stage.
Safe Sleeping for Newborns
Newborns should sleep on their backs in the same room as their parents. However, they should not be in the same bed.
Move the baby’s crib to your room or put a bassinet beside the bed so your baby is close but not in your sleeping space.
Don’t put anything in the crib or bassinet with your baby.
Never smoke where an infant sleeps, and try to keep anyone from smoking in the house since this can increase the risk of SIDS.
Safe Sleeping for Babies 2-12 Months
Keep your baby in your room until the six-month mark if you want to follow professional recommendations, and follow all the rules you would for a newborn.
When your child hits the six-month point, you can move him into his own room.
You still need to keep your child’s crib free of blankets and other items for the first year of life. Put your baby to sleep on his back every night.
Safe Sleeping for Toddlers
During the early months of toddlerhood, your child will probably still be in a crib.
Many parents wait to add pillows and big blankets until their child is around 18 months old or moves to a toddler bed.
However, your baby can sleep on his side or stomach once he makes it to toddlerhood.
As your toddler ages, he will transition to a toddler bed. Lovies, blankets, and small pillows should be safe at this point.
Make sure the bed is low enough to the ground that your child won’t get hurt if he falls.
How To Keep Baby Warm at Night Without Blanket
You don’t need a blanket to keep your baby warm at night. My oldest two children were born in December, and we still avoided blankets.
Footie pajamas are a favorite of most parents because they keep your baby’s entire body warm without putting them at risk of suffocation.
Make sure the footie onesies are the right size for your child, and stock up on them.
You can also swaddle your child to keep him warm and safe.
Though many people perfect swaddling with a blanket, I eagerly bought the Velcro swaddle wraps because I could never secure a regular blanket into a swaddle and make it tight.
Kristy is the mother of four, including identical twins. With a background in education and research, she is constantly learning more about parenting and raising multiples. When she has spare time, she enjoys hiking into the woods with a great book to take a break.