Are you helping your baby sleep comfortably or putting her at risk?
The dos and don’ts of parenting may appear overwhelming to new parents. But, it is essential to be knowledgeable about them to help you keep your baby safe. One of the questions parents have is when is it safe for babies to sleep with pillows and blankets?
In this article, we address when parents can introduce pillow and blankets to their child, the risks you should be aware of and other safe sleeping tips to keep in mind.
When can babies sleep with pillows and blankets?
It is natural for a new parent to feel that overwhelming need to want to make sure their newborn sleeps comfortably. And apart from eating, pooping and crying, sleeping is what newborns spend the bulk of their time actually doing. This need to keep the baby comfortable is why parents may want to introduce a pillow and blanket too soon.
According to Elizabeth Murray, M.D., a Pediatric emergency physician and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Very few babies in those one-to-two years of life are bothered by not having a pillow or a blanket.” So if your concern is about your baby experiencing discomfort while she sleeps, worry no more. You can rest assured that she’s fine.
Still, the question of when to introduce your child to a pillow and a blanket remains. Based on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) safe sleep guidelines, your baby should sleep on a flat surface free of pillows and blankets until age one. To be safer still, they recommend that you hold off until the baby is between 18 months to 3 years old. In fact, you can even hold off until your child becomes interested in one. That said, if you do decide to introduce a pillow when the time comes, go for the small and firm toddler pillow. Same goes for blankets. Start with ones that are small, thin and light. In the meantime, before your baby reaches the age suitable for a blanket, the AAP recommends a wearable blanket to keep her warm.
What are the risks of introducing my child to a pillow and blanket too soon?
If introduced too soon, pillows and blankets pose the following risks to your baby:
Pillows actually do nothing to help your child sleep well. If anything, it only puts your child’s life in danger, because her head may sink into the soft pillow, causing it to lean in and block the child’s nostrils.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
SIDS is one of the biggest risks involved when a child is introduced to a pillow and blanket too soon. SIDS is the unexpected and unexplained death of an infant during sleep. Pillows and blankets increase the chances of SIDS, according to AAP.
Infant pillows are known to be fluffy instead of flat. In the long time your baby sleeps, the position of her head on the pillow may end up causing a sprain to the neck.
If you look at some infant pillows closely, you’d notice that their fancy covers are made of fabrics that are not cotton. As your baby sleeps with her head on the pillow, she may begin to overheat beneath her head. This could cause her body temperature to become unstable.
Other safe sleeping tips to keep in mind
safe sleeping tips for babies
In as much as it is essential to know when babies can sleep with blankets and pillows, it is also important to generally provide a safe sleeping environment for your child. Below are some general safety tips.
No crib bumpers:
Crib bumpers are those cute pads used to keep babies from bumping their heads. Cute as they may be, they are unsafe because your child may roll and press her face against one of those. This can lead to suffocation and death.
No sleep positioners:
Infant sleep positioners are those flat mats that have wedges with bolsters on the side. It may seem like a wonderful way to keep your baby on her back, but it’s unsafe for infants. Sleep positioners increase the chances of your baby suffocating.
Keep your child’s crib in your bedroom
For the first six months of your child’s life, experts recommend you keep her crib in your bedroom. This isn’t the same thing as sharing the same bed with the baby. In fact, experts have warned against sleeping on the same bed with your baby, especially if you’ve smoked or have slept less than an hour in the last 24 hours.
Avoid dressing your child in too many layers of clothes so that she doesn’t overheat. If you want to know if your baby is too warm or cold, check for changes in her breathing and the back of her neck to see if she’s sweaty or cold.
Stomach and side sleeping
At some point, your baby will begin to roll onto her stomach or to the side during or before sleeping. This is okay as long as she has the strength to roll herself back into her previous position. However, the AAP recommends that you continue to lay her on her back when you put her in her crib.
Stop wrapping your child when you notice that she is showing signs of rolling. The reason for this is that she may need her hands when she wants to roll. The AAP recommends that you stop wrapping your baby around two months of age.
As you get accustomed to caring for your little one, ask your doctor if you find anything confusing. there’s absolutely no shame in talking to your doctor first. It doesn’t matter if you feel your question seems insignificant. It is better to be safe than sorry.