Baby Crib Safety and Blankets: Is It Actually Dangerous

When it comes to babies - many new parents can’t help but think that placing cute stuffed animals next to them as they sleep is simply adorable. While it can be worthy of a multitude of childhood photos - it can actually be a bit dangerous. 

Another concern many parents have is their baby being too cold at night. You might ask yourself a very important question:

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Why is it dangerous to put a blanket in a crib? 

The fact is, it isn’t dangerous inherently. It can become a danger to the child while they are sleeping. In fact, everything from a blanket, soft bedding, toys, baby bumbers, and more can prove hazardous to your child. 

According to the American Academy of pediatrics safe sleep recommendations - 3500 infants die each year in the United States from sleep related deaths. SIDS (sudden infanty death syndrome) is a very real thing and we need to do what we can to help prevent it. 

They provide some safe sleep recommendations including ensuring your baby sleeps in the supine (back) position until their first year. Side sleeping is not at all safe and not recommended. 

The baby mattress you use should also be firm and only covered by a fitted sheet. 

Soft toys, and objects like comforters, loose bedding, plushies, and stuffed animals can actually cover a newborn’s mouth and nose and prevent them from breathing. Unfortunately, they simply don’t have the muscle memory needed to be able to diagnose their issue and just move the toy out of the way. I know this news can upset some parents - but it’s the truth. 

If you’re worried about your child getting cold - it is better to:

Have Your Newborn Wear Extra Clothing

While they are less than 1 year old - you should not be using any blankets while they sleep. Instead consider extra layers or sleeping sacks. 

In general though - your newborn is capable of overheating and a good rule of thumb is to ensure that they wear no more than an extra layer that an adult might consider wearing. 

By the time your child is at 12 months old they may be able to sleep properly with a blanket. However, you should always consult your pediatrician before making this decision. You can just ask them if it is safe for your child to sleep with a blanket. 

What about Swaddling?

Unfortunately, swaddle blankets can come loose while the baby sleeps and now it becomes a suffocation danger for your child. In general - while swaddles can be useful to help your baby sleep initially - as soon as they are mobile it’s going to be very risky keeping them in a swaddle while they sleep. 

Here’s a list of do’s and don’t when it comes to objects in the crib. 

Do:

  • Place your baby flat on their back on a firm mattress. Ensure that you only use the mattress set for your crib dimensions. The mattress should have no space between the mattress itself and the frame of your crib - and it should not warp once you place a fitted sheet on it. 
  • Place your baby in their own crib or bassinet. Co-sleeping by bedsharing can be dangerous. In fact, it is rate as one of the most common causes of death among 3 month old. You can keep the crib close to your bed so you can pick them up and put them down easily. Since our mother was 4 feet 10 inches tall - we needed a short crib to ensure this was easily. 
  • Keep the room at a reasonable temperature. This is probably obvious - but if your baby is sweating or the skin feels flush - this may be a sign of overheating. 
  • Keep the crib away from windows. Babies in approaching toddler age (12-24 months) can surprise you with their mobility. Open windows are hazardous and you’ll want to ensure that you’ve childproofed your windows
  • Do dress your baby in layers. You’ll want to avoid having choking hazards like ties or strings on their PJ’s.

Don’t:

  • Don’t allow window cords or electric wires to be within reach. Babies can choke on these hazards or get tangled in it. 
  • Don’t leave loose bedding or blankets in the crib. These objects can cover the nose and mouth of your newborn and can work their way around their head. They don’t have the situational awareness yet to remove them. 
  • Don’t use cribs with drop rails. Portable bed rails are no longer illegal to be manufactured, sold, and even donated. Per the CPSC, these cribs are no longer allowed. This is for several reasons mostly being that there are too many ways for the drop rail to fail and then become dangerous for the baby.

Conclusion: Check With Your Pediatrician

Blankets might be okay for children over 12 months old. When in doubt you can ask your pediatrician. Some pediatricians might recommend a lightweight blanket that your child can easily find their way out of in case it does end up over their head. In general, the cautionary steps you take during their first year of life will help ensure that 

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