When the temperature starts to drop, one of the first things adults do is reach for a nice cozy blanket.
While you might be tempted to do the same for your little one, this can be a serious mistake as putting a blanket in your baby’s crib or bassinet before they reach a certain age can be a suffocation hazard.
According to the AAP, it is not safe for babies under 12 months of age to sleep with blankets.
So if blankets are off the cards, how else can you keep your baby warm at night in cold house?
Let’s take a look.
When Can Babies Sleep With Blankets?
For safety reasons the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend you do not put any soft bedding in your newborn or infant’s crib until your baby is at least 12 months of age.
This not only includes blankets, but also pillows, bumper pads, stuffed animals or any products that attach to the side of the crib.
The AAP’s recommendation comes down to reducing the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), the risk of which falls dramatically after your baby reaches 12 months.
However, it is still important to follow safe sleep guidelines even after your baby turns one, such as not using thick heavy blankets (more on this later).
How Can I Make Sure My Baby Is Warm Without a Blanket?
So now you know it’s not safe to use blankets in your baby’s bassinet or crib, how else can you keep your little one warm in winter?
Adding layers rather than a blanket is a great way to give your baby or toddler some extra warmth when sleeping.
For example, you could dress your baby in a vest underneath their onesie to keep them warm on chilly winter nights.
Pajamas are also an excellent way to stop your baby getting cold, particularly as you can buy ones with different TOG ratings. and because footed pajamas can cover your baby’s feet.
If TOG ratings are new to you, these are a standardized measurement of how warm or insulated a garment is.
The key thing to remember is that the higher the TOG rating, the warmer the item will keep your baby (for example, you’ll probably want a 0.5 TOG in summer, but a 3.5 TOG rating during the coldest winter nights).
Wearable Sleep Garments
Wearable sleep garments are pretty much exactly what you’d expect given their name.
These include swaddle sacks and sleep sacks, which are designed to be “worn” by your baby to keep them the correct temperature all night, however much they move around their crib.
Sleep sacks keep your baby’s torso, legs and feet enclosed within the sack, and can be safely used for newborns, older babies and toddlers.
They are usually made from cotton, are safest when sleeveless to avoid excess fabric which can restrict movement or trap your baby’s arm.
When choosing the correct sized sleep sack for your baby, it’s very important to ensure the fabric of the sleep sack cannot go over your baby’s head, because this could be a suffocation risk.
Consistent Room Temperature
While this may be challenging to implement in practice, you may be interested to know that the ideal temperature for a baby’s room is 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit (all year round).
If you are able to achieve this temperature in winter as well as summer, then you won’t need to worry as much about how to keep your baby warm in the colder months.
However, because achieving this temperature in winter can be difficult or very expensive if it requires the heating to be on all night, for many parents adding layers or using higher TOG sleep sacks is a more suitable option.
Safe Sleep Tips
Follow The ABC’s Of Safe Sleep
- Alone: Your baby should always sleep on their own sleep surface.
- Back: Your baby should sleep on their back for every sleep. Don’t move your baby if they roll over to their front, but do put them down on their back for every sleep until they are 12 months old.
- Crib: Until your baby is 12 months old their crib or bassinet should be empty, which means no pillows, blankets, loveys or soft toys. Pacifiers are ok though, and they can even reduce the risk of SIDS.
Firm Mattress That Fits Well
The mattress in your baby’s bassinet or crib should be thin and firm, fit the crib perfectly, and you should always use sheets (ideally fitted).
A thicker mattress many be a suffocation hazard if your baby sinks into the mattress head first.
Similarly, a harder mattress is safer than a soft one because it offers more resistance if your baby finds themselves in a head down position.
Same Room As You
For at least the first 6 months the AAP recommends that your baby sleeps in the same room as you.
Room sharing is recommended by the AAP because it can reduce the risk of SIDS by a much as 50% and because it’s safer than bed sharing (more on this below).
As an added bonus, sharing a room with your baby will make feeding, comforting and watching your baby much easier too.
Your baby should always sleep in their own bassinet or crib, and never in the same bed as an adult to reduce the chances of suffocation, strangulation and SIDS.
Adult beds are soft and have bedding and pillows which which can easily suffocate a baby should they end up on top of a baby’s face.
Choose Blankets Wisely
Even when your baby is ready to have a blanket in their crib (when they are at least 12 months old), you should choose the type of blanket wisely.
Smaller blankets pose less of a suffocation risk, as do ones that are made with lighter, breathable materials (think muslin or linen).
You should also avoid anything with strings or ribbons which could potentially be a choking or strangulation hazard.
What Are The Signs That A Baby Is Cold At Night?
You might be tempted to check if your baby is cold when sleeping by feeling their hands and feet.
But this isn’t the most reliable way, because most babies naturally have cold hands due to their developing and immature circulatory system.
The best way to measure your baby’s temperature without a thermometer is by feeling the back of their neck or tummy.
If the skin is cool and dry to touch, your baby’s temperature is fine.
But if the skin doesn’t feel warm at all, it’s a sign your baby is cold at night, so you probably need to add another layer (or two) and / or increase the temperature of their room.
Other signs which indicate your baby is too cold at night include a pale face, blue lips, being overly fussy and being uninterested or less interested in feeding compared to usual.