Babies can use wearable blankets from birth or as soon as you stop swaddling your baby. Your baby should not use loose blankets until they are at least a year old, however, you should not expect your child to keep a blanket on them for warmth while sleeping until at least 3-4 years old.
Let’s dig deeper about your baby and the use of blankets to ensure you keep your baby safe and warm.
Babies and Wearable Blankets
Once you transition away from swaddling, the best and safest way to put a blanket on your baby is to use a wearable blanket. This way, the blanket can’t come off as your baby sleeps, rolls around, or even stands up. Wearable blankets come in many different sizes from newborn to toddler sizes. You can even get size 3T-5T wearable blankets that allow your preschooler to walk around.
Usually, if you use a wearable blanket, you only need to put your baby in a onesie and pajamas underneath. You don’t want him or her to overheat, so don’t put on too many layers. Your climate as well as the current season may become a factor as well. You may want to check your baby’s sleeping bag’s TOG rating to make sure you have the room temperature correct with the wearable blanket you plan to use. For warmer temperatures, you may want to consider a Muslin sleep sack. Alternatively, using a 4-season Merino Wool wearable blanket would let you avoid needing to buy multiple blankets for different seasons. This takes the worry away that you will use the wrong blanket for your baby and prevents overheating.
Babies and Loose Blankets
As a safety precaution, The AAP recommends that you avoid loose bedding and blankets for the first year. This is, of course, because your baby may pull the blanket over his or her head and become entangled and unable to take it off. This can lead to accidental suffocation. So, it is strongly recommended that you not use a loose blanket to cover up your baby until at least a year old. Keep in mind, however, that most children won’t keep a blanket on all night until they are at least 3 years old unless they happen to be very still sleepers. Most children are active sleepers, however, so unless you have your room temperature set at a comfortable setting even without a blanket, continue to use a wearable blanket until your child is old enough to keep it on.
Babies and Blankets as a Comfort Item or Lovey
What about a small blanket? Can you give your baby a small blanket to hold on to as a security blanket?
Again, The AAP strongly recommends that you avoid any loose objects at all in the crib until at least one year old. Some babies and toddlers do benefit from a comfort item, or baby lovey. So, when you’re comfortable giving your baby a lovey, you can consider a small blanket that isn’t used for warmth but as an attachment object.
Attachment objects allow your baby or toddler to seek it out for comfort, whether at home or while traveling. Many items can become a lovey such as a toothbrush, mommy’s shirt, a car, a book, and pacifiers often become attachment objects. A security blanket is the most commonly known lovey. Depending on your age, you may remember The Peanuts character, Linus, who clutched his security blanket.
A popular type of lovey blanket is one with tags, so if you have a tactile baby, he or she can touch the tags and my son even liked to put his fingers through the loops. There are many different variations of these blankets, some with teethers and crinkle noises for playtime. Of course, if you are trying to encourage sleep, consider a quieter version like this Taggies blanket.
Other Blanket Safety Considerations
Whether you are using a baby blanket for warmth or comfort or both, do keep safety in mind. We don’t want blankets that are coming apart as they can be a choking hazard. We don’t want blankets with pieces that can fall off like a button or similar. The blanket should not present a suffocation hazard, so even if you have a baby who is over a year old, consider how large the blanket is and the size of your child.
TIP: Once you do find a blanket that you and your child loves, consider buying a second one that can be used during washes, in case of loss, or to lengthen use due to wear and tear! Having a backup can be even more important if your baby goes to daycare or takes their blanket with them often. There’s nothing worse than getting to bedtime and realizing you don’t have your baby’s favorite blankie!