According to this study, about fifty-five percent of babies in America sleep with unsafe bedding.
As a new parent or caregiver, you’ve likely accumulated a mountain of snuggly blankets and adorable stuffed animals. It’s almost impossible to resist the urge to dress up your baby's crib with all things soft and furry!
The time will come when you can load up the crib with blankets and pillows. But for now, you need to be very careful.
One primary contributing factors to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is soft and fluffy bedding. Studies have shown that soft bedding can increase the risk of SIDS by 2-3 times.
Babies are at the highest risk of SIDS between 2 months and 4 months. The risk of SIDS goes steadily down after 4 months until 12 months when the risk of SIDS becomes negligible. SIDS is brought on by a number of different contributing factors. Some of these factors are genetic and out of your control. Others are environmental and within your control.
At 12 months, healthy babies are able to maneuver fairly well in the crib and are able to re-adjust if a blanket or a stuffed animal is restricting breathing. Any younger, and it’s easy for a baby to roll onto a soft blanket, which can block their airway. When our bodies are presented with a lack of oxygen, our natural response is to wake up and adjust. If a baby is unable to rouse and adjust due to blankets or other objects in their crib, SIDS becomes a risk.
Refrain from tucking blankets and stuffed animals into your young baby's crib until they reach 12 months of age, this will lower your baby's risk of SIDS.
If you'd like to learn more about the MOST important things you can actively do today to help prevent SIDS, check out this free ebook.
What constitutes “soft bedding?”
Soft bedding can include (but isn’t limited to) the following:
- Stuffed animals
- Loose fitted sheets
- Light blankets
- Heavy blankets
- Sleeping wedges
- Crib bumpers
Is Swaddling Safe?
If you are swaddling an infant, always position them on his or her back. Check out our post on proper sleeping positions for more info about the supine sleep position.
A properly swaddled baby doesn’t present a SIDS risk because of the position of the blanket. It’s ok to swaddle but you need to ensure it’s done correctly. Here’s a helpful video on swaddling. If your baby begins to break out of the swaddle on a regular basis then we recommend that you stop swaddling. The loose blankets can present a SIDS hazard. Most babies stop requiring a swaddle around 3-4 months.
Will my baby be cold if I don’t let him sleep with a blanket?
Your baby doesn’t need a snuggly blanket for warmth. In fact, the perfect room temperature for your baby may be lower than you think. Check out this post on optimal room temperatures for babies to find out more.
What can I use as an alternative to soft bedding?
Instead of soft bedding, you can keep your little one at the right temperature by using:
- Sleep Sacks / wearable blanket - a wearable blanket designed to keep babies warm while reducing the risk of SIDS. Get a sleep sack here.
- Sleepers - a soft, one-piece outfit designed to keep babies warm while sleeping. You can find sleepers at almost any store that sells baby clothing.
When can babies have pillows and blankets?
- 0-4 months - no blankets or soft bedding.
- 4-12 months - no blankets or soft bedding.
- 12+ months - it’s snuggle time!