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  • When Can Babies Start Sleeping with Blankets?

    12 min read

    baby with blanket on head

    When Can Babies Start Sleeping with Blankets?

    Babies need warmth.

    Newborn babies spend most of their time feeding and sleeping and are usually wrapped up or swaddled in a baby blanket, but this is different to sleeping with a loose blanket covering them.  Because our core body temperature drops when we sleep, covering ourselves with blankets or duvets is essential to creating optimal sleep temperature for baby.

    Swaddling with a baby blanket

    Babies are a little different to grown-ups as they lose most of their body heat through their heads, and this will explain why babies are always seen wearing warm knitted caps. Being swaddled resembles being warm and snug in mom's womb, and this puts babies at ease, allowing them to enjoy a few hours of quality sleep. But because their motor skills have not yet developed, babies are unable to coordinate any of their limb movements; however, they are able to trash their arms around and kick their legs.

    Swaddling keeps the baby's arms and legs in a secure, comfortable position so they cannot accidentally pull the blanket over their face, which may lead to suffocation. Babies are normally swaddled for the first few months of life, but as they grow and develop, they will begin resisting being swaddled.

    Loose coverings like sheets or blankets over a baby's body may accidentally be drawn over their face and may cause them to have difficulty breathing. Swaddling keeps the baby's arms and legs in a secure, comfortable position, reducing the risk of suffocation.

    baby infant held by mother and father

    Breathing and motor skills

    Babies have the basic breathing technique mastered from their first breath, but if wind is blown into their face, they will stop breathing for a split second as they try and relate to this new sensation. If a baby's breathing is disrupted in any way, it can have serious consequences as they lack the motor skills to either move their head away or push the obstruction away from their mouth and nose. 

    The risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is greatly increased from the time your baby is not swaddled to about one year old. It is during this time that your baby is developing its basic motor skills.

    Once your baby can move their body and coordinate their hand, arm, and leg movements which is usually younger than a year old, they still need to understand and learn about the dangers of obstructions to their breathing which does take some time. Not all babies develop at the same pace, and at times parents need to promote motor skill development in their children.

    a baby is sleeping in baby bed

    Keeping your baby warm

    So, if you can no longer swaddle your baby and using blankets is considered too dangerous in their first year, what do you do? Keeping your little one warm is essential for quality sleep, and their cot should have absolutely nothing in it except a breathable baby mattress and a fitted sheet.

    It may sound uncaring, but the safest sleep environment for your baby is a bare cot only fitted with a mattress and fitted sheet. Any other items like loose linen, plush toys, bumpers, pillows, positioners, or wedges can be a potential risk to your baby. If you are concerned about SIDS, as any parent would be, then it's best to have a discussion with your paediatrician before you invest in any products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS as much of what is advertised has not been medically proved as fact.

    Their sleep environment must not present any breathing hazards, and it's for this reason that co-sleeping with your baby in the same bed is a definite no-no.

    As a caring and concerned mother, you will have your little one sleep in your room for the first year. You should try and regulate the heat in your room to a cool but comfortable setting, and you must also dress your baby correctly for sleep. Ideally, you should dress your baby in one more layer of clothing than you sleep in. Your baby's sleep clothes should be loose but not so that the clothing can shift and cover their face when they sleep.

    During winter months or in cold climates, you may have to dress your baby in more layers of clothing or use a baby sleeping sack. In summer months or hot climates, a vest and diaper may be enough, but a thin cotton onesie will work just as well.

    You must keep an eye on your little ones to ensure they are warm enough, but it's important that they do not overheat, which is another risk factor for SIDS. You can tell if your baby is getting too hot by noticing that their hair or the back of their neck is damp from sweat and there might be flushed cheeks and rapid breathing. You may even pick up that your little one has developed a heat rash. To remedy overheating, simply remove a layer of clothing but be sure that your baby is not ill and has a fever. Confirm their temperature on the spot and also once your little one has cooled down a little.

    Introducing blankets to your little one

    At about one year old, you can consider allowing your little one to sleep with a blanket. Here again, a concerned mother will look at the size of the blanket, its thickness and fabric type, as well as the edging of the blanket. These factors are all important as they have to do with the general wellbeing of your little one.

    A large blanket can cause suffocation, so the size should be just big enough to cover your little one as a smaller blanket is less likely to be a breathing hazard. A good fabric choice for your first baby sleep blanket would be muslin. Babies can breathe through fabric like muslin, but thick quilted blankets do pose a breathing risk. The edge of the blanket shouldn't have any long tassels or ribbons attached as these present a choking hazard.

    You child lying on a basotho heritage African blanket

    As far as weighted blankets are concerned, they are not recommended for infants but are fine for older children and adults with sensory problems. Weighted blankets should be prescribed by a medical doctor.

    Not every baby will be ready to sleep under a blanket at twelve months old. Some babies are very active when they sleep and will roll, toss, and turn while asleep. In cases like this, the baby sleep blanket will hardly be able to keep an active baby covered and warm, so it's best to wait a little longer before you try the blanket again.

    When your little one is ready to sleep under a blanket, be sure to have it covering them no higher than chest level and ensure, it is tucked in around the cot mattress. Your little one will still be able to turn when they sleep but will not be able to pull the blanket over their head.

    Mothers know best; after all, you are the one making sure that your little one has a peaceful, comfortable sleep during the day and at night. You will ultimately be the one to decide on when it's best to begin using a sleeping blanket for your baby. You may want to try a test run during a daytime nap so you can observe how your little one sleeps with a blanket. If you're happy, then using the blanket at night should be fine as well. At least you will have peace of mind and not have a sleepless night worrying about your bundle of joy sleeping under a blanket.

    A word about SIDS

    SIDS, as the name suggests, is the sudden death of an infant while asleep, but medical professionals have not been able to pinpoint the actual cause. However, many experts believe it stems from an "immature arousal centre" that prevents infants from waking up when they have problems breathing normally.

    The reasons why babies will not be able to breathe normally are numerous, so the condition cannot be linked to a specific cause. Having said this, it is good practice to eliminate anything that will be a risk to your baby's breathing. The older babies get and the more they develop, the less the risk of SIDS becomes.

    Infant child sleeping in a crib

    Babies and blankets

    Baby blankets are a common gift at baby showers and at the birth of your little one.

    Soon after your baby is born, a thin baby blanket is used to wrap your little one up.

    Your baby will relate to a blanket as a form of comfort, and rightly so. How many toddlers do you know that have a favourite "blankie"? A lot, I can imagine. Blankets keep us warm and feeling secure, so even if your little one may not sleep under a blanket for the first year or so, it comes back to day one, where the warmth and comfort of mom's womb were replaced with a soft blanket.

    A blanket is basically a covering that is used to stay warm, and in a baby's first year of life, they are dressed warmly for sleep. The fabric used to make their warm sleep clothing is also used to make blankets, so the coverage differs in design and fit, but the fabric and purpose remain the same.

    The relationship we have with blankets lasts our whole lives, and each of us secretly has a favorite blanket that we have fond memories about. We match blankets to our needs, and because people are so different from each other, the variety of blankets has grown to cater for every need.

    young girl and mother under an African blanket

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    FAQ - The Questions You want Answered

    an a baby breathe through a muslin blanket?

    No, it is unsafe for a baby to breathe through a muslin blanket.

    Muslin blankets are made of breathable material but not designed or tested for use as a respiratory barrier.

    Covering a baby's face with any fabric can increase the risk of suffocation and harm the baby's health and safety.

    If you are concerned about your baby's breathing or have questions about safe sleep practices, it is always best to consult a healthcare provider.

    They can provide personalized advice based on your baby's needs and help you ensure that your baby is sleeping safely and soundly.

    Is muslin fabric breathable?

    Yes, muslin fabric is known for its breathability.

    It is a lightweight, plain-weave, loosely woven cotton fabric, allowing air to circulate easily.

    This makes muslin fabric ideal for clothing, blankets, and other items that need to be breathable and comfortable.

    Muslin fabric is often used for baby products because it is soft, gentle on the skin, and provides good ventilation.

    It is also commonly used in warm climates because it keeps the body cool by allowing air to flow freely through the fabric.

    However, it is important to note that muslin fabric can vary in weight and weave, so not all muslin fabric is created equal in terms of breathability.

    Is muslin more breathable than cotton?

    Muslin fabric is a type of cotton fabric that is known for its breathability, but whether it is more breathable than other types of cotton fabric can depend on various factors, such as the weight, weave, and finishing of the fabric.

    In general, muslin fabric is considered more breathable than heavier cotton fabrics such as denim or canvas.

    It is a lightweight fabric that is loosely woven, which allows air to circulate easily through the fabric.

    This makes muslin fabric ideal for use in hot and humid climates, as it can help keep the body cool by allowing air to flow freely.

    However, there are also many other types of cotton fabrics that are known for their breathability, such as voile, gauze, and lawn.

    So whether muslin is more breathable than other cotton fabrics can depend on the specific type of fabric being compared.

    Are muslin blankets safe for sleep

    Muslin blankets can be safe for sleep if used appropriately and by safe sleep practices.

    Muslin fabric is lightweight and breathable, making it a good choice for baby blankets. However, it is essential to follow safe sleep guidelines when using any baby blanket or bedding.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies be placed on their backs to sleep on a firm, flat surface free of soft objects, including blankets, pillows, and toys.

    This reduces the risk of suffocation, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and other sleep-related accidents.

    If you choose to use a muslin blanket for your baby, it is important to ensure that it is lightweight, breathable, and not too thick.

    You should also avoid using a too-large blanket, which can increase the risk of suffocation. It is best to swaddle your baby in a way that allows for good airflow and movement of their limbs.

    In summary, muslin blankets can be safe for sleep if used appropriately and by safe sleep guidelines.

     Always consult your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns about safe sleep practices for your baby.

    What is the purpose of muslin blankets?

    Muslin blankets have a variety of purposes and are used for many different applications.

    Some common uses for muslin blankets include:

    1. Swaddling: Muslin blankets are often used for swaddling babies, as they are lightweight and breathable, which can help keep the baby feeling comfortable and secure.
    2. Nursing cover: Muslin blankets can provide privacy and protection for nursing mothers and their babies.
    3. Burp cloth: Muslin blankets are also commonly used as burp cloths, as they are soft and absorbent.
    4. Sun protection: Muslin blankets can be used as a sunshade to protect babies from the sun while out and about.
    5. Playtime: Muslin blankets can be a soft and comfortable surface for babies to lie on during playtime.
    6. Cleaning: Muslin blankets are
    7. Helpful in wiping up spills or messes, as they are absorbent and easy to clean.

    Muslin blankets are versatile and useful for various purposes, particularly for babies and young children.

    What is so great about muslin blankets?

    Muslin blankets are popular for a variety of reasons, and here are some of the reasons why muslin blankets are great:

    1. Breathability: Muslin blankets are lightweight and breathable, making them ideal for swaddling babies or using them as a blanket during warmer months. The open weave allows for airflow and keeps the baby feeling comfortable.
    2. Softness: Muslin fabric is typically made from 100% cotton, which makes it soft and gentle on a baby's delicate skin. It becomes softer with each wash and can even improve in texture.
    3. Versatility: Muslin blankets can be used for many purposes, such as swaddling, nursing cover, burp cloth, sun protection, and playtime. They can also be used as scarves, wraps, or light blankets for adults.
    4. Durability: Muslin fabric is typically durable and can withstand frequent washing and use. It is also easy to care for and becomes softer with each wash.
    5. Style: Muslin blankets come in various colors and prints, making them a stylish addition to any nursery or diaper bag.

    Overall, muslin blankets are popular for parents because they are versatile, breathable, soft, and durable.

    They provide comfort and convenience for babies and adults, making them a great choice for any family.

    Does muslin keep you cool?

    Muslin is a lightweight, breathable cotton fabric often used to make summer clothing, bedding, and curtains.

    Due to its lightweight and breathable nature, muslin is an excellent fabric to keep you cool during hot weather.

    Muslin allows air to circulate freely around your body, which helps to regulate your body temperature and prevent overheating.

     It also absorbs moisture and dries quickly, which can help to keep you dry and comfortable.

    That being said, it's worth noting that the specific temperature-regulating properties of muslin can depend on various factors, such as the thickness and weave of the fabric, as well as the temperature and humidity of your surroundings.

    Nonetheless, muslin is generally considered a good choice for staying cool in hot weather.

    Are muslin blankets good for winter?

    Muslin blankets are typically not the best choice for winter, as they are lightweight and breathable, which makes them better suited for warmer weather.

     In the winter, you want thicker and warmer blankets to help you stay cozy and insulated.

    However, some muslin blankets may have a higher thread count, providing more insulation and warmth than typical muslin fabric.

    Additionally, muslin blankets can be layered with other blankets or used as an extra layer under a thicker blanket to provide added warmth.

    While muslin blankets may not be the best option for cold winter nights on their own, they can still have a place in your bedding collection as a versatile and breathable layer for year-round use.

    How warm are muslin blankets?

    Muslin blankets are typically not designed to be very warm, as they are lightweight and breathable.

    Muslin is a loosely woven cotton fabric with a lower thread count than other types of cotton fabrics, making it very breathable and ideal for use in warm weather.

    While muslin blankets may provide some insulation and warmth, they are not intended to be used as a primary source of warmth in cold weather.

    Instead, muslin blankets are better suited for use as a lightweight layer in warmer weather or as a breathable layer to help regulate body temperature while sleeping.

    That being said, the warmth of a muslin blanket can vary depending on its thickness, weave, and overall quality.

    Some muslin blankets are thicker and have a higher thread count than others, which provides more warmth.

    Nonetheless, if you are looking for a warm and cozy blanket for the winter months, consider a heavier and more insulating material than muslin.

    Are muslin blankets good for summer?

    Yes, muslin blankets are excellent for summer! 

    Muslin is a lightweight, breathable cotton fabric that allows for excellent air circulation, perfect for staying cool during hot weather.

    Muslin blankets are ideal for summer because they are thin and lightweight, so they won't weigh you down or make you feel too hot.

    They are also soft and comfortable, making them an excellent choice for use during sleep or relaxation.

    In addition to being breathable and lightweight, muslin blankets also have the benefit of being very absorbent, which helps to wick away moisture and keep you feeling dry and comfortable in hot and humid weather.

    Overall, muslin blankets are an excellent choice for staying relaxed and comfortable during summer, whether you're using them at home or on the go.

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