Shopping for your nursery is a true joy of pregnancy. I spent many hours poring over Land of Nod and Pottery Barn catalogues, and I wanted my baby's room to be cute, safe, and cozy. Let's be honest, when it comes to choosing sheets, there are few fabrics cozier than flannel. As cooler temperatures near, many people are switching their children's bedding to the warm fabric, but can babies sleep on flannel sheets? Will they get too hot? Are the sheets breathable?
When it comes to your baby's safety and comfort, you don't want to take any chances. In recent years, the rules on bedding have really changed. Gone are the days where you'd pick out the perfect bumper, quilt, and crib skirt and start decorating the nursery. Bumpers are now extinct, crib quilts are for decoration only, and most cribs are lower to the ground, eliminating the need or desire for a skirt. Heck, some parents — including myself — don't even buy a crib set. Instead, they buy a crap ton of sheets, breathable mattress pads, and wearable blankets and call it a (hopefully sleep-filled) night.
It's just easier to do that, knowing how many sheets you'll likely go through each week between spitting up, diaper blow outs, drool rings, and leaking, than it is to worry about coordinating tartan patterns or the Noah's Ark designs that were so popular in the 90s. The 90s gave us many great things like grunge rock and Buffy, but baby bedding was universally hideous.
What your baby sleeps with and on is extremely important though. According to the Consumer Safety and Protection Coalition (CPSC), babies should be placed to sleep only in breathable bedding, with no crib bumper, pillow, or quilt. If they're given a blanket, it should be breathable, and sleep sacks are the safest. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended that babies sleep on a firm surface in the same room with you for ideally the first year of life.
The AAP also suggested the use of a wearable blanket as opposed to a loose blanket that may pose a risk of suffocation or strangulation in the crib with the baby. When my babies were little, I put them in the sleeper suits or warm footie pajamas and they just loved them. In fact, they loved them so much, that they developed a positive aversion to blankets, and to this day, refuse to sleep with a blanket on top of them if they can help it. (Yet they do hide under huge blankets to play Roblox on their iPads, and it makes no sense to me.)
There's actually very little literature about the sheets you should use, apart from the fact that they should be tightly fitting and breathable. Is flannel really breathable? Does it stretch out? Most of the flannel crib sheets I perused online are made out of 100 percent cotton, combed to feather softness. While they're thicker and warmer than traditional sheets, they're completely breathable. (To be completely honest, I just ran into my kids' room and tried to breathe through one of their flannel sheets. Totally breathable, but still, it probably looked weird. Thank goodness I'm alone.)
If you're worried about your baby overheating, consider the ambient temperature of the room. According to Britain's National Health Service, the ideal temperature for a baby's room is between 62 and 68 degrees. That may seem pretty chilly to you, but it helps prevent SIDS by not promoting overheating. The website noted that a good rule of thumb is to dress your baby to a point where you would feel comfortable, and then add one more light layer. If they're warm enough, their core should feel warm to the touch, and their toes should be slightly cooler. If that requires a flannel sheet, it's fine. If they prefer something lighter, that's also alright. Just make sure it's breathable and snug, so no stretchy microfleece crib sheets for your littlest babies. They don't breathe, which is both a heating and suffocation hazard for little ones.
Also, buy a lot of sheets, regardless of fabric choice. You'll need them — trust me.
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