Here's The Deal With Blankets & Your Baby's Bed

by Fiona Tapp

It's not uncommon for a new parent to go a little overboard when preparing their first baby's nursery. I mean, it's difficult to quell your excitement and not rush out to decorate, buying all sorts of things you don't necessarily need. But when it comes to preparing an infant's sleep space, is it safe to have a blanket in a baby's bed? Sure, those cute, colorful patterned sheets, pillows, and ruffled covers are adorable and fun to buy, but cozy and cute shouldn't trump safe and secure.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has produced a safe sleep guide for all new parents, that advises them not to place any loose bedding in baby's crib at all. The guidelines suggest the following when it comes to what you can and cannot put in your baby's sleep space:

"Keep soft objects, loose bedding, or any objects that could increase the risk of entrapment, suffocation, or strangulation out of the baby's sleep area. These include pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, blankets, toys, bumper pads or similar products that attach to crib slats or sides."

This precaution is a necessary one, too. In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that, in 2015, there were a reported 3,700 sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUID) in the United States. Of those reported deaths, according to the CDC, 1,600 infants died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which is the leading cause of death among infants 1 to 12 months old. SUID deaths include death by strangulation and suffocation, too, and are usually caused by a baby becoming tangled in bedding or loose clothing.

According to Baby Center, SIDS isn't entirely understood or explained by scientific research. For example, and according to Baby Center, SIDS can affect any family, although it is very rare for it to occur twice in the same family and it is uncommon in Asian families, "for reasons that are not yet understood."

Due to the lack of understanding regarding SIDS and other mysterious, unexplained sleep-related infant deaths, it's more than understandable why many parents would want to give their baby the very best when they're sleeping. It's just that, the best for a baby isn't what most adults would consider to be the best for themselves. In other words, placing your precious baby in a bare crib, as encouraged by the AAP, can seem uncaring, and you might worry that your baby will become unreasonably cold at night. But given the official advice and recommendations from a range of public health agencies, it's safest for your baby if you hold off on the blankets, covers, and pillows.

To keep your baby warm and cozy in the night, and without the worry, invest in a wearable blanket, sleep sack, or try your hand at swaddling. Not only will swaddling mimic the environment of your womb, but it will keep your baby toasty and inhibit your child from moving around, flipping to their stomach, or covering their face with a potential hazard.

Baby's can be expensive to plan for, so do everyone in the family a favor and cross blankets off your list.