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Should Babies Have Blankets on Cold Nights?

by
author image Erica Roth
Erica Roth has been a writer since 2007. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a college reference librarian for eight years. Roth earned a Bachelor of Arts in French literature from Brandeis University and Master of Library Science from Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Her articles appear on various websites.
Should Babies Have Blankets on Cold Nights?
Make sure your baby's blanket is safe for use during naps. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images

Creating a safe sleeping environment for your baby is one of your top priorities after you bring her home from the hospital. Keeping your baby cool in the mild weather of spring and summer can sometimes be easier to achieve than ensuring she is warm enough on a cold winter night. Give your baby a blanket only under the proper circumstances to keep her safe and warm.

Safety Standards

Soft bedding, most often defined as fluffy blankets and comforters, can be dangerous to the health of your baby, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Babies can suffocate under blankets that are too heavy for them to move away from their faces during the the night. The AAP and CPSC recommend that babies under 1 year do not use soft bedding such as a quilt or comforter in a crib or bassinet.

Procedures

You may safely give your baby a blanket on cold night in one of two ways. Newborns and small infants who enjoy swaddling can be wrapped in a lightweight receiving blanket. Swaddle your baby loosely enough so that she can move her legs; make sure the blanket reaches no higher than the baby's shoulders. Older babies can sleep with a light blanket in the chilly weather as well. Tuck a lightweight blanket underneath the bottom of the crib mattress on one side. Place your baby on the mattress with her feet pointing toward the tucked-in blanket. Babies should sleep on their backs with the blanket covering only as far as the chest, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Alternatives

A safe alternative to using a blanket in your child's crib on a cold night is to dress him more warmly. Blanket sleepers are a type of one-piece pajamas that get their name from the heavy fleece material from which they are made. A blanket sleeper may be warm enough for most babies in all but the bitterest of winter nights and reduces the risk of suffocation. A "sleep sack" is also similar to a blanket sleeper but can be worn over pajamas.

SIDS

Sudden infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, is the unexplained death of a baby in the first 12 months of life. The cause of SIDS is often unknown, but certain risk factors exist. The state of being overheated, due to too many blankets and heavy pajamas, may increase the risk of SIDS. Parents may choose to dress their child in warm pajamas and keep the baby's bedroom at a comfortable temperature -- exact readings vary according to your home, your own comfort level and your child's natural body temperature when sleeping -- to combat the cold outdoor air.

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