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Jennifer Shu, MD, FAAP

Are Blankets Okay For Baby?

My daughter seems to be especially attached to one of her blankets. Will she be able to sleep without it?

Many babies, especially as they approach their first birthday, adopt a lovey—also known as a security, comfort or transitional object. It's actually a good sign. It shows that baby is finding a way to soothe herself when she's anxious or away from you. So embrace the blankie! To ward off potential disasters, see if you can find another blanket just like the favorite and rotate the two so they wear equally. Or you can cut the blankie in half. Wash it regularly so baby doesn't get too attached to the smell of the unwashed blanket (ick).

When it comes to bedtime, though, there are some safety concerns to keep in mind. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping the crib free of blankets, pillows, toys and other items until baby is 12 months old, as these can create a suffocation hazard and increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Once baby turns 1, SIDS is no longer a threat, says pediatric sleep consultant Angelique Millette, so feel free to tuck your child in with her blankie then. (Searching for a snuggly baby blanket? Check out these options.)

Keep in mind, though, that toddlers tend to move around a lot when they sleep and can’t reposition covers until they’re closer to 18 to 24 months of age, according to Dream Team Baby sleep consultants Kira Ryan and Leah Johnson. Even then, choose a blanket that isn’t too large or bulky. “We’ve seen more ‘adventurous’ toddlers bunch up comforters and use them as a step for climbing out of the crib,” they say. It’s also safe to assume that whatever blanket you use will find its way into your child’s mouth, especially if he or she is teething, so make sure the blanket is easy to wash and doesn’t have tassels or shed.

Updated August 2016

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