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What are Swaddles and Sleep Sacks?

Learn what’s safe to put in your little one’s crib—and what should stay out.

If you’re a new parent, you probably have loads of questions about your baby’s sleep. Is she getting enough sleep? When should she start snoozing through the night? What’s that strange sound coming from the baby monitor? Will she ever fall asleep without your having to be in the room with her?

But if you’re wondering what you can do to help keep your child safe at night, you can cross that question off your list. Read on for the answers.

Is it okay to let my baby sleep with a blanket at night?

If your child is under 12 months of age, blankets should stay out of the crib—whether your baby is playing or napping. That’s because blankets can increase the risk of smothering, suffocation, or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The same rule applies to pillows, comforters, bumper pads, sheepskins, soft toys, and any other soft objects. In short, the only thing that should be in the crib at night is your child.

But won’t she be cold?

It’s completely normal to worry that without a cozy blanket, babies will get chilly at night and won’t get the sleep that they need, but infants can get the proper level of warmth from what they wear to bed alone. Keep your little one’s room at a comfortable temperature (around 70 to 72 degrees) and dress him in no more than one extra layer than you would wear. Soft fabrics that breathe, such as cotton, work well and should fit your child snugly. Footie pajamas, swaddles, and sleep sacks are popular choices. Then check in on your tot every now and then to make sure that he isn’t getting too hot or cold. Your baby may be too warm if his chest feels hot, his face is red, he’s breathing quickly, and/or he’s sweating. If your baby’s chest feels cool, he may be too chilly.

So when is it okay to let my baby snuggle up with a blanket?

After your tot’s first birthday, feel free to place the blankie that Grammy knitted or a favorite teddy in the crib. At this age, most babies have the strength and dexterity to roll over and move blankets away from their face if needs be, which reduces the risk of SIDS dramatically. But talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about whether or not your baby is developmentally ready.