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Should we introduce a Blanket in the crib?

Should my baby sleep with a blanket?

Reader Question!The other day at daycare the teacher mentioned she was the only child sleeping during nap time without a blanket and she had started noticing/wondering about it. They tried a spare blanket with her and she slept well and really liked it. At night we only put her in footed PJ’s and that is all – no blankets. She sleeps well but loves her blanket that she sits on to read etc. so we are wondering about introducing a blanket in the crib for her at night.

What are your thoughts on this and do you have any tips? My big concern is that by switching the routine she might start waking up if the blanket comes off and call for us to put it back on (I can hear the “blanket on” calls in my head). She is also still fairly active in her crib at night and she ends up all over the place so that’s another consideration.”

Thank you for your great question!

Yes, it is okay for her to use a blanket at daycare but please DON’T introduce one at home for her crib. When a child is at daycare, there are a few things at play that are different than at home:

  • At daycare, there is some element of peer pressure. All of her little buddies are watching her, so she is more likely to comply.
  • At daycare, from a licensing perspective, there is usually a caregiver in the room watching over the children for safety
  • Children are only expected to sleep between one to three hours at daycare, and they are less likely to kick off blankets

The reason we don’t want to introduce blankets at home – even though you may think it makes sense to prepare them for a ‘big kid’ bed – is because it often becomes a MAJOR problem. (see Is Your Baby Ready For a Big Kid Bed? ).  My argument is why take that risk?

The problem is, even though the hormones are now being released into their bodies, toddlers are still quite active in their sleep (for explanation, see How Developmental Milestones Affect Sleep). They love to move and shake in their cribs.  If they are sleeping 10-12 hours at night, chances are that blanket will come off and you may worry that your little one is cold. Now because you are worried, you will go in to rearrange the blanket even if your little one isn’t calling you to do so. Then when your child realizes that the blanket is off, and not on EXACTLY as it was when they fell asleep, they are likely to get frustrated and start crying and calling for you to come in and help them rearrange it.

Now they have your attention (and some children delight in that attention!), and one night waking will turn into ten. Then your beautiful consistent, consolidated, sleeping machine is getting broken sleep. The night wakes may be brief, and they may fall asleep again quickly, but broken sleep is not as restorative as peaceful consolidated sleep. (read more here FAQ).

The addition of one new item in the crib at 2 years old can send you on a slippery slope. You’re little one is thinking “Oh great! I convinced them to give me a blanket, now I want my bottle! My sippy cup! 5 toys that distract me from sleep! And if I don’t get them I will cry!” Now your toddler that used to love going to bed has a 21-point game plan!

So if your child is a blanket lover, and likes their cozy soft feeling, then go ahead and use it but PLEASE cut it down into quarters and they can snuggle it (and you have 3 stunt doubles!). It is okay for them to have one stuffed animal and one small cuddle blanket in their crib.

I know that it may look lonely in their crib, but all they need is their sleep sack, their lovey, and a SMALL cuddle blanket if you really want it. It seems so empty. But they will get BETTER SLEEP.

In the blink of an eye, your precious little one will be 16 years old and in high school. So save the big blanket for when they’re older, and in a Big kid Bed.