At Consumer Reports, we’ve long been advocates of not putting a blanket or anything cushy, including stuffed animals, a sleep positioner, or crib bumpers or pillows, in a baby’s crib. Soft items in the crib are a suffocation hazard. It doesn’t sound cozy, but with cribs, “Bare is best.”
Still, I’ve gotten questions from some parents wondering about how long that advice applies. After your baby’s first birthday, for example, the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome drops. Can you put a blanket in the crib then?
The answer is still no. Here's what Laura Reno, vice president of public affairs for First Candle/SIDS Alliance said, when asked whether it was safe to put a blanket in a crib after a child turns a year old. "We would never recommend putting a blanket in a crib. Save the blankets for when a child moves into a toddler bed. Use wearable blankets, sleep sacks, sleepers, or anything along those lines just to keep them warm without having to put loose blankets in there."
Of course, your child can still have a traditional, fluffy “baby” blanket before he moves to a toddler bed. (That’s a move you’ll want to make as soon as he can climb out of the crib.) Just keep it out of the crib. A baby blanket makes a nice play mat or exercise pad for “tummy time” under your watchful supervision, and there’s nothing like it when you two want to curl up in the glider with a good baby book (or two or three) before nap and bedtime.
When shopping for a wearable blanket with lots of leg room for stretching and kicking--which goes over a regular sleeper and diaper--look for a flame-resistant fabric, such as polyester. You can buy as many as four, and buy more as needed. Wearable blankets also come in swaddle form for infants, as an alternative to receiving blankets. They retail for about $15 to $20.
See our reports on cribs, crib alternatives, and baby furniture for more information.