Baby Covering Face With Blanket – Leading Cause Of Infant Sleep Death (Ways To Avoid SIDS)

A blanket can be a hazardous item for your baby if careful considerations aren’t taken and can lead to losing their life due to SIDS or suffocation. Until your baby has turned a year old, you need to ensure a proper nighttime routine and take no risks while they sleep. Ensure the blanket is properly tucked in and only covers the baby until their chest and no other soft toys, even a pillow, are in the crib. Altogether avoid placing your sleeping baby on a couch, sofa, or any other furniture. The crib is made to ensure your baby sleeps safely and soundly. If you’ve lost your baby to SIDS, there’re multiple groups to seek emotional help from. 

As your baby tries to innocently play hide and seek with you, hiding under the blanket, you might panic if they don’t come out within a couple of seconds.

As long as this hiding under the blanket doesn’t become a habit for your baby, you can rest easy. But if you witness your baby already trying to cover their face as they sleep, there’s a lot to be worried about.

Data shows that 82% of infant deaths are caused due to suffocation or broadly termed SIDS.

Even if it’s for the first time you’ve seen your baby cover their face with the blanket, you need to make sure it doesn’t develop into a habit. 

But how bad could it be if your baby tried to cover their face while sleeping? Isn’t it normal for a baby to be comforted if they sleep this way?

What are the following steps to ensure my baby doesn’t cover their face with the blanket? Let’s look at how hazardous a blanket could prove to be for your baby and the steps you need to take to avoid it.

Why is my baby sleeping with a blanket over her face?

Your baby can quickly develop an attachment to the blanket you cover them with every day. It’s like a sense of comfort and security they receive from this blanket.

It could also be because it smells like you, so they become incredibly attached to it. 

Over time there could be various reasons why they might want to start covering their face with this blanket. It could be that they’re imitating the game you play of hide and seek with them. 

Another reason could be that they don’t get enough skin time with you, and so as they miss you, they want to cover themselves up with a blanket that smells like you. 

Whatever the reason, the vital thing to note here is that this habit is hazardous and needs to be broken down.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends keeping soft objects and loose bedding out of the sleeping area for at least the first 12 months of age. 

The reason is that it’s the number one cause of infant sleep deaths which mostly happens due to suffocation or is broadly termed as SIDS.

This is a huge problem because even the slightest discomfort can cause infant sleep death.

Infant sleep death due to blanket

Till your baby has turned one year old, there’s a need to be careful about their sleeping position, their blanket tucked correctly in, and things related to what’s allowed to be in their crib.

If proper care is not taken, it could lead to SIDS or cause suffocation as your baby tries to cover their face with a blanket that hasn’t been appropriately tucked in. 

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is an unexplained death, usually during sleep, of a seemingly healthy baby less than a year old. It’s also known as crib death because infants often die in their cribs if proper precautions aren’t taken. 

There could be a combination of physical and sleep-environmental factors that make them vulnerable to SIDS and suffocation.

Some other risk factors that can couple with the covering of the face with a blanket and lead to severe consequences include:

  • Baby lying on their stomach or side before they have turned a year old
  • Brain defects 
  • Respiratory infection
  • Low weight at birth
  • Premature birth or birth of multiples
  • Family history of SIDS
  • Second-hand smoke or maternal smoking during pregnancy
  • African American and Native American babies are twice likely to die of SIDS than other races for reasons that aren’t known
  • Male babies have slightly higher risks than female babies
  • Young mother (below age 20)
  • Common during winter or cold weather
  • Overheating
  • Co-sleeping
  • Unsafe or old crib
  • Bedding or mattress that’s too soft
  • Crib with soft objects inside, like pillows or stuffed toys
  • Using a sleep positioner or wedge while feeding or sleeping, which isn’t recommended by the Food and Drug Administration
  • Not using a pacifier for sleep
  • Not breastfeeding

These risk factors can couple with covering the face with a blanket and might result in death if you’re not careful. 

Reducing risk factors for SIDS

When your baby is below one year old, then you need to make sure their sleeping position and nighttime routine are established and well planned to avoid anything dangerous from happening.

You can reduce the risks and follow some tips to ensure your baby is sleeping the right way during the night.

If the baby even covers their face, they won’t make a noise or struggle if they can’t breathe. Especially as a newborn, it’s quite easy if you’re not careful, and an accident might take place. 

In the daytime, you can quickly check if your baby is sleeping okay, but you need to catch up on good rest during the night, so some tips can help prevent any accident from occurring. 

  • Make sure your baby is sleeping somewhere near you. While many people look down upon co-sleeping, you can shift the crib by your bedside until your baby turns a year old to tend to them easily.
  • When sleeping, make sure you place your baby on their back on the soft bedding of the crib. It’s the optimum sleeping position for babies to breathe correctly and fully.
  • You might want to add pillows to make them comfortable, but it can be hazardous to place any soft objects inside the crib, so avoid doing it. The crib already has soft bedding. 
  • They don’t need anything else in the crib other than their blanket or sheet. But even the blanket needs to be properly tucked in and covered midway chest, or you can accidentally risk the face’s covering by the baby.
  • The blanket or the sheet needs to be tucked in around the mattress. Loose blankets are the number one cause of accidental suffocation. 
  • Swaddle or use sleep sacks only if they have turned 2 months old, and after that, stop doing it. A swaddled baby at the toddler age could be dangerous too.
  • Maintain a suitable room temperature to keep the baby warm and avoid getting it overheated or needing stuffy blankets for the baby. 
  • You can make your baby wear a thin layer of clothes and don’t need to add on more layers of clothing. The best way to check if they feel hot or cold is to check the back of their neck. 
  • Breastfeeding till the age of 6 months old reduces the chances of SIDS and suffocation.
  • Sucking on a pacifier at naptime and bedtime might also reduce the risk of SIDS. Don’t force the pacifier if the baby’s not interested, and make sure the pacifier doesn’t have a string attached to it. 

This is the proper nighttime routine you should be following, which would ensure no accidents of any sort take place. 

Taking care of daytime sleeping

An infant boy is sleeping on his back in his crib during a daytime nap.

While there’s a routine established for the nighttime, you might end up doing something that could be harmful to the baby during the day.

When you’re doing the household chores, you might mistakenly place your baby on the sofa and cover them up with a blanket or sheet without thinking much about it. Even if your sofa is broad and seemingly safe, it’s not for the baby. 

The reason babies need a flat, firm, soft bedding that comes with the crib is that it doesn’t envelope your baby and stays flat as they sleep. A sofa always does the opposite, and it’s suitable for adults but not safe for the baby. 

There’s no space to tuck in the blanket, too, so for the baby, it’s easier to move their arms and cover their face accidentally with the blanket. Since they won’t even make a sound of struggling, you might lose your baby. Numerous reports have been of parents losing their babies this way. 

It could be the sofa, the changing table, or any piece of furniture where you think the baby can sleep comfortably, but nothing is better and the best than their own soft bedding of the crib. 

Seeking support

Even accidentally covering up of face can lead to an accident, and your baby can lose their life.

When something like this happens so suddenly, it’s quite difficult for the parents and the whole family to deal with. An unexpected death can take a huge emotional toll on the parents as they usually cannot accept losing their child. 

When the baby is seemingly healthy and loses its life during sleep, a mandatory investigation and autopsy are done to find the cause, which takes an extra toll. 

For these reasons, getting professional help is needed to get out of the parents’ guilt and remorse. There’re several support groups for families who have lost their babies.

Counseling is helpful as it helps get the parents out of the intense emotions and gradually move on with their lives. 

The following are some groups that offer support during this delicate time:

Many churches also provide grief support groups. 


Can a baby suffocate from a blanket on their face?

Babies are pretty sensitive before turning a year old, and in the newborn stage, even more so. It’s essential to make sure you tuck in the blanket properly on the firm sleep surface of the crib so they don’t end up accidentally covering their face. 

They can quickly suffocate as they breathe in carbon dioxide released in the blanket. Before they have turned to roll over and enter into the toddler stage, they might even suffocate if they’re sleeping the wrong way. 

Precautions need to be taken when you’re putting your baby to sleep. They won’t remove it themselves and can lose life without you knowing it.

At what age can babies remove a blanket from their face?

When babies turn a year old, their motor skills are sharp enough to roll over and push objects away from their face, affecting their breathing. In this case, it’s the blanket they won’t be able to remove below one year old. This age is very sensitive as your baby still hasn’t developed motor skills.

So, extra care and precautions need to be taken when putting them to sleep.

There should be no pillows, stuffed toys, or anything soft in the crib, for they could also suffocate in them. 

Can babies suffocate sleeping face down?

Make sure to place the baby with their back on the mattress so their face faces the ceiling rather than down on the mattress.

Facing down on a mattress can easily suffocate the baby. That’s why it’s recommended to avoid even the side position until they have learned how to roll over. 

How does a baby suffocate while sleeping?

The baby can easily suffocate if they have something soft in their crib with them, including blankets, soft toys, pillows, or anything else put in there.

That’s why you should place nothing in the crib and just a blanket that is tucked in the mattress so it doesn’t cover the baby’s face accidentally.

If you put your baby to sleep on any other piece of furniture, it could increase the risk of suffocation, for the table might be too soft for the baby, and they could get enveloped in it.

Therefore, the crib is the best place to put the baby to sleep at bedtime or nap time. 

What do I do if my child is suffocating?

When you notice something hindering the baby’s airway and suffocating, the best thing is to gently start removing the hindrance without harming the baby.

Don’t yank at anything, for it could result in something worse happening.

Try to calmly pull the thing carefully so they can breathe and then put them in an upright position to make it easier for them to breathe, and so they can get as much oxygen as possible.

If you see the situation getting worse, you should consider doing mouth-to-mouth. 

To summarize

Until your baby has turned over one year old, ensuring their sleeping situation is safe is essential.

For comfort, you might think there’re lots of things necessary for your precious child, but it could quickly turn into a hazardous situation. The same goes for your baby’s favorite blanket, which they could quickly end up covering their face with if precautions aren’t taken. 

It could be pretty easy for an accident to take place, as your baby might accidentally end up covering their face with the blanket. To ensure this doesn’t happen, you need to take some precautions and ensure they sleep with any soft toys and their blanket is tucked in properly.

The most important thing to remember is that nothing is better than the baby’s crib, which is made upon careful consideration and is deemed necessary for a safe sleep environment. Don’t make your baby sleep on any other piece of furniture. 

You need to be careful for the first year, and after that, your baby becomes more aware, and their body becomes more vital to signal any disturbance facing during sleep.

Make sure to take proper steps until then!

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As a writer for 1happykiddo, Saumya wants to help new parents and older siblings help raise the newest member added to the family. Her parenting tips come from her experience of being 15 years older than her youngest sibling. When not writing, you can find her reading novels, traveling, and cooking nutritious meals.

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