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When Can My Baby Sleep With A Stuffed Animal?

When you are a parent of a newborn baby you have a constant fear of not being able to keep them safe. You always wonder in the back of your mind if it’s okay to do something. This includes letting your baby sleep with items in the crib. It doesn’t matter if it is your first baby or not, you still have questions about their safety. One of the most common concerns that parents have is when can my baby sleep with a stuffed animal? This is a valid question, considering the most popular item that a baby gets as a gift is a stuffed animal.

However, just because it is given to you for your baby doesn’t mean that it is safe for them to sleep with. It is understandable that you want your baby to be soothed and comforted because you feel they are lonely. However, there is a right time to introduce stuffed animals and other objects in their sleeping space.

When Can Baby Have Stuffed Animal in Crib?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the risk of a baby dying from SIDS is greatly reduced after they turn a year old. This is why the AAP recommends that your baby should be at least a year old before introducing anything in their sleeping environment. However, it is preferred by some experts to wait until your child is between 18 months to 2-years-old before placing items like stuffed animals, pillows, and other soft objects in the crib.

It cannot be stressed enough the dangers that are involved with placing these items in the crib with a baby while they are sleeping. Blankets and loose sheets are advised against because these items pose the same threat of danger that toys and stuffed animals do. Especially if your baby moves around in their sleep, it’s easy for them to get tangled up in a loose blanket which can cause strangulation.

Cases of SIDS is on the Rise

With cases of sudden infant death syndrome on the rise, it’s a wonder why parents are concerned about letting their baby sleep with a stuffed animal. The cases of death each year related to SIDS and accidental strangulation or suffocation is upward of 3,500. One of the most significant contributing factors to this is that most babies under the age of 1, are unable to move soft objects and toys away from their face while sleeping. If your baby rolls over with a toy in their face it can cause them to suffocate by blocking their airways.

Keeping Your Baby Safe While Sleeping

You already know that cases of SIDS are increasing. There are things you can do to reduce the risk aside from placing your baby on their back to sleep. This includes the following:

  • Only use fitted sheets in your child’s crib.
  • If you are concerned about your baby being cold, put them to sleep in a wearable blanket rather than using a loose blanket.
  • Place your baby to sleep on a firm mattress. This is recommended by the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s safety standards.
  • Bumper pads are not needed due to new crib safety guidelines. They are said to be a contributing factor to the deaths from accidental strangulation and suffocation, per the AAP.
  • Do not attach items to your baby’s pacifier and do not hang the pacifier around their neck while they are sleeping.
  • If you feel your baby needs to be comforted, have them sleep in a crib, bassinet, or play yard that is set up in your room for the first 6-12 months of their life.

Is it Safe for My Baby to Sleep With Stuffed Animals?

A baby begins to roll over or pull things away from their body by the time they are a year old, which lessens the risk of suffocation or strangulation if objects are placed in the crib. At this age a baby is able to move items away from their face to avoid blocking their airways(i.e. nose and mouth) With that being said, can a 1-year-old sleep with a teddy? If your baby is at least a year old and can move items out of their way, sit up unassisted, rollover, and lift their head up, it is safe for them to sleep with stuffed animals, as long as the right type of stuffed animals is placed in the crib.

Not all babies develop or reach milestones at the same time. Therefore not all 1-year-olds can roll over or push things out of their face. This means even if your baby is a year old if they are unable to do these things it wouldn’t be safe to allow stuffed animals to be in the crib while your baby is sleeping. Some experts recommend waiting until your little one transitions out of the crib to begin to let them sleep with a favorite blanket or stuffed animal.

What Types of Stuffed Animals Can be Placed in the Crib?

After your baby’s first birthday, if you allow your baby to sleep with a stuffed animal, you want to make sure that it is a small stuffed animal that doesn’t have removable parts. Small parts that fall off or can easily be removed create a choking hazard for your little one. If you have an older baby that loves to climb, large stuffed animals or pillows increase the risk of your toddler climbing out of the crib. An ideal size is an object that is the size of your baby’s head or smaller.

Final Thought

The rule of thumb to determine if and when a baby is ready or able to sleep with a stuffed animal in the crib is waiting until they are at least a year old. After this age, it’s okay if they want to sleep with their favorite teddy. Until then you should make sure that your baby goes to sleep each night in a crib or sleeping space that consists of nothing more than a fitted sheet.

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