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For the past couple of months, our two year old has been covering her face (her whole head, actually) with a blanket whenever she sleeps. At night we usually go in after she has fallen asleep and pull it down to her neck. During her naps we don't want to disturb her, so when she wakes up from her nap her face is bright red and her hair is wet (with sweat) like she just had a bath. It's not like she just rests the blanket on her head - she more wraps her head in the blanket.

At first she was using her "blankie" which has a satin side - I was really worried that she would suffocate so we told her not to cover her face or we would take her blankie away. We ended up taking her blankie away but she just started using the blanket/bedspread on her bed. We can't take that away because we live up north and it will be getting very cold at night.

We tried giving her a very small (maybe 6 inch by 6 inch) thin blanket that she could put on her face but she won't use that. We have tried giving her one of those quilts that has a lot of holes in it, but she won't use that either.

We have asked her why she does it but she just says "because".

We tell her every night before bed not to cover her face, but when we go in to check on her, the blanket is wrapped around her head. Sometimes when we try to pull it down she wakes up and puts it back on.

Should I be concerned that she is covering her face? I worry about her suffocating or getting overheated. It is very hard to reason with a two year old. We even tried telling her we would take a toy away from her if she covered her face, but when we check on her later, her face is covered.

We can't get her to stop covering her face - the only thing left that I can think of is to take away all of her sheets and blankets on her bed - but that isn't really an option because of the cold weather.

I'm out of ideas so I am hoping someone here can think of something. Or maybe I'm just over-reacting and I should let her do this?

Thanks in advance!

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I have slept with a blanket over my head my entire life, I am more comfortable that way. When I am in a situation where I cannot, I wear a fleece hat or even use a pillow on top of my head. I don't think it will be a problem for your child, she may or may not grow out of it. I like Beofett's answer best. Maybe you could see if she would like to wear a hat to bed, a sleeping cap, instead of using a blanket? –  Dave Nelson Nov 6 '12 at 17:21
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We actually did try one of those sleep mask things that some people on airplanes wear - she didn't like that either. I like the idea of trying a hat though - it's definitely worth a try :) –  BrianH Nov 6 '12 at 18:38
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This will be my 8 month old, I am convinced. Currently she covers her head with a muslin sleep sack - at least it's breathable! –  justkt Nov 8 '12 at 15:27

6 Answers 6

up vote 13 down vote accepted

As a kid, I slept with the blanket pulled over my head for as long as I can remember.

I remember my parents shared concerns similar to yours, but I simply could not sleep without my head being completely covered.

I'm not sure I know why I did this. Perhaps it was fear of monsters, and the child-logic of "if they can't see me, they can't get me". Perhaps it was just the comfort of being nestled in, or perhaps it was just the fact that it blocked any incidental light. All I know is that it wasn't until I was probably 8 or so that I found I could sleep without the covers over my head (although I continued to prefer being covered until my teenage years).

As far as safety, I never had any issues, and was always able to breathe, no matter how burrowed under the covers I was. The only issue is that I found breathing hot air unpleasant, so for the less-breathable covers, I'd leave an opening by my mouth for cooler air.

Which brings us to your solution: make sure that whatever covers you offer are ones you are comfortable with. I say you, rather than your daughter, as the range of covers your daughter will be comfortable with will probably be greater than what may seem safe to you.

Speaking from experience, just about any sheet will pass enough air for her to breathe. However, if it gives you more peace of mind, find some with lower thread counts.

Loosely woven or knitted blankets will more obviously pass air through, but be aware that if she is like me, blankets that you can see through may be less comfortable for her.

As she gets older, you'll probably feel more comfortable with a wider range of options (if she continues to exhibit this preference).

Multiple light layers will allow her to cover her body more thoroughly than her head, if she is so inclined (if I had multiple layers available, I would typically cover my head with one, and then have more layers covering the rest of my body).

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I like the personal experience in your answer, and the part about finding something comfortable for us. Maybe we can take a trip to the store with her and find a blanket we all will be comfortable with. –  BrianH Nov 6 '12 at 16:29

I don't think you need be concerned for a "blankie". A 2-year old who couldn't breath or even wasn't able to clear enough CO2 from the area would awake and thrash around pretty seriously, at which point a "blankie" would come away from her face.

My kids did this, too, though at a younger age. We'd just pull the blanket away from their faces when we went to bed.

A full blanket is potentially more serious, especially if wrapped around so it won't just fall away in a panic situation. The heavier the blanket, the more serious.

Perhaps a compromise... You can have the "blankie" and you can put it over your face but do not wrap it around your head. If you do, we'll take it away again.

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That's a good point that helps me be a little less fearful about her sleeping with something covering her head. I think a compromise is indeed the way to go. Thanks for your answer! –  BrianH Nov 6 '12 at 16:31

I suggest you replace her blanket by a baby/toddler sleeping bag.
I use those for my kid, I ordered them in a shop called Slumbersac (they have different size and warmness for each age and season, and can send yours abroad), but you have a wide choice.
By the way sleeping bags were a recommendation from the Child Health Record I received for my son (there they were said to prevent suffocation or SIDS).

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We actually tried to use one of these on her when she was younger and still in a crib, and she always found a way to take it off. This would be a really good option otherwise though :) –  BrianH Nov 6 '12 at 16:31
    
Would such a sleeper still fit on a toddler? I've only ever seen them in infant sizes. –  balanced mama Nov 8 '12 at 2:23
    
@balanced mama On the site I wrote about above they claim their sleeping bags are fit for toddlers as old as 3-6 years old. –  wil Mar 29 at 15:30

As a child, the only way i could fall asleep was to have my head and face completely covered with a blanket. Even if the rest of my body remained oncovered, my head and face had to be completely covered. Now as adult, that is still the only way i can sleep. I would suggest buying her a sheet with her favorite cartoon, animal or character on it. Also a thicker sheet might feel more like a blanket. Allowing her to feel more comfortable using it.

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As others have mentioned, the blanket is probably of little concern in terms of suffocation at this stage in her development because she can move around freely (as opposed to an infant that cannot).

Having said that, You might try giving her a thin fabric cap she can wear and pull down over her eyes or one of those nighttime eye masks like some women wear but sized for kids. If you go this route make sure it has a velcro release where it can easily be pulled off if it falls down around her neck. You could also try just a small blanket that is just the right size to pull over her face only but isn't big enough to wrap around her head - then her regular blankets can be over her body and her "eye blanket" can rest over the top of her head and face. It may be that what she really wants is full darkness and just having her eyes covered is all she really wants. I've known tons of kids that like having something over their faces at this age. Then, she has what she needs and you aren't worrying over the off chance of entanglement and suffocation.

Good Luck.

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I see a lot of people on here talking about "compromising" with a two year old...do you guys have toddlers? I don't mean to be rude but I have have an almost two yr old and a three yr old and there is NO negotiating with these two. They are unreasonable and inclined to argue no matter what. It's the age. I live in a place where it's cold at night and my two yr old sleeps in a blanket sleeper, with wool "longies" (diaper cover leggings) and no blanket. He's plenty warm enough. My three yr old used to like to cover his head. The hotter the better-like your child he wasn't happy unless he was sweating like a pig. My husband was so worried about SIDS he used to get up and check on him frequently, but, we used to give him a knit blanket that was quite breathable. Did he like it? Not at first but it was that or nothing so he learned to deal. So, my advice is this: stop trying to negotiate with someone who is totally unreasonable and incapable of deciding what is in her best interest. You are the parent. Suck it up and listen to her whine and cry and tantrum for a few nights. She'll get over it. Cats love anti-freeze but that doesn't mean they should be allowed to drink it. Your child likes to do something that is potentially dangerous (smothering herself in non-breathable fabrics). That doesn't mean she should do it.

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Oh, as an after thought, I want to add that it IS a good idea to let a child make a choice, but you should fix the situation so that either option is acceptable to you. So, in this case, the baby can choose between this safe, knit blanket, or that safe, knit blanket. That way, the kid FEELS in control, when in fact, she isn't. ;) –  Jax Jan 27 at 15:16
    
I'm not sure what your advice is? We told her not to cover her head with her "blankie" or we would take it away. After she repeatedly kept covering her head with it, we took it away. She then proceeded to cover her head with the blanket that was on her bed. She wasn't in a crib, but in a bed. So is your advice to strip her bed of anything she can cover her head with, and suck it up when she cries? –  BrianH Jan 27 at 15:26
    
Oh, I see your comment now that I submitted mine - that is what we did - gave her a knit blanket that was very breathable. She still put it on her head and got very hot and sweaty, but at least we weren't worried about her breathing. I still don't understand how your original answer pertains though... –  BrianH Jan 27 at 15:27
    
My original advice is, basically, don't try to reason with a two year old. You can't "talk to her" about this. Threatening to take a toy away also won't work because it isn't an immediate consequence. Giving her just the knit blanket-no others (and, bundling her in warm pj's)-is the best you can do. Sorry I was so long winded! –  Jax Jan 27 at 22:30
    
Gotcha - thanks for the summary :) –  BrianH Jan 28 at 13:16

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