A baby blanket is one of the first tangible gifts we give our babies, they carry a special sentiment to us as parents and our babies alike. When I think of a baby blanket, a representation of who my parents were and their love for me as a baby comes to mind.
We give our child a baby blanket with the intention of them being able to keep it for many years, for most parents our hopes are that they will eventually grow up enjoying their security blanket.
There are so many options for baby blankets it might seem difficult to know where to start and where to stop, which baby blanket is right for your baby? How big is a baby blanket anyway?
And to take it even further, what qualifies as a baby blanket anyway? Can they be bigger than crib-sized blankets? Do they have to contain certain features to be an official baby blanket… let’s dive in and see what the experts are saying.
In this article
- When did the idea of the baby blanket come to exist?
- Over time the baby blanket has changed its shape and purpose
- When choosing a baby blanket, you will want to think of the following
- The 10 most common types of baby blankets
- A security blanket is a small blanket usually attached to a stuffed animal
- A swaddling blanket is meant to protect your baby while sleeping
- Receiving blankets are baby blankets that receive spit-up
- The sleep sack is a modern baby blanket that parents are just getting to know
- You can buy or sew at home a classic crib-sized blanket for your baby
- Fleece baby blankets help wick moisture away from your baby
- Flannel baby blankets are incredibly comfortable and regulate body temperature well
- Cotton baby blankets are wonderful for the summertime heat
- Thermal baby blankets are ideal for camping trips
- Crocheted blankets are beautiful and something you can make at home for your baby
- Pick fabric for your baby’s blanket pick with the utmost care
- You can choose a banket for your baby that will stimulate their senses
- Always wash any store-bought or borrowed blankets before first use
- How many baby blankets do I need?
- The design and color of your baby blanket matters
- Checkers, stripes, or plaid is a choice you get to make
- Some babies will want to be swaddled after being born and others do not prefer it
- In Conclusion
When did the idea of the baby blanket come to exist?
Baby blankets have been around since prehistoric times, if we really want to get down to the nitty-gritty – baby Jesus is depicted to be swaddled in a baby blanket by his mother Mary.
I’m sure that he isn’t the only baby from that era that was swaddled in a baby blanket for that matter. Small baby-sized blankets have always been mentioned in some form or another for as long as people can manage to write about or illustrate in a film.
Over time the baby blanket has changed its shape and purpose
That said, baby blankets haven’t always had the same purpose throughout society, over various generations, mothers and fathers usually have a certain way that they love to personally use a baby blanket on their baby.
The popularity of the various methods that baby blankets are to be used has changed over the years.
For instance, the original baby blanket that was used in hospitals was created by A.L Mills in 1910 – these blankets were the original blue and pink striped blankets that you imagine swaddled around a baby in the hospital right after birth.
The company that Mills named the blankets after was called Kuddle-Up and they still sell roughly 1.5 million to the hospitals annually.
Fast forward to today and you will find many styles of baby blankets
Fast forward to the development of baby blankets for your baby to use at home today, say, after your baby has grown a tad bit and there are many different kinds you can purchase or even make for your baby at home.
You can make your baby a blanket before they are born, or buy one that will last until he or she has grown into the toddler stages – either way – a variety of fabrics, styles, and patterns are available to you.
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When choosing a baby blanket, you will want to think of the following
You’ll want to keep in mind a few very important aspects when you choose your baby a blanket for a keepsake; size, the fabric used, and the style of baby blanket it is.
Ask parents who already have a child who has outgrown the baby phase to see what their thoughts are regarding the different styles of baby blankets.
Overall there are about 10 different styles of baby blankets
You might think that one style fits all but trust me, babies are picky when it comes to their personal blankets. I have bought or made baby blankets for each of my 5 kids and have gotten it right about %60 of the time.
When my babies didn’t like their blanket, it usually had to do with the material it was made from(my kids are warm-blooded) fleece was just way too hot for my twins after they were born – they are 9-years-old today and they still sleep with sheets instead of warmer blankets.
If you don’t know where to start, start with you and your partner – it’s likely that you each have a certain feel for the type of blankets you frequently use already – the following are good questions to ask you and your partner when brainstorming ideas.
- Do you each tend to get hot or cool at night?
- Do you have a baby blanket that you loved yourself?
- Are there any fabrics that you have ever had an allergic reaction to?
It’s more than likely that your baby will have similar sensitivities to fabrics that you and your partner do.
The 10 most common types of baby blankets
A security blanket is a small blanket usually attached to a stuffed animal
The reason that security blankets exist at all is to offer your baby a sense of security, it usually has a stuffed animal or a binky attached to it for your baby to use as needed.
A security blanket is not to actually wrap your baby up or keep them warm – it’s purely for them to hold in their hands to keep them feeling safe.
Babies often cry simply because they don’t have anything to hold onto or feel like the room around them is very big. A blanket that offers security proves to be especially helpful when your baby starts to realize how vast the area around them is.
This kind of blanket is quite small, and won’t be used much when your baby is a newborn. When your baby is firstborn, you can set the security blanket with your baby to get them used to it being around – yet, a small baby won’t grab the security item on the blanket just yet.
How big is a security blanket?
Security blankets are on the rather small side, since they aren’t meant to keep your baby warm they don’t need to be big. Usually, they are the size of a small square(12×12”) and don’t need to be any bigger for your baby to receive the benefits of a security blanket.
Does my baby need a security blanket?
Your baby doesn’t necessarily need a security blanket, they are definitely comforting for babies.
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Despite being comforting to some babies, others don’t take to keeping them around at all. I tried to have a few of my babies use this security blanket, but they never really got the hang of it.
They’re hard to keep track of, in reality too if you have multiple kids – they often get left behind when it’s time to walk out the door unless your child is pretty attached to it.
A swaddling blanket is meant to protect your baby while sleeping
Babies have a sensitive startle reflex, so they are often being scared from small movements(even their own). A swaddle blanket protects them from this response, helping them have less jumping movement from being startled.
Babies who have had their startle reflex triggered will often cry out from being scared at the moment. In addition, a swaddle blanket keeps a baby’s hands secure, that way they won’t scratch their face with their tiny sharp nails.
Swaddling a baby has proven to be one of the most effective in helping babies self-soothe due to the limited touch from mom or dad – they get that time to soothe themselves first.
How big is a swaddling blanket?
Swaddling blankets are just a bit bigger than your baby – they wrap snuggly around your baby. This size blanket is one that they will outgrow soon after moving into – it’s a baby blanket that is built more for the newborn stage of your baby’s life.
Does my baby need a swaddle blanket?
Some parents choose not to have swaddle blankets for their babies, of course, you won’t know until you try one out but your baby could dislike the feeling of being swaddled(even right out of the womb).
I can attest that not all babies love to be swaddled, none of my 5 children would allow me to swaddle them after birth – they had this message “I’m free now, don’t swaddle me!” I really wanted to use swaddle blankets, and it just didn’t work in my family.
You can use swaddle blankets if you feel the desire to, there are numerous styles of swaddle blankets; velcro closures or buttons are popular closures to there being no closure at all, simply wrap.
Receiving blankets are baby blankets that receive spit-up
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Blankets that soak up spit up smoothly, and other baby projected fluids when mom or dad needs is called a receiving blanket – if you’ve ever seen a mom of a young baby with a small lightweight blanket on her shoulder while she pats her babies bum, you have seen a receiving blanket in action.
Usually, moms or pops put these blankets on their shoulders after their baby has eaten and they need to burp them, they serve the purpose of catching any spit-up from the babe’s last meal.
How big is a receiving blanket?
Receiving blankets are usually not very large in size, they tend to keep the same size regardless of which brand you bought the receiving blanket from – coming in right around 1 yard in length. They are incredibly soft and generally made from soft thin flannel that is super absorbent.
They are generally longer than they are wide so that the length of the blanket fits nicely along a single shoulder. This makes them convenient when you need to throw it over with one hand while holding your baby in the other arm.
Some receiving blankets are more like small-sized baby blankets, but you will know it is a receiving blanket instead of a baby bed blanket because of the material it’s made from – which will probably be flannel.
This size of baby blanket comes in handy around the house or if your baby is having a bottle you can prop their head upon the receiving blanket as it absorbs all the milk that runs down your baby’s neck.
The same is true for breastfeeding babies, a larger receiving blanket will soak up all the excess milk especially in the newborn phase while the mom’s flow is leveling.
Do I need a receiving blanket?
Yes, if possible every new parent should have a stack of receiving blankets in their baby’s room. The nice part about purchasing receiving blankets is that they come in larger packs, you get 3-5 in a single pack.
I can attest that having receiving is necessary for all new babies, if possible. The larger and smaller receiving blankets prove to be useful for many years from the newborn stage up into the toddler years.
After your child outgrows them, you can use them around the house as kitchen clothes.
The sleep sack is a modern baby blanket that parents are just getting to know
Sleepsacks came to be after the sudden rise in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome(SIDS), these are baby blankets that a baby can sleep with on its own. A baby can slip into the sleep sack without waking after they have fallen asleep, can anyone say convenience?
Sleepsacks help keep parent’s stress at bay when it comes to SIDS or the possibility of their baby being wrapped up in a bigger blanket they would otherwise use.
If you know that your baby has any sort of breathing problems in their sleep then this is a great option to keep them safe.
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How big is a sleep sack?
Sleep sacks are meant to be used from 8-weeks-old through 1-years-old for your baby, so they are just enough cloth to wrap around your baby snuggly and no more. They are the shape of a baby so that the baby can snuggly sleep in their sack.
8-weeks-old is about the same time a baby learns to roll over from back to belly, which is considered a higher risk timeframe due to the nature of a baby wrapping up in their blankets and suffocation.
Does my baby need a sleep sack?
Yes, if you’re a new mother or father a sleep sack can be especially helpful while you get to know your baby, it’s not only safer for your baby to sleep in than a large blanket but it’s easier to clean and maintain as well.
A sleep sack can help any parents who are nervous about their baby’s sleeping situation or if they have been informed that their baby will need breathing support after birth.
Even if your baby sleeps next to you in your bed, it’s nice to have a dedicated sleeping blanket for your baby outside of your own, that way your baby doesn’t get wrapped up in your blanket.
You can buy or sew at home a classic crib-sized blanket for your baby
The typical baby blanket is designed to be the size of the crib a baby will first sleep in after birth up until they outgrow their crib. That said, there are plenty of crib-sized baby blankets that will be made of various fabrics, each of which serves a different purpose.
Fleece baby blankets help wick moisture away from your baby
Fleece baby blankets help wick moisture away from their little bodies when they sleep in them, surprisingly babies can start sweating a lot when they get past the newborn stage.
Fleece can be helpful in regulating the moisture that could otherwise get trapped in their blanket.
Flannel baby blankets are incredibly comfortable and regulate body temperature well
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Baby blankets made from a fabric called flannel are my go-to baby blanket, even in the summer. Flannel can absorb moisture well keeping babies comfortable in the summer while keeping them warm in the winter.
Flannel seems to be a breathable material, which makes it desirable for mom’s on the go whose babies are a bit pickier about being too hot or too cold.
Cotton baby blankets are wonderful for the summertime heat
We have all head of cotton in a positive way, the fabric has long been used by parents who want their children to wear breathable clothing.
This is why my own mother chose cotton clothing for me and my siblings. I have to admit I was always comfortable in cotton as a kid.
Cotton is the perfect material in my opinion for newborn babies, simply because it is a very gentle fabric. Your baby is unlikely to have an allergic reaction to cotton or feel too hot since it is a highly breathable fabric.
Thermal baby blankets are ideal for camping trips
If you’re going camping at any time other than the middle of August you risk being slightly chilly at night, and that’s when thermal blankets will be parents saving grace.
Though thermal blankets can be incredibly helpful if your baby is cold, they can also be helpful during summer days – as an afternoon nap because they help regulate overall body temperature.
They are not meant to simply warm you up, but can also cool you off when needed. Thermal can be made from various materials – cotton, wool, or 2-ply fabrics that are a combination of fabrics.
Crocheted blankets are beautiful and something you can make at home for your baby
We have all been over to grandmas house with crocheted throws on the couch to snuggle up with, well, babies love to do the same. Some of the best baby blankets I have in my home are crocheted, they are super versatile.
Crocheted blankets are a type of blanket that you can make for your baby right at home during pregnancy if you really want to. Crocheted blankets are made from thick yarn that is usually made from acrylic fabric.
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The possibility of design is endless, you can infuse a crochet blanket with designs, patterns, and other unique designs that are personalized for your baby.
If you don’t feel up to making a crochet blanket you can buy one online, they come in a variety of sizes and styles.
Pick fabric for your baby’s blanket pick with the utmost care
Fabrics play a huge role in how much your baby will actually use their new baby blankets, and it’s important to choose the fabric with the utmost care. Babies born in the summer may do best with a cotton blanket as it helps keep their bodies cooled off in the heat.
While someone born in the winter may do better with a fleece blanket since they invoke extra warmth around the body.
You’ll know if your baby is comfortable in the material by whether they remain content or not. A baby tells you how comfortable or not they are by crying or being at peace.
You can choose a banket for your baby that will stimulate their senses
You might already be aware of this, but, everything in your baby’s environment is going to stimulate their senses and help their development. When you choose blankets for your baby.
Make choices based on what will add extra developmental cues. For instance, a ribbon on a blanket will enhance hand-eye coordination when your baby begins to reach and interact with their blankets.
Certain materials will be extra soothing for your baby and get their brain firing at the same time. Taggies is a brand that has amplified this aspect of baby blankets – specializing in sensory stimulation baby blankets.
You can always add a specialized stimulative piece to your baby’s blanket by getting creative with the supplies you have at home too.
You can braid some ribbon and sew it onto one of the corners of your baby’s blanket or attach a small vibrating toy in a sewn-in compartment on a blanket. The possibilities are endless if you think outside the box.
Always wash any store-bought or borrowed blankets before first use
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When store-bought blankets are made they are doused with chemicals to keep them looking crisp and wrinkle-free – therefore it’s really important to wash any baby blankets that may have chemicals in them.
Some baby blankets smell like these chemicals if you put your nose to them and smell, and others are a little harder to smell – the best practice is to always wash and dry any new blankets in an unscented laundry detergent.
Baby skin is delicate and sensitive, especially during the newborn stage. It can be confusing to know where a rash is coming from and it’s always nice to rule out one more thing that could possibly be causing a rash, such as the harsh chemicals in new baby blankets.
Some blankets will have a tag saying whether they are prewashed, and how to wash them.
Even when they are prewashed, I like to wash any fabric that will touch my baby’s skin, because other customers could have touched the blanket while shopping and it’s best to ensure the fabric is cleansed of any unwanted elements.
How many baby blankets do I need?
Baby blankets can get dirty easily, so it makes sense that you would want to have a few extra on hand. I have done it all when it comes to the number of baby blankets in my home, I have stocked up, and tried to have one main blanket.
I have found a good number of baby blankets is as follows: 5-6 receiving blankets, 2 large baby blankets, and one small knitted or crocheted blanket. This gives enough variety to get your baby through many experiences; a walk outside, a nap at home, cleaning after mealtime, etc.
Of course, you will find your rhythm when it comes to all things baby blankets, but it’s a good start to aim to the aforementioned when starting out as a new parent.
The design and color of your baby blanket matters
As the parent, you get to experience the fun of picking what designs and colors you want your baby’s blankets to have. There are numerous patterns, colors, and designs that you can choose from.
If you want a specialized design, you might even be able to find the fabric with the exact print you adore at the fabric store.
Match the baby blankets to your baby’s nursery
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You can match your baby’s blankets to his or her nursery as a way to complete your baby’s attire.
You don’t have to if you don’t want to by any means, but this can make preparing for your baby feel wholesome and it gives you a lot of thinking time to go over anything else your baby might need after being born.
Checkers, stripes, or plaid is a choice you get to make
Baby blankets come in a range of patterns, styles, and colors – families tend to keep within a certain color code or style of blankets if they get to choose their own.
Colors and tones
Finding colors and tones of baby blankets that will compliment your baby’s skin is appealing to them as they are welcomed into this world. I like to find baby blankets that will compliment the features my baby might have.
Finding colors of baby blankets that soothe you as a mom and dad will help welcome you to parenthood as well.
Looking at and spending time with your baby can be soothing as you get to know your baby, and finding colors that you enjoy too, will help you and your baby connect.
Plaid, stripes, or solid colors help create an overall theme to baby attire
Picking and sticking with a single theme for your new baby’s blankets is a special idea that can make looking back on pictures seem more complete.
That said, even your nesting as a mother will be benefited by choosing a theme of baby blankets – one more outlet to ‘prepare’ for your new baby.
Baby blankets come in all kinds of prints; plaid, stripes, animal-themed, cartoon-themed, or solid colors – the key is choosing a theme that you believe your baby will grow to like, that also matches their nursery.
There is no right or wrong answer when picking the colors and patterns of your baby’s blankets. You can just go with what feels right to you and expect that with each baby your desire for their baby blankets will change.
I have 5 kids and with each one, I have chosen a specific set of baby blankets they used uniquely to who I felt they were.
Some babies will want to be swaddled after being born and others do not prefer it
It’s important to listen to what your baby is telling you when it comes to swaddling during the newborn stage – some babies do not like to be swaddled despite all of the positive intentions that come along with swaddling.
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If your baby is extra fussy, seems to be turning red, or developing a rash on their skin then it could mean your baby’s skin needs to be left out of the blanket to breathe. Often, when inside a cotton onesie is enough for your baby.
To be honest, this is important to me because my babies have never loved to be swaddled – every time I would try to swaddle them comfortably – they would react by crying and getting too hot and worked up.
It almost seemed like it was too much stimulation for them to manage, and eventually, I gave up swaddling all 4 of my children and swaddled my 5th a bit more because he liked to be swaddled.
It all depends on your baby’s personality type(yes they have a personality at even the youngest age), so be sure to listen to your baby if he is telling you how much he likes to be swaddled or not.
Baby blankets aren’t meant to be that big in size and nature – hence they are for small baby’s – usually the biggest that a baby blanket is going to be is the size of a toddler crib.
Nonetheless, baby blankets are a big step to your unique take on parenthood, they offer stimulation and colors that will welcome your baby into the world during the newborn to toddler stage.
You have to choose baby blankets carefully, the fabric used, and any sensory stimulation accessories should be chosen with the utmost care – in order to keep your baby comfortable and safe.
While some babies are happy to be swaddled securely, others love to be ‘free’ once they come out of the womb – pay attention to what your baby is telling you.