So many questions arise when you become a new parent. Soon you’ll be asking questions about stuff you never thought of before, like "what kinds of diapers should I use?" and "how in the world am I going to function on this much sleep??"
Today, we wanted to talk about how many swaddle blankets you should have to keep you & your baby comfortable. Hopefully it helps! (And we kept it scannable so you can keep taking care of your baby;)
The truth is...
Swaddling helps babies sleep.
Studies show that babies sleep better when they're properly and safely swaddled. Swaddling your baby replicates how they felt in the womb, which makes them sleep sounder.
Swaddling also helps prevent your baby from waking up due to startle reflex. Startle reflex is completely normal for newborn babies, but it's super frustrating when they wake up because of it (we know how precious your sleep is). Here's an article about all the reflexes you can expect your newborn to have.
All that's to say, we want you and your baby to get more sleep (we've been there). Swaddling really helps! So how many swaddles do you really need for your baby?
As I brushed up on my swaddle blanket knowledge preparing for this article, I came across a lot of swaddling lingo like "receiving blankets," "swaddling blankets," and "muslin blankets." Being the kind of person who thought they were all the same exact thing, I got a little confused.
There are all kinds of swaddles for different stages of development.
If you're like me and had no idea there were different types of swaddles, fear not. Here are some definitions before we dive into the question of "how many swaddle blankets do I need?"
What kinds of swaddle blankets are there exactly?
The first type of swaddling blanket you'll use as a parent is the receiving blanket.
Receiving Blankets got their name from being the first blankets moms use when their babies are first born to swaddle them.
They're usually designed as more generic blankets your baby will treasure for years after they are young enough to be swaddled.
Simply put, they're usually square-cut pieces of thin fabric you can use to swaddle your baby, clean up their spit-up, tuck over them in the car seat, or wrap around them when it's cold outside.
My family kept our receiving blankets long after the babies outgrew them because they are so versatile (and perfect for fort-building when they get a little older;).
Swaddle Blankets are a little different than Receiving Blankets. While they're usually made of a similar fabric, they are cut specifically for swaddling, and aren't really used for much else.
They're usually easier to use for swaddling, but harder to use for other things like keeping your baby warm or cleaning up their mess.
My family preferred receiving blankets over swaddling blankets just because they are so versatile, but if you prefer a blanket that makes swaddling that much easier, swaddling blankets might be the way to go:-)
As for Muslin Blankets, blankets usually get this title as a generic description for a blanket made of muslin cotton (which often ends up being the same exact thing as a receiving blanket!).
Always check the fabric of a swaddle blanket you're thinking of ordering, though! If it's important to you that your swaddles are made of 100% muslin cotton (which is more breathable so your baby doesn't overheat), you can usually find out in the product description.
For the rest of this article, I'm going to use the term "swaddle blankets" to reference whatever swaddling blanket you prefer to use (receiving or swaddle!) just so we're on the same page;)
Alright, so now we know the different types of swaddles, but how many do you actually need?
The truth is, you don't need as many swaddle blankets as you think.
Swaddle blankets keep your baby safe & secure through the night when they're little, but you can only safely use swaddling blankets for a short window of time.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says it's unsafe to swaddle your baby during bedtime after they turn 8 weeks old, and to stop swaddling altogether once they are 4 months old (they usually start trying to turn over at this point and could get themselves stuck in a dangerous position). This article details what safe (and unsafe) swaddling looks like.
Since your baby can't use swaddles for too long, it doesn't make sense to go overboard.
Sleep consultants say your baby only needs 3-6 swaddle blankets, depending on their routine.
If your baby is a notorious blow-outer, you might need more. You might also need more if you prefer not to do regular laundry (we know you're busy!) But ideally, you'd only need 3-6: one or two for your baby to use at that moment, one or two in the laundry, and one or two for emergencies. I found this article to be super honest and helpful.
There's no hard and fast rule to figuring out how many swaddles you'll need, though. Some moms use only 3, some use up to 20. Some moms do laundry every day, some once a week.
If you're unsure, it's a safe bet to start with 3-6 swaddles and adapt when you become familiar with your baby's routine. You can always buy more if you need them, and having a few extra on hand is a good thing (remember those blanket forts in the future!).
Parker Baby's Swaddle Blankets come in 3-packs, so you'll know all your bases are covered when you order one or two of our collections. We designed them to be more like receiving blankets, so they're really versatile to fit your baby's needs at all hours of the day. Here are some of our designs:
We also love Aden and Anais Swaddle Blankets (they come in packs of 1, 2, 3, or 4). If you know you only need one or two more swaddles, they have you covered.
Just remember, your baby will only use swaddle blankets for swaddling during the first 2-4 months of their lives. Swaddling your baby during nighttime after they are 2 months old increases the risk of SIDS and suffocation. So the question arises:
What should I use when my baby outgrows their swaddle blanket?
If your baby is outgrowing their swaddle and needs a sleeping alternative, my family loved Sleep Sacks. This article lists all the best brands and designs to fit any baby's style!
My mom's favorite were Zipadee-Zip Sleep Sacks. They have swaddle blankets and swaddle transitions (sleep sacks) to help transition your baby out of swaddles and into pajamas. Super easy to use with a gliding zipper. So cute and stylish, too!
Sleep Sacks are safer alternatives for your baby as they grow because they keep your baby secure while they sleep, while allowing them enough movement to get into a safe position if they roll over. Plus, they're stinking adorable.
As your baby gets older, Baby Quilts are a great replacement for your toddler so they can still have a cozy blanket they can cherish, but it won't put them in danger. Just be careful to not let your baby sleep with a blanket until they are at least 12 months old (letting them sleep with a quilt earlier could be dangerous for them).
Bigger quilts are perfect for security blankets, though! Kids love having something snuggly to carry with them at home, in the car, or when they're feeling nervous (and a swaddle blanket might be a little small as they get bigger).
So now you know allll about swaddle blankets, but you still have to make a decision. To make it a little easier for you, we thought of what you might want to consider when buying your baby's first swaddles!
How do I pick the best swaddle blanket?
Here are some factors to consider when picking a swaddle for your sweet babe:
- Make sure your swaddling blanket is at least 47x47". Babies come in all shapes and sizes, but this size is standard and usually fits most kiddos.
- Don't be afraid to get a quality swaddle blanket (and splurge a little). The better material your swaddle is made of, the longer it will last!
Don't know how to swaddle yet? No need to worry. Your midwife or doctor will show you how it's done at the hospital, so no need to panic about finding the easiest swaddling device because you don't know how yet. You can also watch this video and check out our graphic on how to swaddle if you're curious!
- Pro tip: Start with 3-6 swaddle blankets before your baby is born & purchase more as you need. You'll become familiar with your baby's routine soon after they're born, but 3-6 swaddle blankets is a safe bet for the first one or two weeks.
Ultimately, even if you might not have the 'right amount of Swaddle Blankets,' it doesn't mean you're a bad mom. Being a new parent is a learning process! Give yourself some grace. Do what's best for you and your precious babe, and everything will fall into place. And do yourself a favor buy getting some swaddles for your sweet kiddo;)