Do you need a lot of swaddle blankets?
Asking questions like “how many swaddle blankets do I need” is a good way for new moms to prevent having to have a huge garage sale that includes a crazy number of blankets (and other brand-new unused things) when baby turns two!
It’s no secret that swaddling can be a great way help your newborn baby sleep soundly… but when we’re preparing for a new baby, it can be tempting to over-buy (and over-spend) by stocking up on baby items that will go un-used over time.
If you have a washing machine and if you DON’T plan on using your “good” swaddle blankets as burp cloths, you only need 3 or 4 good quality muslin swaddle blankets.
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These are my favorite muslin swaddles, and the ones I always buy as baby gifts, because I know people will actually use and appreciate them. (If you put a couple on your baby registry, you might not even need to buy any for yourself!)
If you plan to use only cotton receiving blankets as swaddles (which you totally can do) AND burp cloths, I think it’s nice to have more – a good number would be around 10 – because of course they get dirty during the day and they won’t be clean to swaddle baby at night.
Let me explain why I think you should only invest in 3 or 4 nice swaddle blankets –
First, know that you won’t be “swaddling” your baby for too long
Swaddling is wrapping baby tightly, pinning baby’s arms inside the blanket, to give them a sense of security in the newborn stage.
After 9 months in the womb, baby is not used to being able to fling their arms and legs around – swaddling prevents baby’s movements / startle reflex from waking them! You might find swaddling calms your fussy baby right down.
This baby in the picture is swaddled:
Here’s a great tutorial on how to swaddle properly in a few simple steps. (This tutorial demonstrates different types of swaddles, we used the diamond swaddle for our babies. It was so simple to me, that was absolutely our favorite way to swaddle.)
It’s not advised to put baby to sleep with loose blankets, so swaddling can keep baby warm in a colder climate without increasing the risk of sids from loose bedding.
Most babies enjoy being swaddled, although I have run into a baby here and there that didn’t like it. (Some babies just don’t follow the rules LOL.) Our first loved it for as long as we could do it (you should stop swaddling when baby begins to roll over, generally this is around 3 or 4 months of age – because then the blanket can pose a suffocation risk), but our first was done with the swaddle much sooner.
This means that you – assuming your baby likes to be swaddled – will only use swaddle blankets for swaddling for a FEW MONTHS. You’ll also probably end up with a handful of favorites that you use over and over, and if you have more than 3 or 4 swaddle blankets, you will end up with a LOT of unused blankets!
The fact that you’ll only use them briefly doesn’t mean they’ll never be used again, however.
You can use swaddle blankets for SO many things –
Large swaddle blankets make great car seat covers while baby is still in a bucket seat, or they can be used as a stroller cover when baby takes a nap on the go.
They’re nice to put on the floor for tummy time (although you can do this with literally ANY blanket, and if you have hard floors, you’d probably want a thick blanket instead. Swaddles are usually a thin blanket.).
Of course, they CAN be used as burp clothes if you need something to dry off in a pinch. All around, they’re good to take with you if you’re leaving the house with a newborn.
I used mine as a nursing cover for breastfeeding in public, and my (now bigger) kids regularly use my good aden+anais muslin swaddles as super hero capes now that they are older. So it’s not like they’re just gathering dust just because we’re done swaddling. LOL.
Swaddle blankets vs Swaddle sacks
I FAR prefer swaddle blankets to swaddle sacks.
Swaddle sacks are specially designed “bags” (like a wearable blanket) you put your babies in that have “wings” that basically take the work out of swaddling. (Not that it’s much work!) They’re touted as a very useful item.
I personally think swaddle sacks are a waste of money. They are NOT a new baby necessity!
They can be used for ONE PURPOSE – swaddling babies for sleep for the first couple months – where as you can use swaddle blankets for all the things that we talked about above after you’re done swaddling… Swaddle sacks will be sitting in a drawer by the time your baby is 4 months old, but your 3-4 muslin blankets will be in use for the fist 18 months – two years of your baby’s life.
This is a baby in a swaddle sack:
(Swaddle sacks are different than sleep sacks – sleep sacks are for slightly older babies and they are not “tight” – babies can move their bodies in sleep sacks.)
Swaddling blanket vs receiving blanket – what’s the difference?
Swaddling blankets and receiving blankets are essentially the same thing, but traditionally receiving blankets are cotton squares, and not quite as large as swaddle blankets. They are not as nice as a car seat cover or stroller blanket, or using as a nursing cover because they are usually smaller.
The material they’re made with is generally more absorbent, however, and therefore better for wiping up spit-up. They also launder better (cotton is just more durable than muslin). I prefer to have some receiving blankets on hand to use as burp cloths!
Because they launder better, cheap receiving blankets are a good idea to have tucked in your diaper bag to place under baby for diaper changes in a public restroom.
You can get a pack of receiving blankets on Amazon or at Wal-Mart for literally just a couple dollars per blanket, so you can have more of these on hand without investing nearly as much.
Muslin swaddles DO NOT make great burp cloths – receiving blankets are far better for this!
Should you use swaddle blankets as burp cloths?
If a pinch, you can ABSOLUTELY use your nice swaddle blankets as burp cloths. (However, as I mentioned earlier, muslin is not as absorbent as cotton and the material isn’t as durable, so laundering them daily isn’t a great idea.)
If you use your good swaddle blankets as burp cloths, you’ll end up needing more than 3 or 4 – which honestly is not very cost effective if you’re buying really nice swaddles.
My first baby puked EVERY TIME I fed him for 9 months, no matter what I fed him. And, he spit up a LOT (like large quantities of puke, not small quantities). So, if baby ate 12 times, we used 12 spit up cloths. (I definitely don’t think you should run out and buy a dozen receiving blankets right away – wait and see if your baby pukes a lot lol.)
It’s better to have fewer blankets (and end up buying more) than to have a box of unused blankets
Don’t get overwhelmed with all the types of baby blankets – or too worried about the number of swaddles to have on hand.
If you just have 3 or so nice swaddles on hand at baby’s arrival, that truly will be enough.
New babies need so much less than we think – since you’re in the planning stage for, here’s a list of how many baby clothes your newborn needs!