Safe sleep recommendations state that your baby should not have loose blankets in their crib until they are at least 12 months old.
However this does not mean you don’t need any baby blankets at all, because they offer many other benefits including keeping your baby warm, aiding tummy time, enabling swaddling and depending on the design, they can even help with brain development!
But how many baby blankets do you really need, and how many is too many?
What are the best materials, and should they be washed before use?
Let’s find out.
Table of Contents
- 6 Different Types Of Baby Blankets
- How Many Receiving Blankets Do I Need?
- How Many Swaddles Do I Need?
- How Many Sleep Sacks Do I Need?
- Baby Blanket Materials
- Washing Before Use
- How Big Should A Baby Blanket Be?
- When Can Babies Sleep With Blankets?
- Conclusion: How Many Baby Blankets Do I Need?
6 Different Types Of Baby Blankets
Confused about the difference between a receiving blanket vs swaddle, swaddling blankets vs receiving blankets and where milestone or sensory blankets fit in?
If you answered yes then you’re certainly not alone, because it can be pretty confusing for new parents to get to grips with the different types of baby blankets that are available.
Here are six of the most common types, with definitions and recommended usage to help simplify things for you:
1. Receiving Blanket
They are one of the most common types out there, but what is a receiving blanket exactly?
Receiving blankets (which include muslins) are usually square-shaped, made of fairly thin material and come in many different styles and colors.
The great thing about receiving blankets is that they are inexpensive and due to their multi-purpose nature they can be used for many things including:
- Placing on top of a changing mat to keep your baby warm during a diaper change
- Nursing cover while breastfeeding or pumping
- Burp cloth
- Block direct sun from entering a baby’s stroller
This last point is important because rather than applying sunscreen, babies under 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight to protect against damaging their very delicate skin.
2. Swaddling Blanket
As the name suggests, swaddling blankets are made specifically for swaddling your baby.
As a quick reminder, swaddling is a way of wrapping a baby in a blanket, with the idea being it replicates the feeling of being in mommy’s womb.
Swaddling blankets come with different features such as zippers, velcro and wings, all of which are designed to help you swaddle your baby.
According to many pediatricians, swaddling can help a baby feel calm and can promote better sleep because it keeps the startle (or Moro) reflex in check.
One very important thing to mention here is that swaddling has an age limit.
You should only swaddle a newborn who cannot roll over, because if they end up face-down in their swaddle there could be a suffocation risk.
Most babies learn to roll over at around 3 – 4 months old, which is when swaddling should stop.
3. Sleep Sacks
Also known as wearable blankets or sleep bags, a sleep sack is a wearable garment designed to keep your baby at a comfortable temperature during sleep.
Sleep sacks keep your baby’s torso, legs, and feet within the sack, and they stay on even if your baby moves around a lot in their crib.
These sacks are normally made from cotton and are safest when sleeveless, which we’ll cover in more detail shortly.
Sleep sacks have zippers and snaps to make it easy to get your baby dressed for bed, and for making diaper changes as easy as possible, especially in a dark room.
4. Security Blanket
Also known as a “blankie”, these are made for cuddling and designed to comfort and soothe your baby.
They often have a cute stuffed animal attached to the top and are usually very soft to touch.
Because they look adorable, are relatively inexpensive and come in various designs and colors, they make an excellent baby gift, so you may receive several from friends and family once your baby is born!
5. Milestone Blankets
These can come in a variety of styles and materials, and are great for taking personalized photos and can be useful for tummy time.
As the name suggests, milestone blankets are great to keep track of your baby’s development by taking regular photos at various ages or at significant moments.
6. Sensory Blankets
Sensory and development blankets are designed to engage and stimulate your baby and come in a variety of colors, materials and textures.
Sensory or brain-development blankets can be great for calming your baby and reducing their stress levels.
How Many Receiving Blankets Do I Need?
If you include burp cloths and muslins, then you may need 5-10 (or even more if your baby has reflux) receiving blankets in total.
If you’re not sure, start out with 4-6 and then assess whether you need some extras.
How Many Swaddles Do I Need?
Many parents find that they need at least 3-4 swaddles for their baby, although the exact number will depend on their laundry schedule and temperature variance.
How Many Sleep Sacks Do I Need?
How you dress your baby for sleep in summer can be very different to winter depending on where you live.
As a minimum, you will need 2 sleep sacks, but you may need 3 to 6 sacks depending on your baby’s yearly room temperature variance and your laundry schedule.
Baby Blanket Materials
Baby and toddler blankets come in a variety of different materials to ensure parents have something suitable for all seasons and usage occasions.
Some of the most popular materials used to make baby blankets and swaddle / sleep sacks include:
- Cotton: an excellent material for babies because it’s soft, durable, easy to clean and perfect for sensitive skin (especially if organic).
- Bamboo: a soft, breathable material that has a natural stretch and is hypoallergenic.
- Fleece: a warm yet breathable material that helps keep your baby the right temperature in winter without overheating.
- Muslin: given its thinness, muslin is perfect for hot weather and summer swaddling.
- Linen: very breathable fabric which is ideal for summer as it will help prevent your baby from overheating.
Washing Before Use
Yes, it’s a good idea to wash both new and second-hand blankets before use.
In fact, because there may be hidden dust or dirt particles on blankets, and they may have been in contact with other irritants in storage, you should wash all of your baby’s clothes and other washable items before use.
How Big Should A Baby Blanket Be?
Overall, the size of baby blanket that you will need will depend on its purpose.
For example, one that will be used on the ground to provide a soft and clean space for tummy time will need to be larger than one used for burping.
Similarly, blankets that you will use to cover yourself and your baby while breastfeeding will be bigger than a blanket used to swaddle a small newborn.
So it’s probably a good idea to have some in a variety of different sizes, so you have something suitable for all occasions and for when your baby grows older.
When Can Babies Sleep With Blankets?
Conclusion: How Many Baby Blankets Do I Need?
As you can see, there is no simple answer to how many baby blankets you will need for your little one, because it comes down to several factors.
On average, you may need 10 or more, but some parents will need a lot more than this.
Here are three other things to consider to help you determine how many blankets you need for your baby:
Just as with baby bibs, the number of baby blankets that you need to buy will heavily depend on your household’s laundry schedule.
If you have easy access to a washing machine and dryer and plan to do laundry several times per week, then you will clearly need fewer blankets compared to someone with limited time or access to doing laundry.
Another key factor to consider is the degree to which the weather (or more specifically the temperature) varies wherever you live.
If you live somewhere with a big variance in air temperatures (think hot summers and cold winters), then you will need several different versions of the same blanket or sleep sack with varying TOG levels.
If you’re not familiar with TOG ratings, TOG stands for Thermal Overall Grade, which is a standardized measurement that helps you figure out how warm or insulated a garment is.
3. Sleeping Preferences
Do you plan to swaddle your baby for the first few months, either in a swaddling blanket or a swaddle sack?
Or will you move straight to a sleep sack and skip the swaddling altogether?
The answer to these questions will help you figure out how many sleeping blankets your baby will need and whether you even need swaddling blankets or swaddle sacks at all.
As a reminder sleep sacks are safe for babies of all ages including newborns, whereas swaddle sacks are only safe for babies that cannot roll over (usually up to 3-4 months old).