Just a few weeks before giving birth, I constantly asked myself, “Exactly how many blankets does a newborn need?”
After much ruminating, shopping and I finally came up with a number. A new mother should have twenty blankets ready to swaddle, comfort and warm her newborn.
This was the consequence of reading all about swaddle blankets, muslin blankets and sleep sacks. In addition, there are numerous other types of baby blankets to consider including plush blankets, minky blankets and even blankets with stuffed animals attached.
The list of blankets that a new mom needs seemed almost endless! In order to save expectant mothers a whole lot of time Googling “baby blankets”, I have put together a short list here for you that is divided into six categories:
- Swaddling Blankets
- Receiving Blankets
- Newborn Photo Prop Blankets
- Special Keepsake Blankets
- Wearable Blankets
- Regular Blankets
Of course, there is no definitive number for how many baby blankets you will need for your infant, as how many baby blankets you can acquire might depend on your budget and other factors such as your baby’s temperament.
It might also depend on whether you plan to have a newborn photo shoot and whether or not you have your own laundry facilities. If it takes a week for you to get to a laundromat, you might need as many as fifty swaddles or burping cloths a day just to get you through.
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A swaddle blanket can be called a security blanket, as it keeps the baby both safe and calm.
The blanket is a square, usually made of a soft material such as cotton or muslin that is wrapped tightly around the newborn from head to toe. The tightness reminds your infant of when it was in the womb, and protects sensitive skin from surfaces with rough contact.
Swaddling nurtures a much calmer baby that is less likely to flail or kick when it is hungry or waking up for a nap. The baby is effectively immobilized, allaying any fears that he can accidentally hit himself with fists or roll over and get caught in the rails of a crib.
Light Muslin Blankets
Muslin swaddling blankets are made of loose fabric and are suitable for a newborn’s sensitive skin. As many as four muslin blankets can be wrapped around an infant to make it feel safe and secure.
Muslin blankets were my favorite swaddles for my baby when I was out in public. I used them to create shade over my baby’s face and by draping it over the baby carriage hood to protect her from the sun.
Muslin swaddling blankets also make ideal nursing covers. They can be draped over your shoulder and over your chest and the baby’s face if you are breastfeeding in public.
They are also sheer enough so that you can see what you are doing while feeding, as well as offer the baby a bit of light and air.
Swaddles make great burping cloths. The cotton swaddling blankets are a lot better to use for this purpose, simply because they are more utilitarian in appearance and easy to just throw in the wash.
Muslin baby blankets are delicate and stain easier, so stick using cotton cloths to burp your baby.
If you don’t like the idea of swaddling your baby in the same cotton cloth that you use to catch their spit ups, then you can buy a pack of commercial burp cloths instead.
The “receiving blanket” got its name from the hospital. These thin cotton squares are what newborn babies are wrapped in when they are first presented to their parents in the maternity ward.
These soft baby blankets usually come stamped with stripes around their border or printed with a fun pattern.
You can buy these receiving blankets quite cheaply in multi-packs and use them for all kinds of purposes, including as burp cloths, bibs or temporary bed sheets for your crib.
Newborn Photo Prop Blankets
Some types of baby blankets do double duty as photo prop blankets, for when it is time to take your newborn’s first official portrait.
Dyed Light Muslin
Light muslim that is dyed a rainbow color or in a pretty pastel pink or blue are often used for photo shoots.
The weave in muslin blankets used for photography tends to be quite loose. The intention is to make the baby look like it is lying on a soft pillow of clouds.
Crochet baby blankets are often used as backdrops in baby photography, especially if it was hand-crocheted by Grandma. Heirloom crocheted backdrops tend to be a blanket made of crocheted squares, which can also be used as a coverlet in the crib, or as a playmat for the child.
The latest trend in crochet is to use extra large needles to create blankets with very thick rope sized yarn.These blankets can also be used for warmth during cold weather, but they are too heavy to use in the crib of a newborn. Some crocheted blankets are two inches thick!
Needle Felted Fur
Needle felted fur is a thick pelt of shaggy fabric that makes it appear like your baby is posed in a shaggy nest. This type of posing blanket comes in as many colors as felt does.
The needle felted blanket is very lush and thick, but not meant at all for use in the crib as the long fronds of felt could be a choking hazard.
Posing your baby nude on a cozy fake fur throw is a fun fad in baby photography. Fun fur comes in all of the animal pelt colors including brown, black and white.
Keep your eye on your baby if using fake fur as a photo top. Your infant could easily pull fur out of the fabric with a clenched fist and try to put it in its mouth. Fake fur should never be allowed in a cradle as it presents a choking hazard.
Sherpa blankets are very thick blankets that have heavy cotton fabric on one side and combed fleece on the other. The fluffy side of the blanket resembles lamb’s wool or a fluffy cloud, so they are a favorite baby photo prop.
Sherpa blankets are technically classified as a couch throw that could be used as a baby blanket.
However, sherpa blankets should not be used in a crib as their thickness poses a smothering risk.
Special Keepsake Blankets
Keepsake blankets are meant to mark special occasions, such as the baby’s birth, baptism or first birthday. Some are presented to the mommy to congratulate her for having a baby.
A personalized blanket is one that has been embroidered, stitched or printed to present information such as the baby’s initials or birthdate, or the baby’s name.
Personalized baby blankets are also fancied up with details such as tassels or pom poms or photos of the baby or mom that have been silkscreened directly onto the fabric.
Stuffed Animal Attached Blankets
A blanket with a stuffed animal head attached to it seems like a great idea, but they are not recommended for use in an infant’s crib.
A stuffed animal head should not be used as a pillow. That is not safe for a newborn. Most stuffed animal heads tend to have eyes or noses that could be pulled off and present a choking hazard.
If you decide to use a stuffed animal blanket as a photo prop, be sure to keep a close eye on your child to make sure he is not overwhelmed by the animal.
Wearable blankets are part garment, part blanket. The blanket looks like a dress with a hole for the head to slip through, as well as arm holes, but the hem is sewn up by a zipper.
This gives the appearance of the baby being in a bag. When it is time to change a diaper, you unzip the hem at the base and open the bag up.
Sleep sacks are basically sleeping bags for babies. Sometimes they have zippers or cross-over flaps with Velcro that allow you to secure your baby very tightly inside.
Sleep sacks are usually well insulated and perfect if you want to take your baby outside for air in the winter time. They offer a very tight safe swaddle that induces sleep.
There is a wide variety of regular blankets that can also be used as swaddlers as long as they are the right size and do not have a texture that is too rough on a newborn’s sensitive skin.
You should also note that the fewer blankets in a crib the better, as they can be a smothering risk.
A minky blanket is a thick blanket that is simply meant to keep a baby warm. The fibers on a minky are very short, but they are still fibers, so it is best to wrap your baby up in a cotton swaddle before using it as a cover.
These warm blankets are made of brushed fleece and polyester, and called minkys because they have such a luxurious soft feel. Often they are laid on the floor as a soft place to sleep.
Thermal blankets are the shiny, metallic blankets that are used to keep victims warm during an emergency. They are thin enough to swaddle an infant. One should always be kept in your car, in case you are stranded with your infant in a storm.
My answer to this question of how many baby blankets a new mother should own is twenty (give or take a few blankets.)
At a minimum, a new mother should have ten receiving blankets, four muslin swaddles and four plush blankets. For feeding, additional blankets come in handy to clean up messes.
In addition, a wearable blanket, like a sleep sack, is also useful. Throw the emergency thermal blanket in for the count and you have twenty necessary blankets.
Any other blankets, such as a fake fur or needle felted blanket are strictly for show.
You do not have to collect as many baby blankets as I did for my newborn . I put together this list so that you can cherry pick the blankets that you feel you might need from my selections.