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How to pick the right baby blanket size

Maressa Brown
Feb. 8, 2019

One of the most traditional and beautiful items a newborn can receive is a baby blanket. It’s no wonder mothers, grandmothers, aunts and other loved ones think of the item as a go-to as a baby shower or birth gift. After all, a baby blanket is often more than just a cover to keep your little one warm. Handmade blankets can become family heirlooms that a child will cherish for years to come.

“Blankets are helpful adjuncts to clothes or toys, and babies are often wrapped in blankets to keep them cozy over the first few months of life,” says Dr. Danelle Fisher, FAAP and chief of Pediatrics at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.

That said, before making or gifting a blanket, it’s wise to consider the various types and average sizes of blankets, as they can be used for a variety of purposes — from receiving to serving as a lovie/security blanket to swaddling. You’ll also want to take certain safety rules of thumb into consideration.

Here are blanket must-knows for parents or loved ones looking to help keep a L.O. snuggly and safe.

Basic blanket safety

Following the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)’s guidance on blanket safety is key for keeping a little one safe. A baby should be placed on his or her back on a firm sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet. Soft bedding, like crib bumpers, blankets, pillows, and soft toys should not be used in the crib. The crib should be bare.

“Parents must ensure there are absolutely no loose blankets in [a baby’s] crib,” says Dr. Gina Posner, pediatrician at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California. “You don't want anything that can be pulled over the face, potentially suffocating the baby.”

Blanket materials

Fisher notes that the best blanket materials will depend on what kind of blanket you’re looking to make or buy. Taking a child’s age into consideration is a factor here, as well.

“Blankets for newborns should be made of fabric that is easy to wrap around into a swaddle,” she says. “Often blankets made of cotton muslin swaddle are better than blankets made of fleece. Fleece blankets may end up making the baby too hot, so beware of using them over strollers or in cars, where infants can overheat.”

Another material that can work for any type of blanket is soft, washable, breathable cotton, which is unlikely to irritate a baby’s sensitive skin.

Swaddle blankets

The practice of swaddling, or wrapping a light blanket snuggly around a baby, is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to help calm a crying baby.

Fisher agrees that newborns require specific blankets for this purpose.

“Newborns need blankets for warmth and also to help them sleep through the reactions of their nervous system, which manifest as the startle or Moro reflex, where their arms suddenly move out to the sides and then around,” she says.

A thin and lightweight material, like cotton muslin, is ideal for a swaddle blanket. Sizes can vary, as they’re often meant to fit babies of different sizes. Popular Ziggy Baby Muslin Swaddle Blankets are 48-by-48 inches, while other companies, like SwaddleMe, offer a 40-by-40 size.

Just be sure the blanket is large enough. Having enough material to work with to ensure you get the swaddle just right might make the process easier.

“When they are infants, a thin, big swaddle blanket is best,” Posner says.

Receiving blankets

Receiving blankets are thin blankets, usually sold in a pack of two or four, that can be used for a variety of tasks related to early infancy. They’re usually smaller than standard swaddling blankets, typically ranging  in size from a small 18-inch square to a larger 36-inch square. That said, your little one might outgrow a smaller receiving blanket rather quickly, but it might serve as a lovie/security blanket down the road.

Crib blankets

“There should absolutely be no loose blankets in cribs under the age of 1,” Posner says.

After that, however, parents may choose to keep their little one warm at night with a crib blanket. Generally rectangular in size and measuring around 40 inches by 60 inches, so that it fully covers a toddler in their crib (or ultimately, toddler bed), this blanket should be free of loose threads, buttons, yarns and large holes that can pose a safety risk for little ones.

Multi-use blankets

When you're traveling with your baby, stroller blankets and activity blankets are essential items. A thick activity blanket can be used to provide a cushioned, clean surface for your baby to crawl and play. And the same blanket can double as a stroller or car seat cover during the chillier months! Multi-use blankets might measure in at roughly 30-40 inches.

Multi-use blankets may also serve as a lovie for a toddler.

“Toddlers often use blankets for comfort objects,” Fisher says. “Blankets for toddlers should be small enough for the toddler to easily manipulate, so they don't have the danger of suffocation.”

Baby blanket size guide

Type

Size

Swaddle blankets

40x40 to 48x48 (approx.)

Receiving blankets

18-inch square to a 36-inch square

Crib blankets

40 inches by 60 inches

Multi-use blankets

30 to 40 inches

 

Baby blanket how-tos

How to make a swaddle blanket: This 40-by-40 DIY fleece swaddle blanket from Rookie Moms is truly straightforward. This cotton gauze swaddle blanket tutorial from Must Have Mom is also simple to follow and easily personalized.

How to make a receiving blanket: This receiving blanket tutorial from Little House Living is a simple pattern that takes just 10 minutes, requiring two yards of flannel fabric and matching thread. If you're interested in making a larger blanket, you can try the extra-large reversible receiving blanket from Happy Hooligans. Double-layer blankets work great in the chilly winter months.

Summer babies will need lighter blankets, like the single-layer receiving blanket from Blue Cricket Design.

How to make a crib blanket: Any receiving blanket pattern can be altered to a larger size for a crib blanket. You can use Moogly's loop blanket tutorial to make a soft, cuddly crocheted blanket that’s appropriate for a toddler. For winter use, you may want to go with a thicker option, like the crib quilt by Awaiting Ada. And if you want to design a crib blanket to match the decor of your little one's bedroom, you can try the custom crib blanket by Live Like You Are Rich.

How to make a multi-use blanket: You can easily make a multi-use blanket without sewing. This fleece one by The Frugal Girls is a good go-to for those who want to go the no-sew route. But if crocheting is an option, The Spruce Crafts also offers several crochet baby blanket tutorials.

Read next: Birthing videos to prep you for the big day

Comments
Sandra in Houston, TX
Aug. 29, 2018

I sew receiving blankets for newborns and preemies for my charity, Cuddling Care. In Houston Texas we donate to LBJ hospital and Ben Taub hospital. Both hospitals help low income families.

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