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Receiving Blankets vs Swaddles: Which One Does Your Baby Need?

Receiving Blankets vs Swaddles: Which One Does Your Baby Need?

How do you know if you need a receiving blanket or swaddle for your baby? The main difference between receiving blankets and swaddles is their shape and how they’re used. Receiving blankets are versatile, while swaddles use different designs, features, or fasteners to keep your baby wrapped securely. Read on for more details! 

What is a Receiving Blanket?

A receiving blanket is a small, thin blanket that has been a beloved staple in nurseries for generations—it’s also called a swaddle blanket. This soothing security blanket is a catch-all for many of your baby's needs.

These soft and cozy blankets were initially designed to "receive" the newest family member, swaddling them snugly before being placed in their mama's loving arms for the first time. The compact design of receiving blankets makes them incredibly practical for several uses.

They are just the right size to swaddle your baby, provide an extra layer of warmth, act as a car seat cover, offer a clean surface for outdoor play or diaper changes on the go, and even double as a nursing cover. Receiving blankets offer convenience for you and security and comfort for your little bubs—you will use them all the time, especially during your baby's first year!

Nest Designs swaddle blanket

Can My Baby Sleep with a Receiving Blanket?

While receiving blankets are undeniably soft and soothing, safety always comes first for your little one's slumber. The general advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is to keep all items (including blankets) away from your baby during sleep until they are approximately one year old.

Safe sleep guidelines recommend that babies sleep in a crib or bassinet with only a firm mattress and fitted sheet. Loose bedding, including receiving blankets, should be kept out of the crib to reduce the risk of suffocation. Instead, use a swaddle sleep bag, sleep sack, or wearable blanket to keep your little love at the right temperature and snoozing soundly without compromising their safety.

Nest Designs swaddle sleep bag

How Many Receiving Blankets Do Babies Need?

Every household has unique needs for receiving blankets. The number of blankets you need can vary, but having six to eight to start is often a good balance.

The number of receiving blankets your little one requires largely depends on four factors:

  1. Newborn requirements: Your little bubs goes through a fair share of laundry when you account for spit-up, diaper leaks, and other spills or messes. Having four to six clean receiving blankets on hand is a good starting point, and you can increase or decrease this number as you find your rhythm as a new parent.
  2. How you plan to use the blankets: Should you only use the receiving blankets as swaddles, covers, or a clean surface for tummy time, you need fewer blankets. Once you start using receiving blankets to wipe up messes or as a surface for changing diapers, you must pack extra blankets in your diaper bag. 
  3. Your laundry schedule: If you want to do laundry less often, having a few extra receiving blankets on hand offers convenience. However, if you stay on top of this chore, you need fewer receiving blankets. 
  4. The temperature: In cooler areas or homes, extra blankets ensure you can keep your little love warm and toasty with additional layers.

You may also want to include quality over quantity as a consideration in the number of receiving blankets you have for your little one. Parents who prioritize premium products, eco-friendly materials, and high quality may have fewer receiving blankets, but they typically endure more washes better and maintain their softness and durability, reducing the need for frequent replacements. 

Nest Designs swaddle blanket

What is a Swaddle?

A swaddle or swaddle sleep bag is a purpose-built baby blanket designed to provide tiny babies with calm, soothing and secure conditions—similar to the comfort they felt in the womb. Swaddling is the age-old practice of wrapping your little love tightly (but not too tightly) in a soft, breathable blanket, exposing only their head. (Learn how to swaddle a baby.)

Swaddling helps restrict your baby’s limb movement, preventing the startle reflex that can often rouse them from sleep. Consider these another type of security blanket, as your little one feels safe and loved wrapped inside them. Wrapping your little bub in a swaddle helps them relax and sleep safely, so you can unwind. 

Nest Designs swaddle sleep bag

3 Types of Baby Swaddles

Parents can choose from three types of swaddles to provide their little ones with the perfect sleeping conditions:

  1. Traditional Swaddling Blankets

Traditional swaddles are receiving blankets. Classic and lightweight, traditional swaddling blankets require expert wrapping skills to create a snug cocoon for your baby. This method allows for a customized, gentle swaddle tailored to your baby's specific needs.

  1. Sleep Bag Swaddles

Sleep bag swaddles offer the same comforting benefits as traditional swaddles but are incredibly user-friendly. No need to fold, wrap, or fuss with loose fabric; these sacks simplify the swaddling process with zippers, Velcro closures, or fabric pouch. Many also have a two-way zipper for easy nighttime diaper changes. Babies can upgrade to regular sleep sacks when they no longer need to be wrapped up. (Read more about baby sleep sacks)

The adaptable Nest Designs Organic Cotton Startle Stop Sleep Bag is an excellent option for parents looking for a top-quality swaddle sleep bag. It has removable sleeves and wings, designed to grow with your baby's sleep development. It combines the security of swaddling with the convenience of a sleep sack, ensuring your baby gets a peaceful night's rest (and you do, too!).

Nest Designs startle stop sleep bag

  1. Swaddle Pods

These swaddles offer a modern twist with a compressive zippered pouch enveloping the baby, arms and all. This snug fit creates a cocoon-like experience, promoting peaceful sleep and a cozy feeling.

Receiving Blankets vs Swaddles: What's the Difference? 

The main difference between receiving blankets and swaddles is their primary purpose. Receiving blankets are large and more square-shaped; they’re designed to be versatile and multi-functional. In contrast, swaddles are specifically crafted for the art of swaddling, providing a secure and snug wrap to soothe and comfort your baby during sleep.

While it's not necessary to have both types, swaddles and receiving blankets each offer unique benefits that cater to different aspects of your baby's needs and your lifestyle. You can use a receiving blanket to swaddle your little bubs, but a swaddle is purpose-built and can’t replace a versatile receiving blanket.

Receiving blankets are known for their exceptional versatility. They can serve as burp cloths, but their usefulness extends far beyond that. Other uses for these blankets include:

  • Stroller or car seat covers to protect from the elements
  • A traditional swaddle
  • Nursing covers for added privacy and comfort
  • Creating a clean surface for diaper changes
  • A makeshift playmat for tummy time or outdoor excursions
  • Added warmth if the temperature is cooler than you expect
  • A cute photo backdrop 
  • And more

Nest Designs swaddle blanket

On the other hand, swaddles provide a specific and well-structured approach to ensuring your baby's sleep, comfort, and security. There are many swaddle designs and unique features that keep your baby cozy and secure, including:

  • Velcro wings
  • Zipper closure
  • Fabric pouch
  • Snaps
  • And more

Nest Designs swaddle sleep bag

What Material is Best for Receiving Blankets?

Choosing the right material for receiving blankets ensures your baby's comfort and safety. For the best receiving blankets, consider soft, sustainable, and eco-friendly materials like organic cotton and bamboo.

Organic cotton is free from harmful chemicals, making it gentle on your baby's delicate skin. It's also breathable and durable, ensuring longevity and softness through countless washes. 

Bamboo receiving blankets are a sustainable and eco-friendly choice and are naturally hypoallergenic, moisture-wicking, and incredibly soft.

At Nest Designs, we prioritize premium quality and sustainability in our baby products so your little bub enjoys safe, healthy, and comfortable sleep. (Learn more about our eco-friendly fabrics.)

Nest Designs swaddle blanket fabric

Trusted Comfort for Your Little Love

Selecting a receiving blanket or swaddle is a thoughtful decision that can enhance your baby's comfort and safety—and even provide the soothing conditions they need to doze off.

Nest Designs offers a range of luxurious and sustainable receiving blankets and swaddles made from premium materials that are healthy for your little one and the planet.

Shop Nest Designs Swaddle Blankets