advert

Swaddling Blankets: The Good, The Bad & The Useless

May18

by

My first baby did not care for swaddling. We swaddled him dutifully for the first few weeks because that’s simply what we thought we were supposed to do. (I bet if a nurse at the hospital had stuck a self-adhesive Christmas bow on his soft spot I would kept on doing that too.) We gave up on swaddling fairly quickly, though, because we simply didn’t have any blankets to swaddle him with.

This was…weird, to say the least, since I had TWO DRAWERS devoted to baby blankets. Most of them, though, were thin little squares of flannel that were way too small, and even our bigger blankets were no match for the 10-pound newborn I’d birthed. I tried one of those blankets with the velcro and (after spending 10 minutes consulting the instructions) tossed it directly in our DONATE pile after Noah was able to extricate himself from the thing in about 30 seconds flat.

Bounce Back ArchivesEzra, as I think I have mentioned once or twice or FIVE BAJILLION TIMES, was a fan of the swaddling. Big fan. Really big fan. For the first two months or so, he was either in the sling or swaddled pretty much round the clock. It went beyond “he won’t sleep unless he’s swaddled.” It was “he won’t eat unless he’s swaddled” and also “he won’t stop crying unless he’s swaddled.” He didn’t have colic or any obvious digestive problems — he just hated having his arms and legs all free and loose and flailing. After two months, we only had to swaddle him at night or naptime or when he was nursing. Which…HA HA, still meant the kid was wrapped up like a burrito about 16 hours a day.

Needless to say, our swaddling blankets became a few of our most prized possessions. And since I still get questions about whether such-and-such blanket is worth the money or how many blankets should I register for or HALP MY BABY PUNCHES HERSELF IN THE FACE AT NIGHT, I figured it’s time to just put all my Very Important Opinions all in one place.

Let’s start off with THE GOOD:

The Miracle Blanket. This is the Cadillac of swaddling blankets. The Miracle Blanket has a hard-to-kick-out-of foot pouch and extra flaps for securing tucking your baby’s arms down, so it really does resemble a straitjacket. Thing is? Babies love the straitjacket. (BREAKING NEWS: BABIES ARE KIND OF CRAZY.)  My favorite thing about the Miracle Blanket is how easy it was to use (no folding down corners or ending up with lopsided flaps!) and how lightweight the final swaddle was (you don’t want baby to overheat!). My least favorite thing is that it only comes in one size, so yes, your baby will outgrow it after a few months. But oh, what a glorious few months they are! Ezra would be in full-scale screaming freak-out mode and be silent and sleepy by the time we got that final bit of fabric wrapped around his body. We owned three and used them in constant rotation — one on the baby, one in the wash and one in the dryer. Honestly, by the time Ezra outgrew our Miracle Blankets, we’d used them SO MUCH that the seams were completely worn out and starting to come apart. We absolutely got our money’s worth.

aden + anais. So maybe your baby is on the big side and already showing signs of outgrowing his Miracle Blanket, but NOT showing signs of being ready to sleep unswaddled? Well, at this point you can certainly attack some spare bedsheets with the scissors and go for slightly…biblical style of swaddling. Or you treat yourself (and your baby) to a box set of muslin swaddling blankets by aden + anais. These are nice, big blankets — I’d say I could easily still use them for my 23-pound toddler, if he was into it. (I don’t think he’d be into it.) They have a heavier style for cold climates, but again, I liked the lightweight, breathable version. You’ll want to familiarize yourself with the Aussie Swaddle technique on their website if your baby tends to get his arms free a lot. These blankets are also just really nice general-purpose blankets, like for tummy time and nursing or covering up in the stroller, so they’re good to have even if you don’t end up with a please-swaddle-me baby.

THE BAD:

SwaddleMe by Kiddopotamus. Okay, maybe more like “mediocre” since I know a lot of people like them, but I have a little conspiracy theory about babies who tolerate the SwaddleMe: I don’t think they actually care about being swaddled all that much in the first place. Both of my babies were able to bust out of this thing in minutes — the velcro is just not nearly strong enough. And it was never really snug enough for Ezra’s liking (the bottom is more like a loose Sleep Sack than anything). If the Miracle Blanket is just too expensive, you’re really better off tracking down extra-large blankets (Etsy has adorable ones!) than spending money on this single-purpose doohickey. I once talked to a pregnant friend about the glory of the Miracle Blanket and whether she wanted one, and she kind of shrugged and said she planned to re-use her SwaddleMes (she’d barely used with her first baby, but seemed to think they worked okay). Her second baby ended up being just like Ezra and a total Houdini who could open the velcro, and I got an email from her one day that simply said: YOU WERE RIGHT. I HATE THESE. SEND MIRACLE BLANKETS AND/OR DUCT TAPE.

THE USELESS:

Those handy little generic four- or six-packs of square flannel “receiving” blankets that you no doubt registered for (in multiple packs and patterns!) because the checklist at the store told you to. But listen: You don’t really use loose blankets around babies. You either use them to swaddle, or maybe to put on the floor when they play. You might have one favorite little blanket that you use during feeding times, or to drape over the car seat when you head out. (I prefer the zip-on buntings, though, since they don’t get lost or forgotten.) These super thin cheap blankets? These will not be your favorite. You absolutely cannot properly swaddle a baby with them. I remember just loosely wrapping Noah in one while we sat in the rocker…and it didn’t even cover his feet. The floor still felt hard and cold through them when I used them at tummy time. They were far too lightweight to use as a cover outside. By the time either of the boys was old enough to be covered with a blanket at night, these are just way, way too small and skimpy. I don’t know why we all keep registering for them or why everyone keeps buying them for us. Seriously, if you really want some, I have about four dozen of them, still nicely folded in the same dang drawer I put them in FIVE YEARS AGO.

********


If you’re looking for ideas and recommendations for a baby registry, don’t miss our Baby Registry Checklist.

Considering an online baby registry? We recommend Amazon’s Baby Registry, which offers free 90-day returns on baby store purchases. You can even add items from other websites onto to your baby registry.

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


Subscribe to posts by Amalah

40 Responses to “Swaddling Blankets: The Good, The Bad & The Useless”

  1. Rayne of Terror May 18 at 1:51 pm Reply Reply

    I agree on the A&A blankets. I splurged on a 4 pack with my second son and they are wonderful. They are so well constructed and soft.

    I also had a dozen or more of the small thin blankets left from my first son. I found they were great as burp cloths. My second son had reflux and spit up like a geyser for 7 months. I kept a pile of gerber cloth diapers and receiving blankets at my nursing spot to wipe up after him. For a short while I covered myself & the couch up with a beach towel when burping!

  2. Philip (RAOP) May 18 at 2:22 pm Reply Reply

    Nice writeup. We could have used it a few years ago. :-) Our youngest is now 5 months and does fine without being swaddled. All of ours have done okay with the stretchy receiving blankets we were given at the hospital.

    We just decided that when they were old enough and big enough to kick out of them as soon as we laid them down then they were old enough to sleep without being swaddled. It usually made for a rather sleepless night or nap time, but only one. After that they were fine.

    We didn’t have large infants so they were all close to 3 months before this was a problem. I could see the need for a larger, younger infant. Again, Thanks!

  3. From Belgium May 18 at 2:30 pm Reply Reply

    I agree on the velcro straps blankets, they are useless. Especially if you have a child that is obviously training to become a Karate champion later on in life.

  4. Elizabeth May 18 at 2:32 pm Reply Reply

    I swore we were going to send my older son to college with a twin sheet and instructions for his roommate. He’s 3 and still likes piles of covers, which I suspect give him that same feeling. My younger son is 8 months and only sleeps swaddled. We have flannel large blankets (from Target) but I’m thinking of getting the muslin ones for the summer.

  5. Jackie May 18 at 2:33 pm Reply Reply

    I am a big fan of the Woombie. It is even more like a straitjacket than the Miracle Blanket but that is why I liked it. Hmmm, that sounded a bit evil…

  6. Courtney May 18 at 2:41 pm Reply Reply

    Totally agree about the the receiving blankets. They did actually work on our son when he was first born (he was only 5lbs) but not for long. Then we moved on to the Miracle Blanket, which we also wore out.

    He did actually start busting out of that eventually, though, and we ended up getting the Halo Sleep Sack Swaddles. I loved them. They can be used as a sleep sack, or they have this piece of fabric you wrap around their arms and fasten with a huge piece of velcro – there’s no getting out of it. Our son *loved* them, and so did we. We used them until he was about 6 months old, until he started rolling over in his sleep. The day we stopped swaddling was a sad day in our house.

  7. bessie.viola May 18 at 2:46 pm Reply Reply

    We used those light, ubiquitous receiving blankets as burp cloths. SO useless. They’re currently enjoying a second life as doll blankets for my daughter. If/when we have another baby it will be the extra-large Etsy blankets all the way.

  8. Lucy May 18 at 3:54 pm Reply Reply

    When I starting using cloth diapers on our 1 year old, I took all those tiny, useless flannel blankets, folded them up, cut them up, surged the exposed edges and turned them into cloth wipes.

    They work great for cloth wipes, by the way. Not so much for swaddle blankets.

  9. Jaymee May 18 at 3:59 pm Reply Reply

    I LOVED my cheap receiving blankets. They were the easiest thing to swaddle with. I HATED the Miracle Blanket, most useless POS I’ve ever owned. Not only was it not easy to use, my son wiggled his way out of it within the first 15 seconds of having it on.

  10. Lisa M May 18 at 4:08 pm Reply Reply

    Both of my boys had reflux…those cheap flannel blankets were sooo useful as “burping” cloths (more like catch the projectile spit-up cloths). Ummm, and I still use them on the very rare occasions that I dust. Oh, and both boys like to use them when they play with their stuffed animals. But swaddling? Not so much.

    I don’t remember seeing the miracle blanket around with my oldest, and the swaddle me lasted about 5 minutes. But I just made my own (in the middle of the night, desperate measures) with velcro and a really long piece of flannel. No duct tape was involved, I swear. But that worked fine for the oldest. With my younger son, I used the sleep sacks (halo, I think) with the swaddle attachment. Because the velcro connected in the back, the weight of the infant helps hold it in place. Miracle blanket looks nicer, tho. I’d go that route now (so not gonna happen…we’re done, done, done).

  11. Kim May 18 at 4:21 pm Reply Reply

    The MB would’ve been in my useless category, go figure. My first didn’t get swaddled, my second definitely does. My absolute favorite is a SOZO that I thought was just a cutesy baby gift, and turned out to be awesome. It’s a huge rectangle, and it’s stretchy. The girl tries her best wriggles and the material just moves with her. My second favorite was a gift from the hospital. It’s big and shaped like a tee, and it has little surfing babies on it ( I live in a beach town.) The tag says Swaddle Baby ™ which is a hard thing to google. The recieving blankets get used as covers for the nursing pillow, burp cloths, wipes, etc. I find I use them a lot at first, and then not at all.

  12. leanne May 18 at 5:22 pm Reply Reply

    Our 1st hated the swaddle but our second was swaddled until about 2 weeks ago – and he’s nearly 10 months now. He was the same as Ezra – nursing, sleeping, swinging, he HAD to be swaddled to be happy. We loved the Miracle Blanket, and when he grew too big for it, we still used the top part for his arms and left his feet out. Then we would use a large receiving blanket and use the “Happiest Baby on the Block” swaddle technique OVER the Miracle Blanket. It was the only way he wouldn’t wriggle out, and he loved it.

  13. HereWeGoAJen May 18 at 5:35 pm Reply Reply

    We started with the Halo sleep sacks with the swaddle. And when my giant baby grew out of them, I shoved her into them for an extra couple of months. And then when she grew totally out of them and was straining the zippers, I put her into a regular sleep sack and used a strip of an old twin sized sheet to swaddle her arms. (She never cared about her legs being tight.) I blogged about it, with pictures of how to do it, here: http://jenniferelaineg.blogspot.com/2009/05/how-to-swaddle-giant-baby.html

    Also, the SwaddleMes were total junk. Elizabeth could get her arms out of those in less than two seconds.

  14. lizzie May 18 at 5:54 pm Reply Reply

    I have to say that I like my swaddleme and miracle blanket equally…though we have the fleece swaddleme so not using it as much now that the weather is getting warmer. my husband actually prefers that one for ease of use (though it’s not like the miracle blanket is hard to use…!). Also agreed that A&A blankets are nice. As far as other random blankets go, we have one from Baby Soy (http://www.landofnod.com/family.aspx?c=267&f=3781) that we love and use all the time as an extra layer in the car seat, stroller, swing, etc. Very soft, not too warm or too light, great size…

  15. Kelly J May 18 at 6:08 pm Reply Reply

    Love the Aden + Anais blankets (with “Happiest Baby” swaddling technique), but we’ve also discovered The Woombie, and it’s the best thing since sliced bread in my opinion! We had to order the Li’l Houdini version, but they are fantastic! http://www.thewoombie.com/

  16. amy corinne May 18 at 6:12 pm Reply Reply

    I agree with your post, although I did want to say that the flannel Dwell Studio blankets from Target were good for swaddling. They’re bigger than the Luvable Friends or whatever. The A+A blankets are the best though!

  17. Michelle May 18 at 6:27 pm Reply Reply

    Ok, the Miracle blankets may be the greatest thing since sliced bread but I’d wait to see if your baby likes them before shelling out the $$$.
    I used the hospital receiving blankets to swaddle my first son (6.5 pounds) and only from the chest down after the first couple of weeks. And we have a couple stretchy waffle-weave blankets that are awesome for swaddling, imo. The cheap receiving blankets were nice for tossing over the kids in the carseat in the summer. Sometimes the a/c is just a little much for the little ones but a bunting is way too much. I was really tempted to get a Miracle blanket for my 2nd son (10 pounds). I was given one as a gift and a Swaddle Me as well. My 2nd son HATED both of them with a a fiery passion. OMG! He hated them so much. Both my boys basically just wanted their legs swaddled as they liked to sleep with their arms raised. Swaddling the arms after a couple weeks was met with angry screaming baby.

  18. Veronica May 18 at 6:28 pm Reply Reply

    Both my boys LOVE being swaddled. I used the Loving Baby swaddle blanket religiously They have two sizes so that when my oldest got bigger we graduated to the larger size. The design is a no brainer. Tuck and Tie.

  19. Ashley May 18 at 7:06 pm Reply Reply

    I was able to use the cheapie receiving blankets for about a month after my first was born (4 lb 8 oz, so DUH!) but when my second (8 lb 10 oz, OUCHHHHHH) was born, I have no shame in admitting that I totally STOLE receiving blankets from the hospital. Oh yes I did. They are so much bigger than the ones you buy in the package, and they were already nice and worn in. I never bought an actual swaddling blanket, and the 3 pilfered hospital blankets worked until she was about 3 months, when she suddenly decided she HATED being swaddled.

  20. Ashley May 18 at 7:10 pm Reply Reply

    I used the cheapie receiving blankets for my first baby (4 lb 8 oz, so yeahhh, there was plenty of room) but when I had my second (8 lb 10 oz, OUCHHHHHH) I have no shame in admitting that I totally STOLE receiving blankets from the hospital. Three of those suckers. And I used them until she was about 3 months old, when she suddenly decided that she HATED being swaddled. I never bought the expensive swaddling blankets, and I still use those 3 pilfered hospital blankets for tummy time and to cover the high chair padding so that I don’t have to wash it 14 times a day.

  21. Stefanie May 18 at 7:21 pm Reply Reply

    Totally agree on Miracle Blanket vs. Swaddle Me except for in the car seat. The Swaddle Me has a little opening in the back for the buckle to come through, and can be wrapped over the restraints. My daughter was a 24-hour swaddle baby, so we found a use for both MB and SM. The flannel receiving blankets worked for about the first two weeks and then she outgrew them. She does have reflux, so I use them under one end of the changing table pad to elevate it so she doesn’t lie flat. Also, I plan on having my mom make a quilt out of her baby blankets for her big girl bed.

  22. Elsie May 18 at 7:23 pm Reply Reply

    So…I have to say that the BEST blankets for good-old-fashioned-do-it-yourself-with-no-velcro swaddling were the FREE (because we, um, stole them) swaddling blankets they used at the hospital. We took home like eight of those suckers and they were PERFECT–the right size, weight, etc.  Sure the pattern, just like the picture for your post, was plain, but I didn’t care about that. They worked.  Am I the only postpartum thief that loved those??? 

  23. Caitlyn May 18 at 7:29 pm Reply Reply

    my baby does not like swaddling.  She likes the pressure, but she likes to sleep with her hands on or above her head, so I’ve been using weighted stuffed animals, which seem to work pretty well.  I just got a couple animals at the dollar store, pulled their stuffing out and filled them with dried beans.

  24. Ms. K May 18 at 7:41 pm Reply Reply

    so…just call me ms. cheapo-I-am-categorically-against-buying-baby-stuff, but:

    we just used a child-sized bedsheet and a, um, swaddle belt (really a 5′ long 1′ wide strip of fabric made from an old sheet I tore up.)

    we would swaddle her  by wrapping her up tightly in the bedsheet. Then we’d tie the strip of fabric tightly around the area where her arms would be if we could see them, for extra-reinforcement of the swaddle. Yes, baby straight-jacket indeed!

    worked very well, no money required. And FYI, lots of cultures use swaddle belts, I didn’t make it up.

  25. Alissa May 18 at 7:48 pm Reply Reply

    My baby LOVED him some Miracle Blanket. But when he got too houdini and got his arms free, I had to reinforce it – I used sticky velcro on the flap to keep it closed. A person who knows how to sew could sew on a piece of velcro and have a better result.

    Kept using the Miracle Blanket til my tall tall baby could no longer fit, even with just one leg in the foot sack. And then we had to drop it. And we both cried…

  26. Michal May 18 at 8:27 pm Reply Reply

    I absolutely LOVED the receiving blankets. Both of my babies hated swaddling. They also both had reflux so bad that they always had those receiving blankets as birth clothes. They went no where without them. My babies both had to have something touching their face to sleep. Finding a safe solution for that was interesting. Now, my 8 year old still sleeps with her blankie (it went from receiving blankets to a quilt that my mother made) and my 18 month old wont go to bed, or anywhere else for that matter, without one of her receiving “blankies”.

  27. tasterspoon May 19 at 12:48 am Reply Reply

    Tangential, but I am fascinated by Caitlyn’s baby! I have always loved sleeping under heavy, heavy quilts (down comforters are wasted on me) but I hate the constriction of sleeping bags. I am totally going to ask my husband to bury me in dried beans.

  28. Laura May 19 at 12:49 am Reply Reply

    We swaddled our twins until they were 4 1/2 months old- we used the blankets we “got” at the hospital until they hit 8 lbs. We switched to the swaddleme until they were over it. I found they worked great- and both of ours wanted OUT by the end. (and they were hand me downs!) If we have another- (my DH is laughing at that one, too) I want a Mircle Blanket, though.

  29. Ally May 19 at 1:31 am Reply Reply

    I loved the swaddle me. It worked really well with both our kids. The velcro held out really well.

  30. Susan May 19 at 1:50 am Reply Reply

    All the cheap flannel receiving blankets I have are rectangular – WTF? Fortunately an older friend of ours has a friend with a serger sewing machine, and she just buys a yard of flannel (usually on sale at Joann for $2 or so) and serges the edges to make one GINORMOUS square swaddle blanket (48 x 48 inches, baby!). Our friend sent us five, and we used them in constant rotation, and now I order a set as my standard baby shower gift for pregnant friends.

    I had a SwaddleMe, too, but the sound of the Velcro scared the bejeezus out of Snackbox, so it got shoved to the back of the closet.

    I cut up a couple of the cheap flannel blankets with pinking shears to make cloth wipes, and keep a couple others on hand for when my changing pad cover is in the wash.

  31. Emily May 19 at 3:52 am Reply Reply

    A+A was a gift from my cousin and hands down the best gift we received. My daughter could NOT get out of that thing, and it being muslin, I didn’t panic about overheating. I didn’t even know they had swaddling instructions on their website…I just used the technique from Happiest Baby On The Block and that worked with it, but next time I think I’ll check out their techniques!

  32. C May 20 at 11:23 am Reply Reply

    For swaddling, we’re kind of lazy…E loved it, I hated doing the full on burrito…and then we found The Woombie

    http://www.thewoombie.com/

    This was just perfect and we used it until she started rolling, about 7 months old.

  33. Lillian May 21 at 3:54 am Reply Reply

    The Swaddle Me worked really well for us.  We went and got a larger one when our son started to outgrow the small one.  My baby was pretty big too (9 lbs 9 oz at birth!) and he was able to stay in them pretty well.  

    Although if we have a second one…the Miracle Blanket sounds like a good thing to try!

  34. Beth May 21 at 12:05 pm Reply Reply

    Here’s the thing about the swaddleme, of which i got 2 at my shower and got another one once my son out grew the first 2, you have to wrap the baby with his/her arms at his/her side and wrap it as tight as it goes. I swaddled my son for naps for a ridiculous amount of time, like until he was 9 months maybe? And the swaddleme was our go to. My kid was also a large baby, 9 lbs 3 oz, so we had to use something aside from the stupid not-even-always-a-square receiving blankets and since the kiddapodomus was all we had we made it work. Maybe if we had a miracle we wouldn’t have bothered.

  35. Julia May 24 at 1:31 pm Reply Reply

    A lot of commenters don’t like the rectangular receiving blankets for swaddling, but I actually thought they were the greatest! The trick is to fold down one corner slightly off-center to create a long fold on which to place the baby. Then you put the baby closer to one end of the fold (towards the “fat” end of the folded down triangle) so there is more fabric on one side (long side) of the baby than the other (short side). Do a regular swaddle, starting with that short side. The long side folds over last and is long enough to wrap around most newborns more than once, like a belt. Because it’s so long, you can get it good and tight! Until my baby was ~3 mo old, this swaddle worked better than the SwaddleMe or Miracle Blanket!

  36. Jo Jun 02 at 12:43 pm Reply Reply

    The one and only useful thing those flannel squares can do… GREAT burp cloth! Fold one in half and keep over shoulder at all times! My 3rd had reflux and we would go through a dozen burp cloths a day… since you already have a dozen useless flannel squares- Enjoy!

  37. Liz Jun 08 at 11:41 am Reply Reply

    Thank you for this! My daughter liked to be swaddled and never escaped so the flimsy ones were always fine for her. My newborn son, on the other hand, escaped from them the first few nights home from the hospital. I spent an agonizing few days waiting for my Miracle Blankets to arrive. They are awesome! Really appreciate the advice Amy. Spot on, as usual.

  38. Jessica Mar 31 at 11:30 pm Reply Reply

    I know this is an old post but I had to comment, after finding this through a google search. I had no idea that receiving blankets were actually meant to be blankets until I read this… I’m the oldest of 6 with the youngest being born when I was 17 I’m also the oldest of 14 cousins all of whom I babysat and I now have a 6 year old and 3 month old twins. My whole life I just thought a receiving blanket was a nice way of saying spit up cloth…

  39. Marilyn Apr 17 at 4:42 am Reply Reply

    When I had babies years ago, those flannel receiving blankets were thick and absorbent. They were the best burp cloths because the spit-up didn’t leak through. I kept them for years and then got rid of them. I’m so sorry I did because as a grandma now, I’m appalled at the thin flannel receiving blankets being sold today. Today’s mothers are being cheated! For swaddling, muslin and knit work fine. But for burping my grandbabies, I haven’t found anything nearly big or absorbent enough. Very frustrating!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 16 Best Baby Gifts on a Budget | PFS - Feb 08

    [...] they work so well. The ones suggested to me cost over the limits I set for this article, so I did a quick search for one in the price range. Luckily, aden + anais make an affordable and reliable [...]

Like us on Facebook

Close