Finding the Perfect-Sized Baby Blanket for Every Stage
Learn about the different types of baby blankets, what to look for, and how long a baby blanket should be based on the size and needs of your little one.
As a new parent, you have so many questions - and sifting through the endless information online can get overwhelming. Even when you've watched a YouTube tutorial on how to wrap up your newborn like a baby burrito and received an avalanche of advice from every friend and family member, some subjects remain mystifying. If you're like me, you didn't know where to start when it came to baby blankets. How many do you need? What type of blanket is appropriate? What size should they be? What is the best baby blanket material? Does any of this really make that much of a difference?!
Well, the answer to the last question is yes. Having the right blankets for the job can make naps and bedtime just a little more blissful, but using the wrong blankets can be dangerous for newborn babies. Choosing a well-sized baby blanket is essential.
This article will explore different kinds of blankets, how to find the perfect size, and what to look for when you're on the hunt for a new baby blanket. If you're interested in learning more about blanket materials, like how to decide between organic cotton vs. organic muslin fabric and other questions, check out our article on the best organic materials for baby blankets.
Beginner’s baby blanket briefing
What makes a blanket a baby blanket? In short, baby blankets are typically softer, thinner, and smaller than blankets made for adults. A baby’s skin is much more delicate and sensitive than an adult’s, making softer blankets essential! The different types of baby blankets you can find for your little one are all made with babies’ comfort and growth in mind, but each is crafted for a particular stage. Take a look at the most common types of baby blankets and when they come in handy for your little one.
Preemie blankets, also known as NICU blankets, are meant to cover and comfort the smallest of us. Infants born before a pregnancy’s 37th week are considered premature and can be as small as one pound! Having a blanket that can safely hold such a small newborn is incredibly important. Preemie blankets vary in size but are usually square or rectangular (ranging from 18 by 18 inches up to 30 by 30 inches) and must be very soft to the touch to care for their especially delicate skin. Preemies may spend most of their first days or even weeks away from their parents. A preemie blanket that mom or dad has held helps babies associate the comfort of the blanket with the smell of their parents, and can even lower baby’s stress levels and promote better sleep.
A receiving blanket is a thin blanket designed in a square or rectangular shape. You'll recognize these as the sturdy cotton blankets most hospitals use to swaddle your baby when they are first born. While still soft to the touch, receiving blankets are made for durability as they'll be used for everything from swaddling to burping. There's a reason these multi-use blankets are often sold in packs! They'll follow your baby from the bassinet to the stroller to the car seat. They’re also the perfect blanket to drape over your shoulder as you bounce and pat to work out those gas bubbles. As most experienced parents will attest, keeping several receiving blankets on hand at all times, from infancy all the way up until the toddling begins, makes life much easier!
A swaddle blanket is specially designed for swaddling your baby. Swaddling, or wrapping a newborn up securely so they are unable to wiggle out of the blanket, is a technique used for a few reasons. It provides comfort and security for new babies, but it also keeps them from scratching themselves in their sleep with tiny, surprisingly sharp fingernails. Swaddle blankets are traditionally smaller than receiving blankets. They typically have two winged sides, which do the wrapping part of a baby burrito, and a triangular, rectangular, or pocketed bottom to tuck up the baby’s feet. While you can use almost any type of blanket to swaddle your tot, having a blanket designed with that purpose in mind can be quite a help in the middle of a long, restless night.
Crib blankets, sometimes called toddler blankets, are larger blankets meant for covering older kiddos who are still sleeping in cribs. This type of blanket can be made in a variety of different sizes, shapes, and fabrics. The blanket dimensions of a crib blanket are often based on the typical sizes of crib mattresses, most commonly standard size and mini. Toddlers and older children sleeping in cribs still look for the same comfort as new babies, and a comfy, specially-chosen blanket can make bedtime a little bit less stressful.
Security Blankets & Loveys
A security blanket is a special type of blanket meant to be part blanket, part soft toy. They are usually made of fleece or plush material and may even have a stuffed animal attached. Security blankets should be durable as they will likely see a great deal of use, both from snuggling infants and from active toddlers who drag them along behind everywhere they go.
Similarly, the lovey is a very small blanket, usually 13 inches square, with a plush animal head attached to one end, as though the blanket was its body. While they make fun baby shower gifts and comforting soft toys, loveys do not provide much in the way of coverage and warmth.
How long should a baby blanket be?
When it comes to baby blankets, the size of the blanket makes a big difference for comfort and durability. You want one that is big enough to keep your baby warm, but not so big that the size overwhelms them. The standard baby blanket size is 45″ by 45″ to 60,” offering versatility and long-lasting use throughout the speedy development of little ones. A blanket of this average size can be used as bedding, a floor mat, a stroller blanket, or even as a wall hanging to decorate your baby’s nursery. You can also find blanket size charts online to reference when determining the size of baby blanket and type of blanket for whatever stage your little one is in.
As much as we'd like to build a cozy, squishy nest for baby, the extra floof can create a suffocation hazard, increasing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), it is unsafe to keep blankets, soft toys, or pillows in a newborn baby's crib until they are at least 12 months of age. Likewise, when using swaddle blankets in a crib, be sure to use safe sleep practices. This includes putting a child on their back every time you lay them down, as it’s important that babies sleep on their backs. In addition, when babies are swaddled, they should be monitored to ensure they don’t roll over in their sleep. If they start rolling over while sleeping, it may be a sign that swaddling isn’t appropriate for them.
The blanket pattern can also make a difference. A blanket with a lovely crochet pattern looks beautiful and inviting, but the loose weave of a crochet baby blanket or knitted baby blanket can tangle and trap little fingers. It's best to avoid crochet in the crib until at least 12 months of age.
fawn & forest
fawn&forest's collection of organic cotton baby blankets and quilts are just the right size for your baby. Our swaddle blankets and sleep sacks soothe your little bundle of joy, keeping them comfortable and warm so you both can get a good night's rest.
Like all of our collections at fawn&forest, we've given particular care to find only the highest-quality materials, from organic cotton with an extra-soft feel to high-comfort merino wool. We choose our favorite organic baby and toddler blankets not only for their exceptional eco and organic fabrics but for durability and long-lasting comfort. Discover beautifully crafted blankets to swaddle your baby, keep them warm in their crib, and follow you on all your adventures.