When you’re expecting a little bundle of joy, it will occur to you, at some point or another, that your baby needs a blanket. Baby blankets are a standard baby shower gift for a reason. They provide warmth and comfort, and they’re as cute as they are necessary. Who doesn’t love to see a little baby snuggled up in a soft, cozy blanket? It’s this sweet image you keep in mind when you search baby blanket on Amazon, scroll through the endless listings, pick the cutest, softest-looking one, and add it to your registry. There, taken care of. Right? Well, maybe not. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends not using a blanket for sleep until your child is at least a year old because blankets and other soft objects in the crib increase the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). So, while it isn’t appropriate to use a baby blanket in your baby’s crib for sleep until they’re old enough, you can use it for other times. There are also different types of baby blankets, and they all suited for various occasions and ages.
Swaddling is a skill well worth learning before your baby makes their grand entrance. After spending 9 months all tucked and cozy in the womb, the transition into the outside world is jarring, to say the least. Newborns come equipped with many reflexes, one of which is the startle reflex. Also known as the Moro reflex, this involuntary motor response causes your baby to suddenly splay their arms and legs before drawing them back toward their body. It sticks around for the first few months of life, and is easily triggered. When you lay your baby down in a crib or bassinet, it creates a sensation of falling, triggering the Moro reflex, and startling your baby awake. Enter swaddling.
Once you swaddle your baby for the first time, you’ll quickly realize how much of a game-changer it is. Somewhat of an art form, the nifty wraps and tucks of a swaddling blanket create a safe, snug feeling for your baby that mimics the secure environment of the womb. Swaddling protects your baby against their startle reflex, helping both of you get some much needed sleep. It can also help calm a colicky baby, as well as keep their hands from scratching their face. The magic of swaddling is so legendary that it’s a practice that has been around for thousands of years. Trust the rumors. Get a swaddle blanket. Although the AAP recommends dropping the swaddle after 8 weeks of age, it’s an invaluable tool during the newborn phase. For more information on when to stop swaddling, read our blog post here.
Just because you can’t use a baby blanket for sleep doesn’t mean you should go without. Baby blankets are perfect for car rides, stroller rides, cuddle time, and more. Young babies are particularly susceptible to the cold, which means keeping them warm is the utmost of importance. With so many options out there to choose from (Amazon sometimes makes things harder, not easier), it can be overwhelming or confusing to try and narrow down the choices. Although fuzzy, faux-fur blankets look super cozy, you may want to refrain from using those. The little furs can come loose and easily make their way into your baby’s mouth or nostrils. Swaddling blankets should be left for swaddling, since they’re thin and don’t provide much warmth when used as a cover. If you live in a cold climate, you can use one made from fleece. Fleece, however, is not a breathable material, which makes overheating a possibility. Blankets made from cotton or bamboo are always great choices. Ours are crafted from bamboo rayon, making them breathable, antibacterial, and, best of all, insanely soft.
Wish that super soft, buttery, breathable baby blanket was bigger? It can be! Toddler blankets don’t have to just be for toddlers. One of the biggest benefits of getting a toddler blanket for your baby is that it’s perfect for snuggling together. If your baby was born in the fall or winter, you can still reap all the benefits of skin-to-skin while staying nice and warm under a larger-sized blanket. Smaller blankets are optimal for the car and stroller, since they’re sized conveniently for trips out, but bigger ones are good in the home because their use is so versatile.
Having a toddler blanket is also a good idea to provide a soft, comfortable surface for tummy time. Even if you have carpet in your home, spreading a soft blanket on the floor is good for your baby’s delicate skin. It just might make tummy time more bearable, and also makes the floor more comfortable for you to get down on your tummy, so that you can be eye-level with your baby!
After those first few months of swaddling, you might be wondering, Now what? You still have a while to go before a blanket is considered safe for your baby to sleep with, but it’s cold and your baby needs a blanket. Sleep bags are your new best friend. They act as a wearable blanket, keeping your little one warm and cozy, while still following the AAP’s recommendation for a safe sleep environment. With a sleep bag, you don’t have to worry about suffocation from loose bedding or your baby feeling cold at night. Just putting your baby in their sleep bag becomes an important part of the bedtime routine, giving your baby the cue that it’s time to go to sleep. You may notice that, as you zip up the bag, your baby will begin to yawn and rub their eyes.
Just like a regular baby blanket, choosing a sleep bag made from a breathable material is important. One that causes overheating will result in a restless night for both you and baby. You want your baby to stay at the perfect temperature, and bamboo is the ideal material for achieving just that. Since bamboo fabric naturally regulates temperature, you can rest easy, knowing that your little one is sleeping comfortably. You also want to choose a sleep bag in the correct TOG for the season. If you live in a hot climate, 0.5 or 1.0 TOG is ideal for warm nights. 0.5 TOG is for nursery temperatures between 74 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit, while 1.0 TOG suits 69 to 73 degrees. 2.5 TOG, which suits nursery temperatures from 61 to 68 degrees, is perfect for the winter.
SLEEP BAG WALKER
As your little one gains even more mobility, a sleep bag walker can be a wonderful asset. It provides all the warmth and comfort of their beloved sleep bag, but allows more freedom of movement. Rather than getting tangled up in the sleep bag when standing or walking, your toddler can move comfortably. Transitioning out of the sleep bag when your little one is still, well, little, can prove to be difficult because the familiarity of the sleep bag is a bedtime cue and also a source of comfort. With a walker, your toddler can get in and out of bed safely, and still keep their beloved sleep bag. If your little one is potty training, the walker has the same dual zipper that makes going to the bathroom a breeze.
A baby blanket is so much more than a cover to keep your child warm. With so many different types and so many different uses, it’s no wonder that they remain the most popular traditional, and beloved gift for a newborn. Whether you choose to get all the different kinds or not, it’s important to know their uses and which ones are appropriate for when. That poses another question: can you really have too many baby blankets? We say no!