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Expecting your first child and wondering how many swaddles do I need?
Based on my personal experience as a mom, you need at least three swaddles, with six swaddles giving more flexibility. With 3 swaddles (I recommend swaddle sacks), your baby can wear one, you can have one in the wash, and have one to spare in case of spit up or a diaper leak. In addition to 3 to 6 swaddle sacks, I recommend 5 to 10 muslin blankets, which can do double duty as a receiving blanket, burp cloth, sun and wind shade, and cloth to wipe up messes.
Stocking the Nursery is Tough Work!
I remember the final months and weeks of my pregnancy, trying to frantically collect all the things we thought we might need for our daughter’s first few months of life.
Knowing we’d have our hands full for the first few weeks and months (okay – the first year), I wanted to get as much as we could in advance, and minimize frantic online orders and panicked shopping trips.
And seriously, how many swaddling blankets do you actually need for your baby?
In all honesty, how much you need depends on a few things, including how frequently you do laundry.
Below, I’ve put together a guide on what you need to consider, so you can get to the perfect number, without going overboard.
What Is A Swaddle Blanket?
Swaddles are thin blankets used to wrap newborns up like tiny, adorable burritos.
A swaddle keeps very young babies wrapped up, with their arms close to the body. This experience imitates the warmth of being back inside the womb, and helps reduce the chances they’ll wake themselves up with their startle reflex.
Swaddle blankets are typically loose cloth blankets, with a loose weave that means they’re breathable for the baby.
Although this approach has been used for centuries, these days this method is less popular. Loose cloth swaddling is discouraged due to the risk of loose fabric getting near babies’s face, and also the increased chance of hip dysplasia if a baby is swaddled incorrectly.
As an alternative, many parents opt for wearable swaddles that use Velcro, zippers, or snaps. These are recommended as a safer and more convenient method of swaddling. It’s what we used with our daughter, and I can confirm it’s much easier than trying to wrap a crying baby like a burrito!
Swaddle Blankets / Receiving Blankets / Muslin Blankets – What’s the Difference?
When I was pregnant with my first baby, I didn’t know the difference between all of these types of blankets.
It was only through my own research that I found out the differences between receiving blankets, muslin blankets, and swaddle blankets.
Receiving blankets are typically a square of material, which you can wrap up your little one when you’re holding them to keep them warm, or to cover them a bit in the stroller. They’re usually made with thicker, warmer fabrics like cotton, flannel, or fleece. And you can cover your shoulder with them, to prevent unexpected spit-up from landing on your clothing. Babies should never sleep in their crib, bassinet, or pack n’ play with a blanket, however, as they’re a suffocation risk, and may increase the risk of SIDS.
Swaddle blankets, on the other hand, are usually made from much thinner and lighter materials like muslin, and bamboo cotton. They’re made to be more breathable to prevent your little one from overheating. This means many muslin blankets and swaddle blankets are essentially the same thing. Even if you don’t opt for the traditional blanket-style of swaddling, muslin blankets are pretty useful as a parent. I used one all the time to give my daughter some shade in her stroller (that is, until I discovered stroller sun shades).
Some swaddle blankets are specially designed with hook and loop patches or velcro straps to help you get that perfect wrapped-up style.
For more information on receiving blanket vs swaddle blankets, I’ve got an article dropping soon with all you need to know!
Tradition of Swaddling
Swaddling is not a fad, but rather a practice that’s been around for hundreds of years, across different cultures.
For years, it’s helped babies to sleep for longer and be more comfortable, too.
If you’re becoming a parent today, however, you have a lot more choices when it comes to swaddling.
Why Should I Swaddle?
As a new parent, you’re probably expecting to experience many sleepless nights. And while some babies are just like that, others get a lot of comfort from swaddling, and it may help all of you get longer, better quality sleep.
Many newborns wake frequently due to their Moro reflex. This is a startle response that babies do naturally. When something startles them, they throw out their arms and head back, often waking themselves up in the process.
Wrapping them up in a swaddle blanket keeps their arms close to their chest, preventing the moro reflex from taking place.
For little ones who long to be close to their parent at all times, a tightly wrapped swaddle can mimic the touch of a caregiver, too, which can help keep them calm when they do wake during the night. In a similar vein, swaddles are also great to soothe babies with colic as well.
Swaddling is also a great way to make sure your baby is wrapped up warm for their snoozes without the risk that comes with having loose blankets. You can dress them lightly under the swaddle and still keep them appropriately warm without blankets.
Essentially, swaddling your baby helps to keep babies calm and lets them sleep for longer, which is great for parents who want to sleep longer themselves.
The Different Types Of Swaddles
There are essentially two types of swaddles that are available to buy for your baby: traditional swaddling blankets and swaddle sacks.
Traditional swaddle blankets have been around for hundreds of years.
Basically, they’re just a really large, thin blanket or square of fabric (often muslin) that has enough room for you to wrap your baby up in.
These types of lightweight baby wraps are really versatile, as they can also be used as a burp cloth, to wipe up spit up, and as a regular thin blanket to shade your baby in the stroller.
Regardless of whether you choose to use a traditional swaddle or a swaddle sack (or skip swaddling all together), getting a few of these muslin cloths is a good buy because of their versatility.
Even though we didn’t opt for traditional, burrito-style swaddling, we had so many muslin blankets in the house, and they always came in handy!
If you’re wondering how many muslin blankets you need, we had 3 “cute” ones with nice prints (the aden + anis ones are gorgeous!), and about a dozen basic white ones. While it may seem like overkill, this number worked really well for us and I don’t think it was overkill.
Swaddle Sleep Sacks
Sack style swaddles are the modern alternative to old-style swaddle blankets.
They take away the need to master the art of wrapping your baby like a perfect little burrito, and have some great safety bonuses, too.
Swaddle sacks are swaddle blankets designed and sold with features like snaps, zippers and Velcro. This makes it even easier to swaddle your baby, especially when they’re fussy. It also helps you adjust the sack in line with the size and comfort of the baby.
I definitely prefer the zip-up style, as they’re quieter than velcro during middle of the night diaper changes, and easier than fiddling with snaps when you have a fussy baby.
You can also rest assured as swaddle sacks are made with baby’s safety in mind.
With a swaddle sack, you don’t have to worry about the fabric coming undone, which could lead to loose fabric covering your baby’s face. Likewise, you don’t have to worry about swaddling baby too tightly, which can lead to hip dysplasia.
We used swaddle sacks exclusively until our daughter was around 3 months, and highly recommend them!
If you’re wondering how many swaddles you need when it comes to these sack styles, we initially bought 3 different brands and styles to see what style our daughter liked. Then once we narrowed it down to the brands that worked best for us, we bought a handful more of the favorites.
How Many Swaddling Blankets Will I Need?
There are a few factors that will help you to plan the number of ‘how many swaddles do I need.’
It will depend somewhat on the style you get, what you use them for, and on your own preferences and organization in your home.
How many muslin blankets you need will depend on whether you’re using them for swaddling and multi-purpose uses throughout the day, or just one or the other.
Below are some factors to consider.
Types of Swaddle for Day and Night
If you decide that swaddling is for you, then you can buy fewer receiving blankets, and instead, get more muslin blankets or swaddles.
In terms of minimum swaddles, I’d recommend at least two:, but 3 is a better minimum number: one to wear and an extra for change (plus one in the laundry if you have 3). Three would be better, to allow for extra changes at night after diaper leaks, or needing to wash after the last nap of the day and start the nighttime routine.
That said, I had 15 muslin blankets, and TBH it felt like a comfortable number! As I mentioned above, many of them were basic, plain white versions to keep costs manageable, with a few cute ones thrown in there.
Some parents, myself included, decide to buy a combination of both traditional muslin blankets to use as receiving blankets, along with some swaddle sacks.
The sack-style swaddles are a good option for babies when they’re sleeping by themselves (as opposed to in your arms), because they ensure that baby’s movements won’t loosen the wrap and create a hazard.
On the other hand, I liked the traditional muslin blanket swaddles to loosely wrap up baby when she was sleeping in my arms.
The muslin receiving blankets are great for doing extra duty, too. They work as a makeshift baby bed sheet on the floor for baby’s tummy time, or as a burp cloth after a feed or to cover your nursing pillow. Then just pull out a fresh muslin blanket for the next nap, or for a walk in the stroller!
We all know that infants poop a lot and explosive diaper situations happen. Depending on how often you experience blowouts, some newborns need more swaddles. If you experience frequent diaper leaks, you may go through three to six swaddles a day.
Swaddles And Spitting Up
Spit-ups are common among newborn babies. Almost half of all healthy babies spit up in their first three months due to infant gastroesophageal reflux.
If your little one spits up a lot, you’ll need to stock up on extra swaddles (and bibs).
So, How Many Swaddles Do You Need?
I would suggest getting at least 3 to 6 swaddle sacks to start with, plus 6 to 12 muslin blankets. There is no hard and fast number of swaddles that parents need. However, this feels like a reasonable number that won’t have you doing laundry every day, but also isn’t overkill.
It’s a case of finding what you use them for and going from there. I have generally found the more swaddles the better. Having some extra in your baby’s wardrobe only makes the laundry load a bit easier.
How Long Can I Swaddle My Baby?
The important thing to remember though is that baby outgrows swaddling once they can roll over by themselves. This usually happens around 3 or 4 months. From this point, it is unsafe and you need to stop swaddling to prevent any risks to your little one.
This may affect your thinking when buying swaddles as sacks. Once a baby reaches this age, they can no longer be used.
On the other hand, traditional swaddles blankets are an incredibly versatile baby accessory. We used our muslin blankets for 2 years or so!
Can All Babies Be Swaddled?
Usually swaddling is safe and helps to soothe newborns to keep the baby calm and sleep longer. However, there are some exceptions. If your baby has hip dysplasia or other hip issues, swaddling may aggravate these conditions. Always consult your baby’s pediatrician if in doubt.
Remember also that all babies are different. Some may not be comfortable in the firm yet soft wrap of a swaddle. Others, however, may prefer their torso being swaddled while their arms are free.
What Should my Baby Wear Underneath Their Swaddle?
There is no rule for what little ones should wear under their swaddle.
For newborns, a lightweight, soft wrap proves to be enough for them to fall asleep. You can also put your baby in a short-sleeved onesie if it is not too hot. During colder months, your baby may need to wear a long-sleeved onesie made of a warmer fabric under the swaddle.
It’s really important parents dress their baby properly for sleep. Researchers have found a link between overheating and SIDS. When in doubt, err on the side of fewer layers to keep your baby cooler, rather than hotter.
Final Thoughts on How Many Swaddle Blankets Do I Need?
We hope that you have found this article on ‘How many swaddles do I need?’ useful to help you prepare for your baby.
Only purchase as many swaddles as you think you’ll need. You certainly don’t want to be caught in the middle of the night with too few swaddle sacks. That said, babies can only use swaddle sacks for a few months. Traditional swaddle blankets, on the other hand, have an incredible number of uses, so it’s hard to have too many!
If you know other expecting parents, please share this article with them!