Swaddling is the practice of wrapping your baby in a blanket or cloth so that the arms and legs stay close to the body, making them feel safe, comfortable, and secure. Swaddling can also help newborns sleep better, eat better, and even gain weight faster for optimal health and growth.
And with the help of the right swaddle blankets, newborns can feel snugly wrapped in a cocoon so they can self-soothe easier, too. But not all swaddle blankets are created equal. In this article, we'll discuss what types of swaddle blankets are out there—and which ones you should choose for your baby.
What are the different types of swaddle blankets?
There are different types of swaddle blankets that offer varying benefits depending on your needs as a parent or caregiver. We're going to break down the PROs and CONS of swaddle blankets so you can make an informed decision about which one is right for your baby. Here are some of the major types available in the market to keep your baby comfortable at night or during naps:
Muslin blankets: This is the classic swaddle option. It is a but it's the composition that makes it a great . And they are the most popular choice for most babies due to their versatility and practicality. They usually come in two variations, a , or a option. Sometimes you can find a combo of 30% , 70% bamboo or even an option. blankets are super lightweight and airy because of the double gauze design, making them an ideal everyday essential for any season.
- They're very breathable, helping keep the baby at a perfect temperature and prevent overheating.
- The cotton will quickly absorb moisture. Perfect for swaddling in warmer environments where the baby might get sweaty. The loose weave means it has lots of space in between the fibers to quickly soak up messes like spit up.
- They soften up with every wash, which means more comfort for your baby.
- 100% cotton is a natural fiber, perfect for sensitive skin.
- Being a square muslin blanket, you can easily use it for other purposes if your baby doesn't like being swaddled. So no money is wasted with this option.
- They are quite delicate in nature because of their loose weave design, so their threads can easily snag on sharp edges, especially if washed incorrectly.
- Crinkled texture can be expected after each wash. Some people love the texture, others prefer an ironed look.
- You will need to practice a swaddling technique and change the swaddling method as your baby grows.
Jersey blankets: Jersey blankets are similar to muslin in terms of function, but different in that they're made out of a more durable, stretchable fabric with a much tighter weave. They typically have a component like spandex or jersey that gives it a stretch. Not only that, they’re also super soft and comfortable for babies, which is why many parents choose them as a swaddle wrap over traditional swaddles.
- Jersey blankets are thicker than muslin fabric, so they’re more durable
- They’re stretchable so perfect for extra-wriggly babies
- They’re soft and gentle to the skin
- They don’t fray after multiple washes.
- Can be used for other things in addition to swaddling such as a stroller blanket.
- The tight weave means less airflow through the fabric so babies could be prone to overheating.
- Many stretchy swaddles are made with polyester, a synthetic fiber. Opt for a natural cotton or bamboo option.
- You will need to practice a swaddling technique since a blanket is a flat square.
Swaddle sacks: Unlike traditional swaddles made from blankets that you need to fold (aka flat sheets), a sleep sack can be used directly just by inserting the baby inside the sack. It is a wearable. Swaddle sacks are ideal to use from the day a baby is born until they’re 36 months in age.
- The swaddle is secure and the baby won’t be able to get out, making it a great choice for older wiggly babies.
- They're easy to use—just put your baby in the sack and zip or tighten it up! This can be especially helpful for parents who are new to swaddling.
- There are many different options like velcro closure, zip closure, and one arm in, one arm out options.
- They can trap heat, so make sure there is proper ventilation or cooling for the baby.
- They’re not as versatile because you can only use them for swaddling.
- You might need to purchase several different options to see what your baby likes.
What blanket is best for swaddling?
Your baby's comfort is always the most important factor to consider when choosing a swaddling blanket. And as you can see, there are many options out there.
As with all things parenting, I would recommend that you try out each option and compare for yourself. Start off with a muslin swaddle blanket or a jersey swaddle when they are a newborn. You can pick muslin if you are in a warmer climate and jersey if you are in a cold environment. See if your baby enjoys being swaddled as a newborn.
If they don’t like being swaddled, no harm done, just use the blankets for other purposes like a simple . If your baby does like being swaddled as they get older, invest in a swaddling sack so once they are stronger, they won’t wiggle out of the swaddle.
At this point, you will know which way your baby prefers to sleep. You will know whether they like their hands up, or they like them by their chest, or maybe they like having one arm loose above their head, etc.
Knowing this will help you pick a swaddle sack that caters to your baby's needs. At the end of the day, you'll know what works best for your baby—and that's really all that matters!
What is the best fabric for swaddling blankets?
Even with the three options that we just discussed, there are still so many different options available. You should consider these two major factors to determine the best swaddle blanket for your newborn: size and material.
The ideal size of a baby swaddle blanket is no less than 42” x 42” and should be in a square form. This is to ensure equal folding and enough fabric for a snug and safe fit. It should also be noted that swaddles larger than 47” x 47” are not ideal because that poses difficulty in properly wrapping the baby. Swaddle sacks will have age sizes, don’t size up so that there is no risk of having the material cover your baby's face.
Cotton is a natural fiber that's soft and breathable. It's also hypoallergenic and often cheaper than bamboo or synthetic fibers. Bamboo is a sustainable material that's super soft and light. It also resists bacteria growth (which is great for babies with sensitive skin) and can be washed at higher temperatures than cotton without losing its shape or color.
Synthetic fibers are made from plastic polymers instead of natural materials like cotton or bamboo. A popular synthetic fiber is polyester. This option tends to be inexpensive but is not as breathable or soft as natural fibers—and they don't have the same antibacterial properties as bamboo.
Do you really need swaddle blankets?
The short answer is no. In fact, some babies prefer to sleep unswaddled. However, it is a great technique to use to calm a baby down. Swaddling will keep them cozy and tight, reminding them of the familiar place in their mama's belly.
It’s a great way to soothe and comfort a baby, giving them the feeling of being held nice and snug. It also prevents the baby from waking up because of the Moro Reflex, letting them sleep for longer periods.
Can newborns sleep unswaddled?
Yes, of course. Babies can sleep unswaddled. A lot of parents prefer to let their babies sleep freely and have the ability to stretch and move as they nap. In this case, don’t use a blanket to cover the baby to prevent them from pulling the blanket over their face. Just put on an extra layer of clothes to keep them warm as they sleep.
So there you have it! You now have all the essential knowledge you need to decide on the best swaddle blanket for your squirmy sweetheart.
The only way to know for sure which blanket will work best for your baby is by trying them all out and seeing what works best. There are so many different styles and types of blankets available on the market today that it can be very confusing when trying to decide which one might be best suited for swaddling.
We hope this guide has helped you narrow your options and find the perfect blanket for your little one’s needs!
I had no idea picking a blanket is such big of a deal! I’ve just read this sleep training book I got recommended by a friend: https://www.parental-love.com/shop/baby-sleep-training and the author says swaddling is like super important and I’d really like to try but it’s getting complicated I guess…