What Are the Different Types of Baby Blankets?
Just how many blankets does one family need? “Baby blanket” already seems like a subset of the category “blanket,” but you may be surprised to learn that there’s a smorgasbord of baby blankets you’ll need to wade through to select the best blanket options for your brand new family member.
Even if you have an aunt who knits a personalized baby blanket faster than a silkworm, a tower of mini-afghans won’t do it. You need a range of blankets that cover the physical and functional needs of your wee one.
To make sure you’re prepared, let’s take a look at the A to Z on baby blankets. (Except for color and pattern—we’ll leave that entirely up to you.)
Baby blankets are more functional than you may realize, serving a key role in more than just your newbornbaby’s warmth. They’re not magic, but some baby blankets are designed specifically to help keep your little onecomfortable during sleep, after eating, or when they’re just plain fussy.
In this Instagram-heavy world, it’s easy to get caught up in how adorable nursery and infant accessories can be. But keep in mindthe best blanket needs to be selected based on:
- Their function, particularly for swaddling
- The delicacy of babies’ skin, with soft, smooth, organic fabrics
- How old the little one is and whether they’re able to roll over
- The size of both the baby and any equipment (baby’s crib, stroller, etc.) they’re in
Below, we’ll explore the most common types of baby blankets, as well as how and when to use them.
#1: Swaddling Blanket
Whether you learnhow to swaddlefrom a maternity nurse or a YouTube video, it’s a skill that will help your baby fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer—something that’ll benefit both of you.
Depending on your chosen method, you’ll use either one or two blankets to swaddle. These swaddling blankets should be:
- Smooth and lightweight with a little stretch
- Made with natural, breathable fibers
- Cotton muslin or cotton knit, bamboo knit, or lightweight flannel
- Able to grow in size with your baby, from about 32 to 47 inches square
The Monica + Andy Coming Home Blanket is an excellent swaddle blanket option, made with 95% breathable and soft organic cotton, as well as 5% spandex for that necessary stretch. Plus, it comes in a variety of adorable patterns and colors.
There are also wrap options available to use over a swaddling blanket that secures with velcro. Functionally, these are like the foil wrapper containing a wrapped burrito—when the burrito is wrapped well, its contents should be safe and secure, but a foil wrap will keep everything tidy if the tortilla happens to loosen. Plus, they help retain warmth.
#2: Cellular Blanket
It sounds a little high-tech, but a cellular blanket isn’t the first step to having a child with their eyes always on their mobile phone. It simply refers to the weave.
- Are woven or knit to create holes or cells
- Provide airflow while trapping pockets of air to keep baby warm
- Are the trend for newborn and hospital use due to temperature regulation
- Can act as swaddling or receiving blankets
#3: Wearable Blanket or Sleep Sack
A sleep sack can be a transition from swaddling or part of the process. Stay with the same lightweight materials used for swaddling blankets, and ensure the sleep sack is always sized, so your baby has a full range of hip and leg movements.
Wearable blanket variations include:
- Sleeved and mittened, so the arms can move, but wayward fingernails are safely covered
- Sleeveless (like a potato sack with arm and neck holes, but way cuter)
Monica + Andy offer both sleeved and sleeveless wearable blanket options, so you can mix and match. Both are made with cloud-soft GOTS certified organic cotton, so no matter which you choose, you can ensure your baby stays comfy and cozy all night long.
#4: Receiving Blanket
Traditionally, a receiving blanket is an attractive item that your brand-spanking-new baby is wrapped in after cleaning and before their first pictures or family visits. A popular choice is a cellular blanket personalized with the baby’s name.
But these days, a receiving blanket often refers to a baby blanket of unspecified use that’s exactly one square yard. A receiving blanket can be one that you:
- Place under the baby for an immediate soft surface anywhere
- Use to catch spit-up and drool
- Grab as a makeshift changing mat
#5: Thermal Blanket
This is another term that just refers to the type of material used. Basically, a thermal blanket uses a thermal knit—usually cotton or cotton blend. Thermal blankets are helpful in any season, easy to grab and clean, and may double as swaddling blankets if needed.
The Monica + Andy Always Blanket is a double layer blanket made with organic cotton muslin, providing warmth and coziness, without sacrificing breathability.
#6: Fleece Blanket
Fleece is a popular choice for a secondary, outdoor, or under-the-baby blanket. It’s warm, soft to the touch, cleans easily, and wicks away moisture. This is a fine choice to use for a car seat or stroller blanket.
Fleece isn’t for swaddling, however; made of polyester, it traps warmth and doesn’t breathe.
#7: Handknit Blankets
If you have a crafty person in your network, you might receive a crocheted or knitted blanket. If it doesn’t come with details on the fabrics, yarn, and other materials used, don’t be shy in asking for this information. It will help you:
- Understand how to launder and care for it
- Know its warmth factor, and how to use it based on the climate or season
- Decide whether the item is useable or for display only
Hopefully, the maker chose yarns that were designed and sold for baby blankets, but go ahead and ask for a copy of the yarn label or name.
With knitted or crocheted blankets, you also need to be aware of the security of the weave. If the design is loose with holes, beware of little fingers getting stuck in it.
#8: Baby Quilts
Another common gift from textile enthusiasts is a handmade baby quilt. If it’s particularly beautiful or skillful, you may want to consider using it as a wall-hanging or for special occasions.
Use the same approach as with knit or crochet blankets: ask for material details to help you decide what to do with it, as well as how to care for it. Quilts, in general, are frequently made from 100% cotton, although the batting is usually polyester. If you have a zany quilter in your life, the quilt may include appliques or even charms or ribbons that can be grabbed or mouthed. Look it over carefully for any dangerous features or loose threads.
If the quilt is practical to use, it will make a cozy surface to protect the baby from the floor or a secondary layer for trips outside in chilly weather.
#9: Security Blankets
Also called lovey or toddler blankets, these are blankets that your older baby or toddler forms an emotional attachment to. They may end up dragged around during playtime, as well cuddled during nap time, so you’ll want to provide a blanket that’s:
- Durable, able to stand up to dirt and frequent washings
- On the small size, able to be carried around easily
- Unique and easy to distinguish from the pile of more practical blankets
To reinforce their role as a comfort object, security blankets are often:
- Trimmed with soft satin
- Knitted out with a small stuffed toy connected to them
#10: Equipment-Specific Blankets
Trying to tuck oversized blankets around transport equipment can lead to accidentally covering your baby’s face or trailing ends getting caught or dragged. Instead, you’ll want to have blankets that you know are the right size and material to fit with these items:
- Car seat
Often, these equipment-specific blankets are heavier than thinner layering blankets that are close to the baby’s body. Fleece is a popular choice, particularly for equipment that moves out of the house.
Baby Blanket Fabrics
The keywords for choosing the right blanket fabrics are gentle and washable. Natural, organic fibers are a priority, especially in the baby’s early stages.
Ideal fabrics include:
- Cotton muslin or gauze
- Cotton knit or Pima cotton
- Bamboo (or bamboo rayon) knit
- Lightweight flannel
- Fleece or Minky for warmer, secondary layer uses
As they transition from baby to toddler, more durable and sturdy blends will be needed to stand up to being dragged between locations and activities.
Baby Blanket Yarns
The best options for handmade woven blankets are yarns designed for baby blankets, as they’ve likely been tested for irritants and designed with delicate skin in mind. Common options include:1
- 100% acrylic baby blanket yarn – Very washable
- 100% polyester chenille-style baby yarn – A little more bulk, but very soft
- Mixed fiber baby blanket yarn – Usually a blend of acrylic and nylon
- Silk and bamboo yarn – Not baby-specific, but very soft and bright
Yarns designated for baby use are almost always machine-washable, but some may need to be air-dried. If you opt into fancier options like a silk and bamboo blend, prepare to hand-wash and air-dry (and probably keep these more for display than daily use).
Monica + Andy: The Right Blankets for a Snuggly Start
Luckily, you don’t need to own every possible blanket before day one with your family’s newest member. Whether you’re developing a shopping list from scratch or in the market for baby shower gifts, you can easily personalize both the inventory and style of your baby blankets to ensure you have what will help you and your baby sleep and thrive.
Monica + Andy is committed to providing both luxury and practicality for new parents and babies. Our blankets are made from GOTS certified, organic cotton and wash-tested to last.
With a range of patterns and colors to choose from, our receiving blankets, swaddling blankets, double-layered blankets, and wearable blankets provide a perfect fit for your growing baby. Explore our Swaddle + Blanket Bundles for a lovely way to welcome your little bundle of joy.
- Morgan, Jodie. "Baby Blanket Yarn – Complete Guide To Best Yarns For A Baby Blanket." KnitLikeGranny. 5 November 2021, https://knitlikegranny.com/baby-blanket-yarn/