Swaddles are a must-have item for new parents and the question of how many swaddles do you need comes up a lot. If your baby wakes itself up in the middle of the night, a cozy swaddle blanket may be the solution to your problems. When done correctly, the swaddling effect on your baby keeps them calm and snug throughout the night. Swaddling with a blanket also minimizes the chance of them waking themselves up from their slumber.

Swaddles are a great item to have, but many new parents underestimate how many swaddles they’ll need for their newborn and how often they’ll go through them. The result of not having enough is getting stuck in an endless cycle of laundry. The more swaddles you have, the less you’ll have to worry about running out and spend time hoping your baby doesn’t wake themselves up at night.

This article will explain what swaddles are, the different types of swaddles and their benefits, and answer the question of how many swaddle blankets you should keep on hand for your newborn baby.

What are Swaddles?

A swaddle is a thin blanket used to wrap newborns when they sleep. A swaddle blanket prevents newborns from moving around when they sleep and being startled by their own movements resulting in waking themselves up. Babies have been swaddled for centuries across multiple civilizations as the method is used to simulate the mother’s womb and help the baby fall asleep.

Depending on the thickness of the swaddles, your baby can wear a onesie underneath it or any additional layers such as a sleeper if necessary. However, it’s a good idea to monitor your baby’s temperature and check for signs of excessive perspiration while they’re swaddled to avoid your baby from overheating.

Babies are usually swaddled for the first 4 months or so – until the baby develops better limb movement and is able to roll over by themselves. When your baby is too old for a swaddle, a transition blanket – a wearable blanket that lets your baby’s arms be free – can help them ease their way into using normal blankets.

Types of Swaddles

Generally, there are two types of swaddles:

Traditional swaddling blankets: This is the classic blanket everyone thinks of when they think of a swaddle – the big blanket that lets you wrap your baby up like a burrito. Most swaddles can also be used for other tasks, such as burping, or as a regular baby blanket or sleep sack when your baby’s older. This traditional version is also called a muslin blanket or muslin swaddle.

Swaddling pouches: These are usually easier to navigate than traditional swaddles. They usually come with additional closure features such as zippers to help you to snuggly secure your baby.

It is a good idea to have both on hand, but if you had to choose, a traditional swaddle provides you with more versatility.

newborn baby swaddling with white cloth by her mother

Swaddles vs. Receiving Blanket

A swaddle blanket and a receiving blanket may seem to be the same, and they do serve the same function. The main difference between a swaddle and a receiving blanket is the additional features that a swaddle may have, such as pockets, zippers and Velcro. Swaddles are specially made to function as a true swaddle by wrapping your baby in a certain way. A receiving blanket is just a simple, square piece of cloth, which means they’re more versatile as a baby blanket. The receiving blankets are usually smaller, but they can be used for burping and changing diapers, as a nursing cover, and as a swaddle.

Receiving blankets can always be used as swaddles, but not all swaddles can be used as receiving blankets.

Swaddle Tips

Here are some tips for swaddling your baby:

  • Don’t over-swaddle your baby, as you don’t want them to overheat. Stay aware of how many layers your baby is wearing, and the temperature that they will be sleeping in.
  • Babies should only be placed on their back when swaddled. As your baby gets older, closely monitor them so that they don’t roll over.
  • You can swaddle your baby with their arms in or out of the swaddle blanket. It depends how your baby feels the most comfortable.
  • Swaddle your baby with their arms crossed over their chests, not at their sides, as this not only limits mobility, but it also may cause joint problems.
  • It’s recommended that you take your baby out of the swaddle when feeding to avoid having them doze off before they get an adequate amount of nourishment.

How Many Swaddles Do Babies Need?

mother swaddling tenderly her newborn baby

The question “how many swaddles do you need for a newborn” is difficult to answer, as it depends on the scenario. Of course, there’s no limit to how many you can have, but it’s rare to find a parent who has less than three swaddles for their baby. A minimum of three is a good rule to live by – one to wear, one to wash, and one as spare. However, this is the bare minimum – it’s recommended to have more if you want to avoid doing laundry every day. After all, accidents do happen.

If you want to have both traditional swaddles and swaddle pouches, the recommendation applies to up to at least six, that is, three of each type. The different features of swaddling pouches may mean it’s useful to have more than one type of swaddle.

For those who prefer to use traditional swaddling blankets, you may want to have more than three, as you’ll find yourself using them for several tasks, like laying one down the carpet to give your baby some tummy time, or having one to lay down on a public changing table when you’re out.

Also, if your baby is prone to spitting up or to diaper blowout, you’ll probably need extra swaddles on hand, so plan to have at least an additional 2-3 to save you from constantly doing laundry. Further, if you have more than one baby that needs to be swaddled, then double the number that you have on deck. Many swaddles come in packs anyway, so you may just need to pick up a pack of 3 or 6 and you’re set.

Every baby is different, and every parent has their preferences. Therefore, the number of swaddles you have is up to you and the needs of your little one. However, know that you can never go wrong with having at least one extra swaddle around when you need it!

About the Author Hannah

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