Walk into any nursery or home with a new baby and you’ll likely find dozens of them—receiving blankets. That white, pink, and blue cloth around your child at the hospital? That’s their (and yours!) first receiving blanket.

While the hospital receiving blanket is the first, it’s definitely not the last. These are multi-use objects. Parents reach for them for protection, quick cleanups, swaddling, and more.

What Are Receiving Blankets and What Are They Used For?

New parents will use a lot of blankets throughout infancy. So what makes a blanket a receiving blanket? Typically, they’re thin and usually made from cotton or flannel. Though other materials are used too. They’re often smaller than swaddling blankets and come in the shape of a square or a rectangle.

In the hospital, nurses and doctors use these because they are warm, absorbent, and easy to wash. The iconic baby blankets we see in hospitals are from Medline, a company based in Mundelein, Illinois. They sell about 1.5 million of these “Kuddle-Up” blankets a year, and roughly 25 million since 1980.

At home, well, receiving blankets are workhorses. Try any of these:

  • Post-bath wrapping. These blankets are comfortable and soft on bare skin and retain heat. Perfect for cozying up after a bath.
  • Burp cloths. They are a bit bigger than the traditional burp cloth, but some babies are messy. Use a receiving blanket to mop up that spit-up.
  • Changing mats. Need a cover-up in a public location to protect your baby and the surface? The receiving blanket can give you a more sanitary changing space to get on a new diaper.
  • Swaddling. While you may have swaddling blankets for this purpose, a receiving blanket can still be the right size for a young baby.
  • Playmats. Just like a diaper changing mat, sometimes you just need a clean space for your baby to play. Keep an extra blanket in your diaper bag for the park or visits to friends and family.
  • Lovey. Blankie as comfort object? Classic choice.
    Weather protector. Plop a blanket on your stroller to shield your baby from the sun, rain, or wind.
  • Nursing cloth. Some parents use receiving blankets for a bit of privacy when breastfeeding. Clean up too.

Swaddling Blanket or Receiving Blanket?

Some parents use swaddling blankets and receiving blankets interchangeably. But there are a few differences.

Receiving blankets are smaller, but can handle heavier use. They are made to be laundered repeatedly. Most can be used whether it’s hot, cold, or somewhere in between too.

On the other hand, swaddling blankets stretch tightly around babies. Size and materials vary for different sized-babies and different temperatures. Some swaddling cloths use Velcro, flaps, or shapes to make swaddling easier.

Think of receiving blankets as your jack-of-all-trades and swaddling blankets are specialists. You can, of course, use a receiving blanket as a swaddling option. Check out this video for 5 ways to swaddle with a receiving blanket.

Receiving Blankets & Safety

Keep in mind a few basic tips for blanket safety. From the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Don’t place a receiving blanket loose in the crib with your sleeping baby.
  • Do make sure they don’t restrict breathing.
  • Don’t wrap the baby’s head or neck.
  • Do watch out for overheating.

Just a few guidelines and you can use your receiving blanket like a pro.

Find Your Favorite Receiving Blanket

Now that you know the ins and outs of receiving blankets, here are some options to get blankets of your own—other than the hospital.

June and January Basic Baby Blankets

Want something bright and bold? You can’t go wrong with these lightweight blankets from June and January. A great option for spring and summer.

Simple Joys by Carters 7-Pack Flannel Blankets

These blankets come in packs of 7 with multiple color options. Use a color-coordinated set so you have one for every diaper bag and a few to spare.

Monica & Andy Coming Home Blanket

These blankets are a great option for more non-traditional patterns. Wrap your child in a receiving blanket with UFOs or cacti for a touch of whimsy.

Luvable Friends Cotton Flannel Baby Blanket

These affordable cotton blankets come in seven packs. And there are a ton to choose from—colors, patterns, animals, and more.

Little Giraffe Chenille Baby Blanket

For a touch of luxe and designer “snuggliness,” check out these receiving cloths from Little Giraffe. The blankets come in multiple color options with matching satin edges. One of the softest options around.

Whichever you choose, know that you have plenty of options. And plenty of time to experiment to find the best receiving blankets for you and your baby. Soon enough, you’ll be onto one of the biggest steps in your new parenting journey—finding child care help. When you’re ready, Sittercity can help you find the child care that you and your baby need.

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