How big are baby blankets? At first glance, that sounds like a perfectly reasonable question.
But the more you stare at it, the more you realize it contains one central problem: there’s no such thing as a single, one-size-fits-all-occasions baby blanket.
There are blankets for cribs, blankets for swaddling, blankets for a whole range of situations. They’re not all going to be the same size, because they don’t all fulfill the same function.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the most popular baby blankets people buy – or more often, make – for the newest arrival in the life of their family or friend-circle – and see what size fits what blanket.
What’s a swaddle blanket, and what is it for?
Swaddling is a practice long known and understood between mothers of babies – in fact, it’s well-rehearsed that Mary, having delivered the baby Jesus, “wrapped him in swaddling clothes” before laying him in the manger.
Which would explain why, in the hymn Silent Night, “no crying he makes,” because that’s essentially the purpose of a swaddling blanket. It’s a light blanket wrapped pretty snugly around a young baby to make them feel calm and enclosed.
It replicates the feeling of being in the womb as much as possible – a warm, but not too warm, restrictive, but not too restrictive limitation of the wide world into just them and the thing they can feel around them, keeping them safe.
It’s been shown to help calm a crying or distressed baby and is now recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for that purpose.
As well as providing an environment of calm, swaddling blankets also help young babies to sleep through the jerks of their newly overstimulated nervous systems, and get better rest than they otherwise would.
So, what should the ideal swaddling blanket look like?
It should be thin and lightweight – you’re not trying to overheat the poor child – so something like cotton muslin is ideal
In terms of size, one might as well ask “What size is the baby?” They can be bought (or made) to fit the baby, but there are some usual standards.
The likes of Upsimples are a standard 47×47 inch square, while other companies prefer a 40-by-40 size.
The American Baby Company even allows for a 30×40 inch option. There’s no single right answer on this, just as long as the blanket is big enough to do the job.
Not enough swaddle, and there’ll be plenty of crying made around your particular manger, and no chance of a silent night.
While swaddling blankets need to be big enough to swaddle the baby in, receiving blankets are more the multi-purpose, ever-ready blanket you grab in any moment of doubt or need.
You can use them for swaddling if the baby is small enough, but they’re generally smaller than traditional swaddling blankets – and that’s a function of their… multi-functionalism.
Swaddling, burping, light cribbing, you name it, you can use a receiving blanket to do it. Because of their multi-functionalism, you can get or make them in a range of sizes.
They become a receiving blanket by virtue of being there and ready to do the task that’s needed, so you can have an 18-inch square receiving blanket or anything up to a 36-inch square.
Receiving blankets are useful at whatever size they’re made in because they’re there in the moment of need. They’re also available in larger packs – Carter’s Baby has a 7-pack that is useful, though they’re all a single 30×30 inch size.
Let’s be clear here.
Under the age of 1 year, loose blankets in cribs are a big no-no. So timing is crucial when it comes to crib blankets.
After the age of 1 though, blankets become a viable option in cribs. Usually mimicking the style of blankets on adult beds, they’re generally rectangular, and around the 40×60 inch mark, because one thing you don’t want is a baby waking up in the night with cold toes and a distinct intention to let the world know that that situation is not meeting their requirements.
What you need in a crib blanket is softness, and an absolute lack of potential pulling, choking, or catching hazards.
No buttons, no loose threads, no gaping holes that might accidentally twist questing thumbs, thank you very much.
Tillyou has the sort of thing you’re looking for, though notably, it goes with a shorter option at 40×50 inches.
By the time your baby is ready for a crib blanket, you’ll know not only their length but their degree of nocturnal squirminess, so you’ll be in a position to judge whether the length is right for them.
We know, we just said receiving blankets were the ultimate in multi-use blankets – and so they are, around the house. When you venture out into the world though, you need a multi-use blanket with more substance to it.
A thicker blanket can become the boundaries of soft play space, and then revert to being a stroller favorite, or a car seat protector for the journey home.
Multi-use blankets frequently come in the 30-40 inch range, though SunStyle offers a 36-48 inch option.
Let’s do a quick recap on the (rough) guide to baby blanket sizes.
Baby Blanket Size Guide
|Swaddle blankets||Anywhere from 30×40 to 48×48|
|Receiving blankets||Anywhere from 18-inch square to 36-inch square|
|Crib blankets||40×50, or 40×60 inches, depending on the baby length and squirm factors|
|Multi-use blankets||Anything from 30 inches to 48 inches|
It doesn’t matter whether you’re buying your blankets as a gift to the newborn in the family, or going old-school and making your own as a kind of double-dose of both practicality and longstanding sentiment to be passed on through generations.
The blankets a baby encounters in their early years can help ensure they have better sleep and develop stronger rhythms, routines, and associations.
There are only a handful of practical rules when it comes to the right size – swaddle blankets should be big enough to swaddle the baby, crib blankets long enough to cover their feet, and so on.
Stick within the general guidelines and the newborn should have a better time in their early lives, thanks to your thoughtfulness.