Best Baby Swaddle Blankets Reviews in 2018
Swaddle blankets have been used for thousands of years to soothe young babies and to help them sleep. Recently, this traditional tool for baby care has become popular again as mothers search for natural solutions to parenting. But what qualities should you look for when buying a swaddling blanket?
What Is Swaddling?
Swaddling involves wrapping a blanket tightly around your baby. By snugly cocooning their body, it is thought that the blanket mimics the warmth and pressure of being in the mother's womb, which young infants find comforting. Cultures around the world have used swaddling for millennia to soothe young babies and help them sleep through the night. In the past ten years, swaddling has once again become popular. Since fear of SIDS has meant parents avoid placing loose blankets and bedding in the crib, many parents see swaddling as not only a method to help their babies sleep but also a way to provide warmth without the risk of smothering.
Reasons Why a Baby May Need to Be Swaddled
There are two main reasons you may want to swaddle your baby. First, swaddling provides comfort which can soothe your baby if they are colicky or upset. The pressure and warmth of the blanket around their body mimics the familiar environment of the womb and makes them feel protected and calm. Secondly, swaddling is beneficial at night, as it will help your baby sleep more soundly. Infants have what is known as a "startle reflex", and can wake themselves with sudden jerking movements. A swaddling blanket keeps a baby's body from jerking while they sleep, and will, therefore, help your baby stay asleep longer.
Proper swaddling techniques should be used at all times to keep your baby safe from overheating and from health problems such as hip dysplasia which can result from constraining a baby's lower half too tightly. Be sure to observe your infant closely when using a new swaddling blanket for signs of overheating and be sure to leave the lower half of the swaddle blanket comfortably loose.
It's important to note that most babies outgrow swaddling by the time they are around three or four months of age. This is because babies who are able to roll over and lift their heads may no longer like the constraint of their arms while asleep. It can also be dangerous to swaddle an infant who can roll over without freeing their arms, as this may cause your baby to become trapped face down in the crib.
Factors To Consider When Buying Baby Swaddle Blankets
Rectangular vs. Shaped
Traditionally, swaddle blankets are square or rectangular, and the pressure created by these blankets is achieved by folding and wrapping the blanket in a specific way. The disadvantage to this style of blanket is that you must learn how to wrap your baby the correct way. Blankets which are too tight can cause a baby harm while wrapping the blanket too loosely will not provide the benefits of swaddling and the baby may wiggle free.
Shaped blankets specifically designed for swaddling are a more recent invention. These blankets usually have a pouch for the lower half of your baby's body which allows for free movement of their legs and hips. This freedom of movement helps prevent health issues such as hip dysplasia. The top half of the wrap uses two wide compression straps to hold the baby's arms in place and to apply gentle pressure on their torso.
Your Baby's Preference
Each baby is different and unique, so standard swaddling blankets may not always be the best fit for your baby. When you first begin using swaddling blankets with your infant, you will need to experiment to see what size or shape of blanket works best for them. Your decision to use either a traditional rectangular blanket or a wrap-style swaddling blanket may also largely depend on your baby's preference and on your ability to wrap.
Since it takes practice and patience to learn how to properly wrap a traditional swaddling blanket, many mothers choose to use shaped swaddling wraps instead. If you choose to use a rectangular swaddle, or if you baby prefers them, there are videos online that can help you learn how to do so properly.
Because babies are at risk from overheating in the crib, it is important to choose swaddling blankets that are made from breathable materials that won't hold in too much heat. Natural fabrics make great choices since they will keep your infant warm while still allowing air to penetrate through the multiple layers of a swaddling blanket.
Most rectangular swaddling blankets are made from an ultra soft, slightly stretchy material referred to as "muslin" or "gauze". Because it is made from cotton but is softer and more breathable than other woven cotton fabrics, it is now the go-to choice for most traditional style swaddling blankets.
Wrap-style blankets are often made out of the same knit fabric that baby clothes use. Because there are fewer layers of fabric needed, they are able to use a slightly heavier fabric than traditional blankets. Some also have mesh vents to allow for more air flow.
Receiving blankets are typically around 30 inches square, which will be too small to use as a swaddling blanket for most infants. A better choice for small babies would be a blanket that is 40 inches square, and large or wiggly babies may need a blanket as big as 47 inches square. The size of blanket you use will also depend on the type of fabric it is made from. A smaller blanket made from stretchier fabric can often work as well or better than a larger blanket that isn't stretchy.
Fitted swaddling wraps are also available in multiple sizes. Although the top section is typically adjustable with the use of velcro straps, some modern wraps will offer more room below the waist for freedom of movement, while others may confine your baby more tightly.
Five Best Baby Swaddle Blankets
Now that you know the basic features of swaddling blankets, let's take a closer look at a few of the best swaddling blankets available.
Aden + Anais Swaddleplus
Aden + Anais Swaddleplus blankets are made from an ultra soft 100% cotton muslin fabric which gets softer each time you wash it. The gauzy fabric is thin - almost like cheesecloth - and is quite breathable. Parents with babies who can escape other blankets will find that the stretch in the fabric allows them to wrap their baby more tightly than other blankets. These blankets are 44 inches by 44 inches, making them slightly smaller than average, and they are best suited for smaller or younger infants. The company also makes blankets in the same style and fabric, but in a larger size for larger or older babies.
Kelham and Cole Muslin Baby Swaddle Blankets
These adorable muslin blankets come in several gender neutral prints. At 47 inches square, they are considered extra large, and will fit larger babies or can be used for wiggly infants who are able to get free of smaller blankets. Like other muslin blankets, these are exceptionally soft and breathable, making them a perfect choice for warm nights. Despite their gauzy appearance, these blankets are quite durable and will last well into your child's toddlerhood. Once your baby no longer needs them for swaddling, you can use them as a light sun shade for their stroller, as a breastfeeding cover, as a changing pad, or as a burp cloth.
Hudson Baby Muslin Swaddle Blankets
This set of traditional swaddling blankets in two different feminine prints is a great option for your new little girl. The 46 inch square blankets are a perfect size for most babies, but especially for older babies or for infants who wiggle out of smaller sized blankets. This means that they may be too large for smaller babies. Like other cotton muslin blankets, these are machine washable and very breathable. They are less expensive than other similar brands of swaddling blankets but unfortunately, you may find that they are not as soft as other brands, too. Many parents report that after washing these blankets several times, the fabric is not as soft and luxurious as other blankets.
Ziggy Baby Swaddle Blanket Wrap Set
These adjustable baby swaddle wraps create a soothing womb-like sensation for newborns. Traditional swaddling blankets can be difficult to manage late at night if you need to feed or change your baby. You may find it simpler to use the adjustable fabric wings on this wrap which close with hook and loop attachments. And because they are a universal size, they are a perfect fit for most young babies. The recommended weight for these swaddle wraps is 7-14lbs. It's also thin enough for summer wear. However, since this wrap comes in one size, older infants or those that are longer than average may not be comfortable in the wrap.
SwaddleMe Original Swaddle
The SwaddleMe Original Swaddle was one of the first modern swaddle wrap options and is a great swaddle blanket for parents with babies between 0 and 6 months of age. The wrap is closed with velcro closures making it easy to readjust the tightness of the wrap during late night diaper changes. Unlike other brands, these wraps have a harness slit which works with most restraints on car seats to ensure that your newborn will be safe and secure during car trips. This company also offers options for older babies like the Wrapsack which leaves arms and legs free and helps ease the transition to swaddle-free sleep.
Remember that your baby will likely prefer one style of swaddle blanket over others, so plan on having more than one kind of blanket for your baby. While fitted wrap-style swaddling blankets are usually more expensive than simple traditional square-shaped blankets, the size and kind of material used will also have an impact your baby's comfort. No matter whether you choose square or wrap-style blankets, you should be able to find sets of three or four blankets for between $15 and $40 dollars.
Out of the five blankets in this review, the best option overall is the Kelham and Cole Muslin Baby Swaddle Blankets. Not only are they large enough for older babies and fussy sleepers, but the fabric is among the softest and most comfortable of any swaddling blankets available. Because it is a simple, traditional muslin blanket, once your child outgrows the swaddling stage, you can use the blanket for other purposes, unlike wrap-style swaddling blankets. The simple, neutral prints are also quite aesthetically pleasing no matter whether you use them for a boy or girl.
Ultimately, the blanket you choose will largely depend on whether you prefer traditional swaddling or if you prefer the convenience of modern wrap-style swaddling blankets. It will also depend on your baby's preference since they may be more comfortable in one style of swaddling blanket.