What Is A Receiving Blanket?

what is a receiving blanket

A receiving blanket is the most common and versatile type of blanket a new mom will need for her baby. It’s a soft blanket that most families receive their newborn snuggled in at the hospital, hence the term ‘receiving blanket.’

Soon-to-be moms usually get several receiving blankets as baby shower gifts, which is a testament to how essential they are for a newborn. They are made of flannel cotton material, which is soft and suitable for a newborn’s delicate body and skin.

The blanket is wrapped around the baby to help soothe and comfort them as they adapt to life outside the womb.

Sudden movements of their arms and legs may frighten them or wake them up. Its thin quality allows airflow to prevent overheating, and it’s also perfect for layering in case it gets too cold.

You’ve probably seen pictures of a newborn, wrapped in the typical hospital design – white with blue and pink stripes along the edges.

However, the receiving blanket comes in various colors and designs. They typically measure 30 inches by 30 inches and come in packs of 2 to 4.

what is a receiving blanket

How Many Receiving Blankets Do I Need For Hospital?

Whether you have receiving blankets or not, you’ll need them when you deliver your baby. Most hospitals will provide you with enough blankets to use during your stay there. Some hospitals even give you some to go home with.

That said, you might want to come with your blankets. Maybe you don’t want to use what the hospital provides. In this case, you will need about 3 blankets a day.

One for wrapping the baby, one for lining the bassinet, and one for just in case the baby spits up. If you’re staying for 3 days, that’s a total of 9.

If you think that’s too much, remember that in the case of receiving blankets, it’s better to have it and not need it than the reverse. If you’re open to using the hospital blankets, you might need 2 to 3 extra cute or colored blankets for the family photographs.

On the day you’re leaving the hospital, you might want to cover your baby with an extra blanket, tucked around their car seat if it’s cold. Ultimately, the number of receiving blankets you need for the hospital is a personal choice.

MUST READ: What To Wear After Giving Birth In The Hospital

What is a receiving blanket?
Personalized Baby Blanket


Receiving Blanket Vs Swaddle Blanket

On top of all the other baby requirements, the various types of baby blankets can overwhelm a new mom. What’s the difference? Do I need them all? How do I use them? The most common confusion comes between a receiving blanket vs a swaddle blanket. So, what the difference?

Swaddling is a traditional practice of wrapping an infant securely for security and comfort. The goal of swaddling is basically to create a safe environment, similar to the womb – warm and cozy that they’ve grown accustomed to over the past 9 months.

Newborns sleep better through the reactions of the nervous system where their arms and legs suddenly move around. This swaddling practice is highly recommended by the AAP – American Academy of Pediatrics to calm down a crying baby.

Most times, people use receiving blankets to swaddle babies. However, there is a significant difference between a receiving blanket and a swaddle blanket.

Think about it this way; all receiving blankets can be swaddle blankets, but not all swaddles can be receiving blankets.

Shape and Features

One significant difference between the two is the shapes and features. Receiving blankets are typically designed in square or rectangular shape without any extra features.

Swaddle blankets, on the other hand, mostly come in a taco-like shape and have two winged sides to help swaddle your little one securely. It also comes with extra features like Velcro, zippers, snaps, and so on.


Generally, receiving blankets are smaller than swaddle blankets. What is the size of a receiving blanket? It ranges from 18 square inches to 36 square inches.

Your infant might outgrow the smaller size quickly. If they weigh close to 10 lbs, they may use the bigger size but not for long.

Swaddle blankets vary in size and can fit babies of different sizes. Some can be as small as receiving blankets at 30 inches by 30 inches, and others as large as 48 inches by 48 inches.

Depending on the size of your baby, choose a size that provides enough material to work with so that you can get the swaddle right.

A teddy bear and a receiving blanket


Receiving blankets come in different fabrics, colors, and prints for boys and girls. Some can be lightweight muslin and extra thin (almost see-through) while others are made with a slightly thicker flannel (the ones you get at the hospital).

Some receiving blankets are heavier, with a few layers of muslin. This makes them more like a traditional blanket, which is a bit difficult to swaddle with, but it’s possible. Others are made from thin cotton.

Swaddle blankets come in so many styles. If you prefer the swaddle with Velcro or zippers, they are usually sized by their age in months or the baby’s weight. So, you don’t have to worry about which one will fit your baby.


You won’t regret buying too many receiving blankets or feel bad about your baby outgrowing them. You’ll continue to use them even after your infant is not so little anymore.

Their square or rectangular shape is versatile and can be used for several other purposes, while swaddle blankets are specifically designed for swaddling.

Common Uses for a Receiving Blanket

A receiving blanket is one of the most useful items any mother can buy. After using them for a couple of months, you’ll realize that you need the receiving blankets for so much more than wrapping up your infant. Their versatility allows you to use them for so many other functions after your child grows older.

Covering for Warmth

Your receiving blanket may not be able to fit around your baby’s body, but it can still cover them while they nap. The blanket will provide a certain degree of warmth, but its softness and lightness will keep the baby cool because of the airflow.

Play Area

Some surfaces are not safe for baby to sit or lie on, like dirty carpets or cold floors. If you don’t have a play mat or maybe you’ve gone visiting where it’s not baby-friendly, simply layout the receiving blanket. You can easily carry it around and provide a safe, clean space for your baby to lie down and play.

Burp Cloth

Although some brands have specifically designed a burp cloth that you can place over your shoulder while holding your baby in a burping position after their feed, these blankets can do the same thing. Before a baby can eat solid food, they tend to spit out a lot. You might end up using several burping cloths a week.

When you’re running out of burp cloths, these blankets are excellent substitutes. If you’re out and about with your infant, the last thing you need is extra baggage in your bag. This handy blanket will efficiently pull double duty.

Changing Mat

Some regular changing mats are not easy to carry around wherever you go. When a parent and baby are both on the move, you need quick and easy solutions. When the need arises, you can make the blanket a changing space for your baby in a matter of minutes.

You can keep the changing mat for home use. You won’t need to buy one for travel. The receiving blanket cushions and provides comfort so the baby can lie down quickly for a diaper change.

MUST READ: How To Choose The Best Tummy Time Mats

Breast Feeding Cover Up

When your baby is hungry, it doesn’t matter whether you’re walking in the park, shopping at the mall, or enjoying a family reunion. They just want to feed at that moment. For privacy, it helps to have a decent covering for you and baby so that you can feed them calmly.

Whip out that receiving blanket from the diaper bag and drape it across your shoulder and over the baby for privacy.

Their size makes it easy to pop them in and out of the diaper bag when you need to feed on the go. Additionally, they clean up any milk that leaked while feeding.

MUST READ: Breastfeeding Essentials For Nursing Moms

Post-Bath Wrap

You can also use the receiving blanket to wrap the baby after a bath instead of a regular towel. The soft and thin material absorbs water easily, is gentle on the skin, and, at the same time, still keeps the baby warm after a bath.

Full Body Bib

Regular bibs are better suited for babies that have a hang of the eating game. For the babies that are just discovering how to pick up food and put it in their mouths, it’s a different scenario. They can cause a huge mess, not only around them but on themselves from head to toe.

Receiving blankets come in handy to keep their clothes clean – who needs extra laundry?  You can safely tuck one end of the blanket in your baby’s shirt or dress around their neck and slip the other end under their bum to create a full-body bib with just their head and little arms out.

Stroller Cover

You can’t always predict the weather, no matter what the forecast said. It might look like perfect weather when you step outside with your newborn, but you never know. Always carry along a receiver blanket in the stroller basket just in case.

You might need it as a stroller cover for extra shade to shield baby from the sun or protect them from the rain. You can also use it as a car seat cover for when you’re taking the baby out of the car.

Other Uses

Some moms turn their babies’ blankets into sentimental mementos like pillows, stuffed toys, or quilts. If you’re sentimental but not crafty, ask someone else to do it for you. Old receiving blankets can also be cleaning rags around the house.

Whether you’re a crafty parent or not, you can apply the idea of using receiving blankets as materials to make pillows. All you have to do is cut up some blankets to reasonable pillow sizes, then buy some pillow stuffing, usually from your neighborhood craft shop.

Sew the blanket pieces together and stuff the pillow. If you’re left with lots of leftover blankets, wouldn’t it be fun to make throw pillows that match your baby’s quilt?

When your kids are sick, you can use them to catch any messes. Cover your furniture to make cleanups much easier. You can also keep them in the car for any spills or emergencies. When you’ve run out of box tissue, pop out the blanket.

receiving blanket vs swaddle blanket

How to Use a Receiving Blanket Safely

You might think that using a blanket is a no-brainer, but you can easily put your baby’s life at risk out of ignorance. Dr. Stephanie Graziani, a practicing pediatrics doctor with Digital Health Medical Group in California, provides these safety guidelines:

  • Stop swaddling your baby when they start rolling over.
  • Never leave the blanket loose in the crib.
  • Do not wrap the blanket around your baby’s neck or head.
  • Do not cover your baby with the blanket before they are one year old.

Parents should ensure that receiving blankets are made from simple cotton and are lightweight. Swaddling babies in thick heavy blankets will cause overheating and increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Other Types of Baby Blankets

Besides the receiving blanket and swaddling blanket, parents can purchase several other types of blankets depending on their needs. Although no other blanket is as versatile as the receiving blanket, each of them has unique features and purpose.

Security Blanket

In their first months, babies form a close bond with their mothers because they depend on the mother for everything. As they grow older, they develop separation anxiety because when she leaves, they don’t know when she will come back, especially at night. This is where a security blanket comes in handy, for comfort and security.

Not only will the baby sleep better but you, the parent as well. Their need for comfort at night will move from you to the security blanket.

Research has proven that babies who have security blankets or other soft security objects turn out better adjusted in the long term than those that do not have a security object.

Security blankets are made from fleece or soft plush. Sometimes they have a stuffed animal attached. Children take the blanket everywhere for years until they are 2 or 3 years old.

So, when purchasing the blanket, be sure of its quality and durability. You could consider purchasing a personalized blanket to hold more meaning to the child when they are older.

Crib Blanket

A crib blanket is a bigger size blanket that mostly stays in your baby’s bed. It’s a good idea to have a blanket specifically for the crib and not use it for other purposes as well. Having more than one crib blanket helps in case of any accidents that require immediate replacement.

The suitable age for your baby to have a crib blanket is one year. They should be able to roll over and maneuver the bed on their own.

Loose covers in the crib are a suffocation hazard to babies below one year. A crib blanket will help your baby regulate their body temperature. These blankets come in different materials and sizes.

Sleep Sack

Sleep sacks are a relatively new concept compared to other baby blankets. This is a wearable blanket (shaped like a sack), suitable for babies below one year who are still at the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

After 8 weeks, should you choose to use a sleep sack, it should be a sleeveless one to allow some form of movement. Using a regular blanket in your baby’s crib at this age is risky because the baby can pull it over his face or get tangled in it. This makes sleep sacks a great alternative that is safe and comfortable.

Cotton Blanket

Cotton blankets are the best choice for summer months. Your baby will sleep comfortably and won’t overheat. The fabric is soft, absorbent, and budget-friendly. It is also strong and long-lasting, with limited chances of wear and tear.

Maintaining this blanket is a breeze as it can be washed and ironed easily without damaging it. Cotton is an excellent insulator, especially in dry conditions. It loses insulation when it gets wet.

Thermal Blankets

Thermal baby blankets are made from light, thermal material. They are the perfect blankets for your baby’s summer afternoon naps.

On these days, your baby will need a light covering over them. Maintenance is easy as they wash well and can be used all year round. Thermal blankets come in various colors.

Flannel Blankets

This is a type of baby blanket that is lightweight, soft, and woven with cotton, wool, and synthetic fiber. Most flannel baby blankets come in several colors with attractive patterns.

This blanket will keep your baby cozy while allowing excess heat to escape, so there’s no risk of overheating. This is the perfect blanket if you fancy a combination of comfort and aesthetics.

Fleece Blankets

Fleece blankets are made from synthetic fabric, polyester, which is soft and fuzzy. Some babies have sensitive skin or are allergic to wool. Fleece is an excellent alternative as it provides a similar warmth and softness.

A distinct feature of fleece blankets is that it’s a wicking fabric that draws moisture away from the baby’s body. This helps in keeping the fabric dry and the baby cool. Talk about a healthy balance of comfort and breathability.

Crocheted Blankets

You might receive a couple of crocheted baby blankets from a kind aunt or cousin. The comfortable crocheted blanket is made with soft yarn.

If you plan to make some for yourself, keep that in mind. If your well-meaning relative blesses you with a blanket made with rough yarn, don’t turn it away.

Instead, get creative and use it as a décor piece in the baby’s nursery. For younger babies, they may get tangled, or their fingers and toes will get stuck in the crocheted patterns.


Keeping your child warm with blankets is not set in stone. You can change things up a bit by using a baby quilt. The standard size for crib quilts is 36 inches by 52 inches but don’t feel constrained. Your baby’s crib mattress might require a slightly bigger size.

The market has a variety of baby quilts in different patterns and colors. You can select your quilt based on the nursery décor.

Even better, collect pieces of cloth that have a sentimental value to you or your family and have someone patch them together into a quilt for your little one.

At the end of the day, consider the purpose of buying the baby blanket, whether it’s for your baby or a gift. This will guide your decision about purchasing the perfect ones. With the wide range of blankets on the market today, you’re sure to find exactly what you need.


Let’s agree that every parent must own a couple of receiving blankets. Hopefully, you’re now clear on what a receiving blanket is and how it’s different from a swaddling blanket.

No doubt, this blanket is an essential item for new parents as they begin this journey. Its versatile nature makes it useful well into the toddler stages of the child in many ways.

Remember that there’s a right and wrong way to use a receiving blanket. Keep your child safe from sudden infant death syndrome by following the recommended safety guidelines. Invest in different patterns and fun colors, not just plain white.

As your baby grows older, you can try other types of baby blankets to keep your baby warm or comfortable, depending on your needs.


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