Yes, I realize that I am posting pictorial evidence of the fact that I had a blanket and sucked my thumb at 6.
Ok, first point is a big sanity making one.
You want a life saver in those early days when the baby will NOT stop crying - learn to swaddle and learn to swaddle well. Reading Dr. Karp's Happiest Baby on the Block is great but even better - watch the video! Unfortunately, we didn't do this until after the baby was born which meant that we'd also already done all of our sorting, returning, and washing of baby stuff including all the blankets. Watching the video made me realize that we'd kept all the wrong blankets!
See, in the hospital the nurses are experts at wrapping the newborns up in flannel blankets.
Let me tell you that this is nearly impossible a skill to perfect when you really need it. And if you have a houdini like we did, the swaddle won't last. Dr. Karp's suggestion in the video is to use a blanket with some stretch. Holy cow! Total lifesaver! Just that one little suggestion made all the difference.
Gerber thermal blankets were really good but they tended to be on the small side so they only worked when she was tiny. The Carters receiving blankets are really nice as well and a little bigger so they lasted longer. As the weather got warmer and she got bigger, the Aden and Anais for Target muslin blankets became indispensable. I even used them as a nursing cover when we were on planes. I'd love to try these from Etsy for the next time.
Now don't get me wrong, flannel receiving blankets - whether it's the 4 pack from Carters, homemade (so much cuter if someone you know has the skills), or the Swaddle Designs blankets (super cute but really, save your money) - have a lot of uses. Ground cover. Sun Shade. Light warmth. They just don't really cut it as swaddling blankets.
We did also have a couple Summer Infant SwaddleMe swaddle blankets. They were easier to deal with in the middle of the night but Sweet Pea is a houdini and they never held her for long. So those were kind of hit or miss.
The other big consideration about blankets is the security blanket or lovey. I will admit that I am weird and I hate, hate, hate those lovies that are little chunks of blanket with a stuffed animal head on it.
Like this little guy. Cute, right? I just find it weird and oddly disturbing. We have two that were given to us as gifts. One oddly enough has different washing instructions for the head and blanket parts. You can machine wash/dry the blanket part but not the head part. What?!
As for nice soft blankets, there are plenty of options. Just a few words to the wise - decide which one you might want to encourage a few months down the line (people say you can't choose a child's lovey but you can certainly encourage or discourage whatever you want) and make sure sure you have or can get more than one. As a woman who spent a good 2 hours today trying to track down potential replacements, trust me on this one. Also consider that you will potentially have to take the lovey everywhere for several years to come.
- Flannel receiving blankets have their uses but not as swaddling blankets.
- Swaddling blankets need, need, need some stretch.
- Choose your lovey/security object wisely. By "choose" of course, I mean only offer things that you can handle baby becoming attached to.