What Is a Receiving Blanket?

How to Use This Versatile Baby Blanket

One of the most versatile types of baby blankets that you’ll use during your child’s first year of life is the receiving blanket. This soft, snuggly blanket is usually about 30 by 30 inches, consists of a thin cotton material and comes in packs of two to four. For the mom who has a busy home and work life, receiving blankets are the ideal mother’s little helpers when it comes to baby tasks like feeding, changing and cuddling. Be sure to have plenty of these on hand by the time your baby arrives.

Common Uses

Cute baby hiding under a baby blanket

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After a short time of using these soft cloth-like blankets, you’ll start wondering what you can’t do with them. Since they are machine washable, you can use them in place of burping cloths. The receiving blanket is larger than your typical burping cloth, so your clothing is better protected. As a changing table cover, the blanket provides comfort for your baby and protects against any accidents that might occur during diaper changing. Likewise, using the blanket as a play mat or protective barrier when your child is on the floor lets them roll around, sleep or play without you having to worry about the last time your friend’s carpets were cleaned. The blankets are also ideal for keeping your baby warm after a bath, or as a cover while breastfeeding.

When Baby Is Older

As your child ages out of the common uses for receiving blankets, you might wonder what to do with the piles of blankets you have around the house. The versatility of these cloth squares lends to numerous options for repurposing. At the very least, receiving blankets make great rags for cleaning, but for something more sentimental, consider transforming them into an item that will last a lifetime.

Sewing the blankets together to make a patchwork quilt is one of the most common upcycling tricks. The different-shaped squares and various colors of the blankets make a one-of-a-kind keepsake that you’ll treasure for years. Likewise, you can also create throw pillows, the outer layer of a teddy bear or a fabric banner of your child’s name for her room.

With a bit of creativity, you can come up with additional uses for extra blankets. Line the bottom of gift baskets or gift bags in lieu of tissue paper, or use them to protect your tables and surfaces from glitter, glue and paint when the kids do craft projects. Alternatively, put the cloths to use in your mudroom on rainy days to dry off wet shoes, floors and even Fido after a walk.

Swaddling vs. Receiving Blankets

Cute baby hiding under a baby blanket

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Often spoken of as though they are one and the same, swaddling blankets and receiving blanket actually have several differences between them. The swaddling blanket is usually larger in size, 47 by 47 inches versus 30 by 30 inches for the receiving blanket. Though receiving blankets are large enough to swaddle an infant, your baby will quickly outgrow them and prefer something larger. Receiving blankets do not have too much elasticity to them, if any at all. The swaddling blanket easily stretches so that you can securely tuck your child in. Some swaddling blankets come with attachments that make it easier to envelop in your child. Others unsnap on the bottom for easy diaper changes.

Other Types of Baby Blankets

Baby blankets are a common gift for an expectant mother, and by the time your child is born, you'll notice quite a collection of various types of blankets piling up in the nursery. Though all are soft and cuddly, differentiating between them can be confusing.

In addition to receiving and swaddling blankets, there is the crib blanket. This is usually part of your baby’s bedding and should be securely fastened to the crib with your baby lying on top. Never cover your child with a blanket while he is sleeping during the first year of life to prevent any chance of suffocation or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Use the crib blanket to keep your baby warm while in the stroller, or lay it out on the floor to provide a soft surface during playtime.

Another favorite of most children is the security blanket. Usually made of soft cotton flannel or fleece, these blankets are often personalized and can be embroidered with your child’s name or a picture of a favorite animal. Some come with stuffed animals attached, making the blanket a toy along with something that provides comfort and warmth.