What Is A Receiving Blanket? Uses And Safety Tips

Image: Shutterstock


The beautiful moment when you held your baby for the first time in your arms is forever etched in your memories. You may even recall the tiny blanket that was wrapped around your newborn when they were brought to you. This piece of clothing that is usually the first to touch the delicate skin of the baby is called a receiving blanket.

A receiving blanket is a staple item in the maternity ward. Its unique name comes from the fact that a newborn is wrapped in a receiving blanket before being “received” by the mother. Read on to know more about receiving blankets, the various uses of receiving blankets, how to pick the right one, and ways to make your very own receiving blanket.

What Is A Receiving Blanket?

A receiving blanket is a soft, thin baby blanket that typically measures 30 x 30 inches. It is usually made of cotton, fleece, muslin, or flannel. Also, they feature several color options with adorable patterns. Generally, it is available in a multipack of three or four and can be machine washed. In addition to protecting your baby against the cold, the receiving blanket can serve many additional purposes, as well.

How To Select The Right Receiving Blanket

Preferably buy receiving blankets made of soft, light, and absorbent cotton. Receiving blankets made of cotton fabric are less likely to irritate the baby’s delicate skin and will keep them comfortably warm.

A swaddle blanket is another type of blanket available in the market. Many times, the terms “receiving blanket” and “swaddle blanket” are used interchangeably, although these blankets are different from one another.

Difference Between A Swaddle Blanket And Receiving Blankets

  • Size: A swaddle blanket is generally bigger with the size of about 47 x 47 inches, while a receiving blanket is smaller, generally 30 x 30 inches in size.
  • Purpose: A swaddle blanket is specifically designed for swaddling babies. The process of swaddling calms wriggly babies and prevents them from scratching themselves. While a receiving blanket can also be used for swaddling small infants , it is more versatile because of its square shape.
  • Shape: A swaddle blanket has winged sides, usually with a Velcro fastener, and is stretchable to securely wrap the baby, while the receiving blanket is generally rectangular or square with little or no stretch.

While both blankets can be used for swaddling, receiving blankets can be used for many other purposes, as well.

How To Swaddle With A Receiving Blanket

Image: Shutterstock

Here are the steps to follow to swaddle a baby with a receiving blanket.

Step 1: Lay the receiving blanket on a flat surface, fold one corner of the receiving blanket down as shown in figure 1. Place the baby, face-up in the middle, with baby’s shoulders at the fold and the head above the blanket.

Step 2: Place the baby’s right arm close to their body. Pull the left edge of the blanket across the body and tuck it in beneath the baby’s left arm.

Step 3: Lift the lower end of the blanket upwards and place it over the left shoulder of the baby. Leave the baby’s legs in their natural bent position.Do not straighten the legs.

Step 4:Pull the right end of the blanket towards the baby’s right shoulder and wrap it around the baby’s back.

Step 5: Tuck the loose ends and keep the swaddle snug but not tight. Check if you can insert two to three fingers between the baby’s neck and chest and the blanket.

Various Uses Of A Receiving Blanket For Babies

Apart from being your baby’s first clothing, the receiving blanket has many additional uses (1) (2).

  1. Provide warmth or play area for the baby: The receiving blanket is the perfect baby companion during cold winter nights. Wrapping the baby snugly in the receiving blanket provides warmth and comfort to the baby. The lightweight nature of the material minimizes the risk of overheating.
  1. Burp cloth and playmat: Infants may spit up some stomach contents while burping. You may usually use a burp cloth to wipe the baby’s mouth in such cases. However, if burp cloth is unavailable, you could use a receiving blanket, too. Also, if you are outdoors and have forgotten your baby’s playmat, you could use a receiving blanket. The soft texture of the blanket can protect the baby’s skin from rough surfaces.
  1. Substitute changing mat: When changing baby’s diapers outdoors, the hard and cold surface of a changing table in the public restroom may cause discomfort to the baby. If you do not have a changing mat with you, a receiving blanket could make for a perfect replacement. It provides a soft surface, acts as a cushion, and protects the baby from germs present on the changing table.
  1. Stroller shade and car seat blanket: A receiving blanket could work as a stroller shade when strolling outdoors under the hot sun. However, make sure to keep checking on your baby to avoid overheating. The blanket could also act as a temporary rain cover in case of unexpected rainfall. Also, you can use it as a car seat blanket when traveling with your little one on a long journey.
  1. Apron: Older babies love playing with colors and crayons, which may stain their clothes. You could use a receiving blanket as an apron to protect the baby’s clothing. Since receiving blankets are washable, you can wash and reuse them again.
  1. Cleaning cloth: Babies are innately curious and tend to make a mess while they explore. Receiving blankets can be used to clean up these messes. After your little one grows up, these receiving blankets can be used as a regular cleaning cloth due to its absorbent material.
  1. Large bib: Babies are notoriously fussy and messy eaters. Nevertheless, letting the babies explore and feed themselves is imperative for developing their self-feeding skills. In such cases, if you do not have a bib available, you could use a receiving blanket as a replacement bib. A receiving blanket could cover a larger surface area than a bib and thus manage the mess better.
  1. Play peekaboo: Peekaboo is an amazing bonding game for mom and the baby. Infants love the surprise element and laugh a lot while playing. The receiving blanket is light and not too big, so the little hands of the baby can easily hold it for playing peekaboo.

Safety Tips When Using Receiving Blankets For Babies

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, using loose blankets inside the baby’s crib may increase the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) (3). Therefore, it is imperative to use a receiving blanket correctly.

Below are some essential tips for the safe usage of receiving blankets.

  • Do not leave loose receiving blankets inside the crib since it may increase the risk of suffocation.
  • Keep the swaddling loose so that the baby can move their hips. Also, check if the wrap is loose at the neck and chest.
  • Do not straighten the baby’s legs to wrap them tightly when swaddling with a receiving blanket. Tightly wrapping a baby’s straightened legs may increase the risk of hip dislocation.
  • Never wrap blankets behind the baby’s head, face, and neck.
  • According to pediatricians, always place a swaddled baby on their back to sleep since it is the safest sleep position for a baby.
  • Stop using a receiving blanket for swaddling once the baby begins to roll. Rolling may cause the blanket to slide over the baby’s face. Babies may begin rolling from the age of four months (4).
  • If you are using the receiving blanket as a stroller shade or as a car seat cover, keep checking on the baby to ensure that he or she does not overheat or suffocate.

How To Make A DIY Receiving Blanket?

While a variety of receiving blankets are available in the market, making one yourself for the baby is a special feeling. Making one is quite simple and does not need a lot of supplies. If you are capable of stitching a straight line, this can be a new project you can take up.

Materials required:

  • One yard (36 inches) of soft flannel or cotton fabric
  • Sewing machine or needle
  • A thread of the required color
  • Straight pins
  • Pair of scissors


  1. Before starting, wash and dry the fabric to avoid shrinkage later.
  2. Cut the selvages (margins) of the fabric to remove the bound edge and make them even.
  3. Roll the four edges one by one and sew a rolled hemstitch on all of them using a sewing machine.
  4. In case you do not have a sewing machine, double fold about 1/4th of the edge, then secure it using straight pins and hand sew along the perimeter.

Ideas For Repurposing Receiving Blankets

Babies will outgrow their receiving blankets, but they can be reused. Of course, since receiving blankets are a baby’s first clothing, many parents would wish to keep them.

The following are some wonderful ideas for repurposing receiving blankets.

  1. Quilt: All your baby’s receiving blankets can be stitched together to make a beautiful quilt big enough to fit your child’s bed.
  1. Furniture covers: Receiving blankets can serve as an excellent makeshift furniture cover. It will protect your furniture from accidental spills when your baby is older and more active.
  1. Picnic mat: Receiving blankets are made of soft fabric and can withstand heavy washing in the machine. They make an ideal picnic mat when going on a picnic with your older children. You may also stitch a vinyl tablecloth to the back of a receiving blanket to make it thicker and sturdier.
  1. Pillows: Multiple receiving blankets can be sewed and stuffed to create pillows of various shapes and sizes. These can be matched to the quilt to create a beautiful matching bedcover and pillow set.
  1. Baby doll blankets: You can use an old receiving blanket to tuck in and cover your child’s dolls. You could also use the blanket to create different clothes and accessories for dolls and other toys.
  1. Room decoration: Create wall hangings and decorative items made up of old receiving blankets and place them in your child’s room or living room. Retaining receiving blankets as decorative pieces can recall warm memories.

The relatively inexpensive and multipurpose receiving blankets are your baby’s closest companions during the first 12 months. They continue to be useful in different ways for many more years after that. Therefore, don’t forget to include a receiving blanket in your to-buy list and use it to create wonderful memories with your little one.


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. Swaddling: Is it Safe?; American Academy of Pediatrics
2. Infant Nutrition and Feeding; USDA
3. How to Keep Your Sleeping Baby Safe: AAP Policy Explained; American Academy of Pediatrics
4. Important Milestones: Your Baby By Four Months; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Wendy L. Sellers

(RN, MA)
Wendy Sellers is a sexuality educator and registered nurse. The founder and president of Health 4 Hire, she provides a variety of consulting services as well as trains educators on how to teach sex education. She presented scores of sessions on effective sex education at state and national conferences and won accolades for her contributions to the fields of sex... more

Rohit Garoo

Rohit Garoo is a zoologist-botanist turned writer with over 8 years of experience in content writing, content marketing, and copywriting. He has also done an MBA in marketing and human resources and worked in the domains of market research and e-commerce. Rohit writes topics related to health, wellness and development of babies. His articles featured on several notable websites, including... more