The short answer to this question is they are the same. A receiving blanket is a swaddle blanket and the nurses use it to swaddle the babies once the baby enters the world. Below is picture of a newborn swaddled in a hospital blanket as he is introduced to the mom.
A newborn swaddle in a blanket
Receiving blankets are used to keep the baby warm because room temperature (75 degrees Fahrenheit) is still much cooler than the body temperature of the mom’s womb (95 degrees Fahrenheit). Traditionally, receiving blankets are thick square shaped fabrics and these qualities makes it great for keeping babies warm in the early months. Swaddling blankets comes in more varieties of shapes, thickness, fabrics, and forms because babies and moms have different preferences on what makes a good comfortable wrap.
The most standard swaddle blankets are square shaped and are made with various fabrics that are big enough to cover the baby. Aden and Anais makes one of the bigger blankets available on the market that is 47” x 47”. The larger the blanket the better as the babies grow extremely fast and will be too big for the blanket in no time. Then, there are the fancy swaddle sacks that combine the functionality of a baby sleeping bag with swaddling wings. The babies are placed in the sack while the wings wrap around the newborn to keep them secure like a straightjacket (but in a very comfortable way). These swaddle sacks are easy to use and are great for parents who are not comfortable with swaddling newborns in the traditional square blankets. Halo sleepsacks and SwaddleMe are some makers of this variety and they both offer multiple sizes so your newborn can fit perfectly in the sack. Also, when you want to wean the baby off swaddling, these sleeping sacks serve as a great transition because you have leave them in the sleep bag and not use the swaddle wings. Lastly, the swaddle pods or pouches are just like sleeping bags. These pods are made of elastic fabrics that will stretch and compress against the babies’ body when they are in the pod. The fabric compression against the arms, hands, chest, and body creates the womb like experience for the baby. SwaddlePod is a maker of this variety of swaddle blanket and is swaddle method is the easiest to use because all you need to do is zip up the bag.
A receiving blanket is a swaddle blanket and the right blanket will be the most comfortable blanket for the baby. Parents should continue to swaddling because a tight blanket wrap around the baby will help soothe, calm, and improve the comfort level because the tightness reminds them of their wonderful time they spend in the mom’s womb.