There is no magic number for all parents because the need for each baby and family will vary. Instead, parents need to ask themselves these simple questions to better gauge how many blankets they need.
- How many newborn(s) am I caring for?
- How often do I do the laundry for baby items?
- How often does the baby throw-up or spit out food?
- How often does the baby soil blankets during diaper change or sleep?
It is okay if you do not have the answer to some of the questions (specifically 3&4) above. Once the baby comes and you will have a better idea on the answers to question 3 & 4, then you can purchase more or stay pat with the swaddling blankets you have. If you know how many times you do laundry (recommended once per day) then you can start getting a rough idea on the minimum amount of swaddle blankets you might need.
For 1 newborn, the minimum amount of swaddle blankets should be 4, if you do laundry once per day. I personally had 12 because I like having extras around and my laundry time was very sporadic. The logic for 4 swaddle blankets goes by the amount of time babies are feed per day. Doctors recommend feeding newborns every 2-3 hours and if you break-down to every 3 hours that leads to 8 feedings per day. Each feeding will not result in a dirty or soil swaddle blanket, but there are plenty of ways for the swaddle blanket to get dirty (ie. Baby spits out food, diaper leakage, soil blankets, etc).
Non-traditional swaddle blankets, that are more like sleeping bags from SwaddleMe or Halo Sleepsack, are great for bigger babies because they have Velcro to secure babies in a swaddle. As newborns get older (1 month +) or bigger, parents could transition into these swaddle blankets. These blankets are more expensive and I would recommend a minimum of 2 and rotate the use of them only when one needs to be wash. In this way you will always have one clean swaddle blanket available for your newborn.
Overall, new parents should have 4 traditional swaddle blankets on hand before the baby arrives and order more blankets or sleeping bags as needed when you are more familiar with your baby’s need. Babies will grow and get too big for their swaddle blanket faster than you know it. But parents could use extra swaddle blankets in other useful ways, like a burping cloth, shade cover, and changing sheet.
Swaddling must be stop when it starts to pose a danger for the newborn. Additionally, parents should consider stopping when their newborn is longer comfortable being swaddle. But, moms and dads should keep up with swaddling their newborn as long as possible because the routine of swaddling has so many benefits like teaching newborns to nap longer and remain calmer.
As newborns grow, the potential risk of danger and discomfort of swaddling will rise. Around 3 months, parents should begin to wean their infant off swaddling because most infant are getting too big to be completely swaddle by traditional size swaddle wraps. Partial swaddling is unsuccessful and ultimately a safety risk because baggy swaddle blankets can lead to asphyxiation when it hinders the little one air passage ways. There are alternative swaddle blankets, like swaddle sacks from Halo or SwaddleMe that works great for bigger babies and are able to securely keep infants swaddle in a safe manner.
Additionally, newborns will get stronger and will find it simple to free themselves from their swaddle blanket over time. It starts with the hands moving away from the side to the chest and then out of the swaddling blanket. Newborns that move a lot will be more uncomfortable and wake up more during their sleep time. A solution is to double swaddle the newborn for a tighter and more secure swaddle. If that doesn’t work, then using swaddling sacks will hold newborns in a tight burrito because they have tighter restraints with zippers and Velcro systems. Otherwise, parents need to stop swaddling immediately and use sleeping bags as a blanket cover to keep their babies warm.
Stop swaddling if your newborn is able to roll to their sides. This is another safety danger because newborns that can roll might not be able to roll themselves back into the safe supine sleeping position. Accidental rolling and suffocation is possible and once your baby show signs of rolling, parents need to take the next step to wean the newborn off swaddling. A non-swaddle baby will have their arms and legs to help them maneuver out of risky sleeping positions.
When infants are not swaddle, parents need to pay attention to their body temperature (normal 97 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit) as they no longer have an extra layer of protection. One solution is to keep room temperature at a comfortable level (75 degrees Fahrenheit) and babies will be comfortably snug. The use of the swaddle sack or sleeping bag can also be a great way to keep the newborns warm instead of swaddling.
Overall, parents should look at the 3 month time point as the typical time when swaddling could stop. This time frame will vary from baby to baby as safety concerns could lead parents to stop swaddling earlier.