The Best Baby Blankets, From Cotton To Cashmere

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Babies under the age of 1 shouldn’t have a blanket in their cribs or sleep areas, but there are still plenty of reasons to want a blanket for your newborn. They’re great for keeping baby warm during stroller walks outside, spread out on the floor as a soft place to play and snuggling under when it’s time for skin-to-skin cuddles. The best baby blankets are soft, durable and in our opinion, machine washable, like our top pick — the Loulou Lollipop Muslin Quilt Blanket.

“Babies shouldn’t be sleeping with any blankets anywhere during the first 12 months,” says Dr. Wendy Johnson, a pediatrician at Tribeca Pediatrics. If you’re looking for something to keep your baby warm as they sleep, you’ll want to pick a swaddle for infants or a sleep sack for bigger babies who can roll over. If you’re on the hunt for a traditional baby blanket, we’ve found the best options, based on interviews with doctors and parents and plenty of hands-on experience.

Here at Forbes Vetted, our parenting editors and writing take our mission of finding “best for baby” very seriously. We’ve researched and tested hundreds of baby gear items and toys, and as parents ourselves are always looking for items that genuinely make taking care of kids easier. Our staff has shared their firsthand experiences with their favorite products throughout this article. The author of this article, Margaret Badore, has covered health and science topics for over 15 years. She is an experienced product tester and also a mom to a toddler.

We also consult with child health experts, to help inform our product selection and search criteria. For this article, I interviewed Dr. Wendy Johnson, a pediatrician at Tribeca Pediatrics in New York, and Dr. Carolina Pombar, a pediatrician with the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City and assistant professor of pediatrics. Finally, we monitor government websites for safety concerns and recalls and stay up to date with the latest guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

To make this list of the best baby blankets, I first consulted with pediatricians to make sure I understood any safety concerns associated with baby blankets and safe sleep. I researched the kinds of blankets parents want the most (things like cashmere and personalization) to determine what categories to include on this list. I asked a range of new parents — including my colleagues here at Vetted — about the blankets they’ve used and loved the most. When available, I analyzed user reviews, and considered which blankets I liked and used the most with my own son.

When it came to making my final sections, I also looked at materials and care requirements and considered if the baby blankets could serve multiple purposes and grow with the child. All of the blankets on this list are machine washable, except for the cashmere pick from Quince, but it can be washed by hand at home.

When it comes to babies, blankets are for wake windows. When using a blanket either in a stroller or as a play mat, babies 12 months and younger should always be supervised by an adult. Here are some other safety tips to keep in mind.

Both Dr. Pombar and Dr. Johnson emphasized that babies should not sleep with a blanket until after their first birthday. To reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), babies should be put placed on their backs alone in their crib or bassinet, without any “bumpers, blankets, soft mattresses, pillows, pillow-like toys, quilts, comforters, mattress toppers, fur-like materials and loose bedding, such as blankets and non-fitted sheets,” says Dr. Pombar. She adds that it’s also important for the sleep surface to be flat, and not inclined, per the guidelines laid out by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“Dressing the infant with layers of clothing is preferable to blankets and other coverings to keep the infant warm,” says Dr. Pombar.

Never place a blanket under the straps of a car seat or stroller. Blankets and other bulky garments can interfere with a secure fit. If you’re using any sort of seat that uses a harness, it’s always a good idea to strap baby in first, and then if needed, you can place the blanket over the straps, making sure to not cover baby’s face.

If you’re shopping for someone else’s baby, it’s always a good idea to check their baby registry to see if the expecting parents have picked out a special blanket for themselves or if one has already been purchased for them. It’s good to keep in mind that blankets are an especially popular baby gift, and many parents end up with more than they actually need.

That said, here are a few other things to consider when shopping for baby blankets.

Health experts recommend natural fibers, like cotton or wool, for bedding because it breathes well and can help with temperature regulation. “Babies are prone to overheating, so selecting breathable fabrics is essential,” says Dr. Pombar. “Fabrics that allow air circulation help regulate body temperature and prevent excessive sweating. Natural fibers like cotton and bamboo are highly breathable and suitable for babies. Sheepskins and fleeces should be avoided.”

You also want a blanket that’s soft. “Babies have delicate and sensitive skin, so it’s crucial to choose fabrics that are soft and gentle,” says Dr. Pombar. She adds that organic cotton helps minimize the risk of skin irritation or allergic reactions.

Bamboo-based fabrics have become popular recently, thanks to the environmental benefits of this fast-growing crop. However, it’s good to keep in mind that the resulting fabric is functionally the same as a soft rayon, due to the intense manufacturing process required to turn the woody bamboo stems into fabric.

Baby blankets should be easy to wash, because you never know when they’re going to get hit with spit-up or other messes — and no new parent needs the extra work of dry cleaning or hand washing. The best baby blankets can be washed in the laundry machine and tumbled in the dryer.

It’s smart to wash any new blanket with a baby-safe detergent before your child uses it.

There’s no official or standard size for baby blankets, although 30 x 40 inches is one of the most common baby blanket sizes. If you want something that can comfortably cover a baby and their grown-up, or something that fully covers a toddler bed, look for a blanket that’s at least 50 inches long or bigger — like the Little Unicorn Muslin Throw Quilt or Copper Pearl Three-Layer Jumbo Quilt.

Before the age of 1 year, blankets increase the risk of SIDS, says Dr. Wendy Johnson. Wait until after your child’s first birthday before introducing a traditional blanket to their crib. By then, “if there’s anything that they need to move out of the way, they can move it out of the way,” she says. “Unless they have some developmental problems that affect their ability to move around.”

“Something that’s breathable,” says Dr. Johnson. “Natural fabrics are always going to be more breathable than man-made fabrics.” She suggests looking for a cotton linen blend or Merino wool.

Dr. Pombo agrees. “Look for fabrics like cotton, bamboo, or organic blends, which are known for their soft texture.” She says some babies may have sensitive skin or allergies, and fabrics like organic cotton or bamboo are often hypoallergenic and less likely to cause skin issues.

No. Weighted blankets, like other kinds of loose blankets, are unsafe for sleep for babies under the age of 12 months — and the AAP specifically advises against weighted swaddles, because they can be too much pressure on a young child’s chest. But they’re not great for toddlers either.

“I feel like babies should be able to move freely and there’s no reason to force them to be in a position,” Dr. Wendy Johnson says. “They need to be able to move around. Just like a grown-up, if you’re sleeping and you need to reposition yourself to be comfortable, they need that too.”

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