When buying a baby blanket the first concern is safety. Safety by far trumps aesthetics, since children under a year old should not use certain blankets. However, one can find a safe baby blanket that also is aesthetically pleasing, since there are so many patterns and designs available.
A baby blanket that should always be avoided is the quilt that may come with a set for a crib. There is concern that fluffy quilts have been indicated in sudden infant death syndrome and may actually cause suffocation. This is also a good reason to avoid pillows in baby’s crib.
Since a baby can overheat more quickly than an adult, consider light, natural fiber blankets. A receiving baby blanket is a good beginning choice, and in fact many babies prefer to be swaddled at nighttime. The tightness feels similar to being in the womb. Cotton receiving blankets abound in color, pattern and price, and can usually be found in patterns matching nursery themes.
For a slightly older baby, one can choose a slightly heavier baby blanket, perhaps a cotton woven design. In any choice one should avoid a baby blanket with excess trim, fringe, buttons, or things that might be pulled off and accidentally swallowed. As well, a crib bumper is safer if it is plain and not used after the first year.
Some people prefer to dress the baby in blanket pajamas that will provide warmth without risking the baby being tangled up in the blanket. These can be garments resembling a nightgown with a closed bottom, or they may have feet at the bottom. Consider the weather before dressing a baby in excessively warm clothes.
With a cotton flannel baby blanket, one should wash the blanket 3-4 times before use, as the blanket tends to accrue a great deal of lint during early use. Several washings tend to eliminate most of the lint so that it will not be ingested or potentially irritate baby’s nose. An acrylic baby blanket, conversely, may get fuzzier as it is used, so it may not be the best choice. As well, man made fibers are warmer, which may not provide adequate ventilation in the night.
Woven blankets of either natural or man made fibers should have a tight enough weave that baby cannot get his or her hands stuck in the weave. Consider the crocheted baby blanket for daytime use only. These are suitably decorative, but again may trap small hands or feet in small holes in the pattern.