Since the beginning of time, baby blankets have been made out of every material known to man-from mosses and leaves to buckskins and furs. It's a natural instinct in all of us animals to want to protect our babies and keep them warm.
There are many types of baby blankets in use today. These include receiving blankets, crib blankets, and security blankets. The receiving or "swaddling" blanket is the first covering a newborn baby will have. This blanket is usually made of soft, lightweight, cotton flannel which is easy to wrap tightly around the baby. Swaddling gives the newborn the snug, secure feeling of the womb. Evidence suggests that swaddling may help reduce the symptoms of colic. Researchers believe that swaddling may also lessen the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), because it prevents babies from rolling onto their stomachs. With what we now know of SIDS, it is safer for young babies to sleep on their backs rather than on their tummies. Years ago we were told that sleeping on the tummy would give the baby a sense of security and make it easier for him to get rid of gases which can cause colic or upset stomach. It is important for babies to feel just as snug and secure on their backs as they would on their tummies. We can do this by placing the baby's hands in a natural position over the chest and securely wrapping him in a cloth wrap. Swaddling helps keep the baby from fidgeting and jerking as they settle and sleep. Once the infant is asleep his startle reflex is less likely to awaken him between sleep cycles. This makes a longer, more settled sleep for the baby and therefore helps mom and dad sleep better, too.
Baby security blankets come in many sizes, colors, weights, and textures. The term "security blanket" gained in popularity when Charles M. Schulz put the character "Linus" in his Peanuts cartoon strip. As you probably know, Linus drags his trusty blanket around with him wherever he goes. Linus isn't a baby, but a little boy who feels comfortable with his blankee. A newborn usually can't tell one blanket from another as long as it's soft. These items provide comfort at nap time or bedtime and make it much easier for the child to sleep contentedly. When travelling and sleeping in strange places, the familiar smell and feel of these security items helps the baby rest comfortably.