Receiving blankets: These are typically used for swaddling a baby and/or burp cloths.
Swaddling has received recent media attention as a result of potential safety risks. Risks cited include: potential overheating (overheating is a risk factor for SIDS), potential missed feeding cues as a result of decreased baby arousal, potential risk for hip dysplasia (abnormal hip development) if swaddled tightly with straight legs, lack of opportunity to learn self soothing as a result of preventing access to hand to mouth, as well as decreased opportunity to develop rolling skills. In addition to these potential risks, a 2007 systematic review also cited decreased crying, and longer sleep duration as benefits. In the pre-term population additional benefits include improved neuromuscular development, motor organization and self-regulation, as well as decreased distress.
Based on current literature, it seems the evidence is unclear regarding the whether or not it actually increases the risk of SIDS.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that when done correctly, swaddling can be an effective technique to help calm infants and promote sleep.
The International Hip Dysplasia Institute recommends that legs should be bend when baby is swaddled. This is supported by the Pediatric Orthopedic Society of North America. Take a peek at Hip Healthy Swaddling: American Academy of Pediatrics.
Bottom line: Swaddling is becoming a recommendation that many health professionals are no longer making. The evidence remains unclear. It may be beneficial for some babies but it needs to be properly applied. Ensure that baby does not layers under a swaddling blanket and they are placed on their back to sleep. Ensure you flex their hips.
Back to our original topic – receiving blanket. The number that you will need depends if your baby even likes swaddling or if you have a spitty baby. If you are going to get receiving blankets, 5-8 is a reasonable number to start with (until you know what you are dealing with).
White Noise: Another “nice to haves/unnecessary” item is a white noise machines (commercially called “sleep sheeps”, or you can download an app on your itouch, ipad or iphone). The problem with Sleep Sheeps are the short time duration they run for. They lasts for 45 minutes, or exactly when your baby is entering a lighter sleep stage. It could shut off and end up arousing baby, opposite of what you hoped it would do. Go for something that you can keep on the whole time. White noise is of particular use when you are at the “giving baby the opportunity to learn to sleep on his/her own” stage. Keep in mind that running a fan in the room does the trick too. I would put this in a “necessary” category for second child..… you may to block out the noise of your toddler activities when the youngest is napping.
Night light: It is nice to have a low level light that you can turn on for diaper changes or nursing. Bright light in the middle of the night is shocking for everyone!
Crib bedding: A crib bedding set often comes with a fitted sheet, a flat sheet, a duvet and bumper pads. The most recent evidence suggests that bumpers in a crib pose an increased risk for SIDS, as do duvets or blankets under 12 months of age. You can purchase breathable, mesh bumper pads to prevent rogue legs and arms from getting stuck between the crib slats. These are useful when babies are learning to crawl and getting themselves in all kinds of positions.
I would suggest a waterproof mattress cover for the diaper disaster and vomiting episodes.
A nice to have item is a crib skirt that goes under the mattress and goes to the floor. You can hide all kids of storage boxes under there.