Miracle Blanket vs. Kiddopotamus Swaddle vs. Halo Sleepsack Swaddle vs. True Womb vs. Swaddle Designs Blanket vs. Aden and Anais Swaddle Blanket
So many swaddle blankets, so little time.... Oh, wait. I have a little baby and lots of generous friends with older babies and generous family members, so I have tried all of these swaddles.
The Miracle Blanket is what I had originally been told was the end all be all for swaddling blankets. We used this for our first, and used it with his arms at his sides. It calmed him down fast. But I had always thought it was a bit cruel, not letting him have any freedom. So we didn't swaddle him for that long. I said this to a friend with an older baby recently, and she said you could also swaddle babies with their arms together (the hands-to-heart position, which gives them their hands to suck on, which is a way they self-soothe). Well, duh. I feel like this swaddle, then, isn't the best for this position. My now 4.5 month old can't use this any more because he always gets out and it ends up a tangled mess around him. I stopped using it around 2.5 months, too, which feels like a really long time ago.
In all fairness, we loved it with our first, and it was the only one we used. It only comes in one size, and has a handy pocket you tuck their legs into, then flaps for their arms, then a long flap to wrap around and around then tuck in at the end. It can get really tight (a bonus). There is a short learning curve for its use. They are made in cotton, which is breathable and light, and not great for EC (misses mean more laundry and needing multiple blankets).
Another friend gave me two of these in a larger than newborn size. They also have a foot pocket and a wrap around the body. They attach with velcro in two places- to bring the bottom up to the top, and to attach the top to the rest of the body and keep the arms in. They are great. I have the cotton ones, but they also come in microfleece (for you EC-ers who want to be let a pee miss go through instead of soak the whole thing). These stay tight and are easy to close and use. The downfall is that they are sized. This actually helps them fit better, but then you need more than one of them for the swaddling period for your baby. These are reasonably priced and totally competent.
These are sleep sacks with wings that act as a swaddle and velcro closed around the baby's arms. They come in cotton or microfleece. These are sized as well. I really like these because they don't hold the hips tightly (there is a bit of worry about too-tight swaddles negatively affecting hip development) yet the feet kick against something. They zip upside down, making diaper changes and EC in the swaddle easy (arms stay put). Another benefit is that you ease out of these into a regular sleep sack, so the transition out should be easier.
The fabric on the True Womb Swaddle is amazing. It is 4-way stretch cotton/ lycra so it is breathable yet allows baby to stretch legs out and pulls them back in like I imagine the womb would. There are two layers of fabric around the leg pocket which makes this even cozier and stretchier. The velcro is also really high quality, and there is a waist belt which easily velcros to the leg pocket and itself, adding another cozy layer around the middle. These are sized as well (and pricey), so you'd need a couple to make it through. They make a regular swaddle with arm pouches, and a weaning swaddle with arms like a t-shirt. I (unfortunately) only discovered these at the "weaning swaddle" size, so never tried the regular swaddle. My guess is that it would be as amazing as the one I have, and I want one if we have another baby. But the weaning swaddle is great, although sometimes I put a Kiddopatamus Swaddle over it to keep his arms tight (we are almost ready to wean away from swaddling, but not quite). The only downfalls of this soft and high quality swaddle are the cost and that it is sized so you'd need more. It also isn't EC-friendly, as any wetness soaks the whole thing, and you can't potty the baby while he is wearing it (that waistband is too loud and has too many steps to take it on and off quickly).
Swaddle Designs makes a large receiving blanket in flannel whose distinction between it and regular receiving blankets is its large size and the diagram tag which shows you how to swaddle the baby. I think it is more gimmicky than useful, although receiving blankets are useful for many things (just not the sleeptime swaddle for us). I couldn't get it tight enough, and baby, even early on, could come out with a kick or twist. There is also the tightness around the hips issue which could easily be exacerbated with these.
Although these are also "just a receiving blanket," they really aren't. These Aden and Anais blankets are made from a thin muslin cotton. This makes them breathable yet absorbent (not good for EC but good for other things). They are large enough to hold a swaddle (plus the fabric holds to itself a bit more than a plain flannel does). Plus a blanket which you can also use for swaddling can also be used for other things like wiping up messes, a burp cloth, a nursing cover, or just wrapping the baby when he is cold or when it is sunny you could cover baby in it or drape it over the car seat and not worry about overheating the little one. I highly recommend these, although I would also use another type of swaddle. So I guess these don't directly fit into my category, but they are too good to skip completely.
OVERALL FAVORITES: Halo Sleepsack Swaddle, True Womb, and Aden and Anais (I think you should get and use all three!)
CLOSE SECOND: Kiddopatamus
SKIP IT: Swaddle Designs, Miracle Blanket
Disclaimer: My brother gave me their Miracle Blanket with our 1st baby and said they loved it beyond anything else and the velcro swaddles wouldn't stay shut. It is interesting that some products work for some babies and others for other babies. Maybe that is why there are SO many!!
don't forget to read this!