Baby swaddling blankets are probably the most useful item a new mother can have. There was nothing that could calm my sons down like being wrapped almost-too-tight and swayed back and forth while I hissed in their ears like a deranged woman.
Yes, I am a huge fan of Harvey Karp’s The “Happiest Baby” method. What it boils down to is this: when baby is inside your tummy it is cramped (swaddle) and usually upside down/sideways (side/stomach). It is LOUD inside your tummy – like a hoover that is on 24/7 (shush). Baby jiggles around as you walk (swing). And sucking, as we all know, calms babies down, whether it be boob, thumb or dummy (suck).
So the very first thing I put into my hospital bag was a swaddling blanket.
I couldn’t afford to buy the Aiden and Anais swaddling blankets, although I love LOVE (LOVE!) them, so I decided to dye my own.
I was really pleased with how they came out and would like to share the how-to (and the how-not-to) with you.
It is silly how a small thing like this can stick in your mind, but when I think of Xander as a baby, I picture him wrapped up in this blue swaddling blanket, or hiding beneath it for a feed.
How to Dye your Swaddling Blankets
Using Procion MX Dye and a Front-loading Washing Machine
Lol, I know little Xander looks like he’s face diving, but he was actually lifting his head in this photo. Unfortunately it was the only photo that showed how bright the blanket really came out.
Of course you can make your own swaddling blankets. This tutorial by DanaMADEit is an excellent guide to making baby swaddling blankets yourself.
But if you are anything like me at 8 months pregnant, you would much rather chew off your arm than sit in front of a sewing machine (with 2 little ones under foot!). If this is you, don’t worry about it. Just buy a multi-pack of plain white swaddling blankets and use them instead. I did!
Make very sure you wash the blankets thoroughly before dyeing, otherwise your blankets might come out splotchy like this one below. I had been using this particular blanket before I dyed it and I eye-balled it before chucking it into the washing machine with the dye. It looked clean. It wasn’t :(
I used Procion MX as I prefer it to Dylon (it has a much larger colour-range and comes out better in my opinion), so my instructions will reflect that. Use any colour your heart desires.
Make the swaddling blankets an extension of your personality and choose a colour that will cheer you up when you look at it.
The Washing Machine
I also prefer to dye my swaddling blankets/baby clothes in the washing-machine – which is a front-loader in my case. The process is very much the same for a top-loader, though, and if you really want to hand-dye, you can find all the instructions for doing so here on the Jacquard (Procion) site.
Once you’ve got all your supplies, set the washing machine to the smallest load appropriate for your amount of blankets and the hottest setting available. Don’t use a short cycle. Use the longest one you have. You want your blankets to agitate for at least 40 minutes (not including rinse and spin).
In separate containers:
- Dissolve 1 tbsp of the Procion dye in a cup of hot water (this amount will give you a medium shade. Half it for a lighter shade, double it for a darker shade).
- Dissolve the 2 cups of Soda Ash in 2 litres (1/2 gallon) of hot water.
- Dissolve the 6 cups of Non-Iodized Salt in 2 litres (1/2 gallon) of hot water.
Chuck all 3 of the above into the washing machine, followed by your blankets. In the instructions for the Procion dye, they suggest that you wet the items (blankets) before throwing them into the machine. I don’t know why, but I suggest you do so in case the world falls apart if you don’t.
Now Switch on your machine and go and have a cup of tea.
When the cycle is done (so washed, rinsed and spun), run through another cycle. Don’t use any detergents or softeners.
Once the second water-only cycle is done, add detergent and softener and wash the blankets one more time.
When THAT’s done, take them out and admire your handiwork! And while you are busy oohing and aahing, put the washing machine on a cleaning cycle and let it do it’s business.
Dyeing Baby Clothes
It seems like such a waste to just do one or two items, so I have always chucked a few plain white onesies (baby grows) and plain muslins into the dye wash. I have had great success with this.
One thing I should just point out is that the stitching on baby clothes is more often than not synthetic. This means that it won’t absorb the dye. So if you are intending to dye a pink onesie blue, you should remember that you might end up with a blue onesie with pink stitching. Buttons and snaps also won’t absorb dye.
And that is all I have to say about that.
Have fun playing with colours!