After giving birth to both my son and my daughter, I left the hospital with a variety of items that I didn’t arrive with, and one of those was their receiving blanket. The pink and blue fabric has become synonymous with “newborn,” because nearly every person who births a baby in the United States gets to keep the flannel blanket that was wrapped around their little baby shortly after entering the world. I saved both of my children’s blankets, along with their first hat, pacifier, and a variety of other little odds and ends, which live in a small box in my closet.
Because really, what else are you going to do with them, other than given them to your kids later on in life as nostalgic memorabilia?
Recently a mother in one of my Facebook mom groups shared a photo of an adorable receiving blanket toy that she had made; it was so amazing that the image of the stuffed bunny with her son’s name and birthday monogrammed across the front got 1.2k likes.
I went over to Etsy and discovered that receiving blanket toys were really a thing, finding a few different artisans who make the totally adorable memorabilia, including Philadelphia-based store owner Karen Heenan.
“I’m that annoying person who always asks ‘are you going to recycle that?’ Heenan, a lifelong crafter who ditched her office job to start her dream business four years ago, tells Babble. She relies almost entirely on repurposed fabrics for her homemade business, which is why she loves making these receiving blanket animals.
Here’s how it works: Once you have purchased your animal for $54.99, you are provided with a shipping address to send your blanket. She will notify you when it arrives, and your completed toy will be returned to you within two weeks. The bear (or bunny) will measure 14″ high (standing) and 11″ high (seated). Your supplied blanket will be used for the bear. Unless you request otherwise, your bear will have black and white safety eyes, which are safe for babies and small children. The bear will be stuffed with new polyfill stuffing — very soft and lightweight, perfect for cuddling. The baby’s name and birth date are hand-embroidered on the legs at no extra charge. If you have another animal in mind, Heenan takes custom orders as well.
In addition to swaddle blanket animals, she also makes memory bears, which are constructed out of clothing items from a lost loved one; military bears, to salute the fallen, honor service, or simply comfort a child whose parent is deployed, made out of their uniform fabric or camouflage; and other items, like Christmas stockings, made out of children’s clothes.
For a gift, Heenan suggests either purchasing an Etsy gift card and giving the recipient a link to her site as well as a printout of the animal, or by contacting her directly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org so she can take your credit card information that way or over the telephone.
With all the super-cute clothes, toys, and baby items on the market, choosing creative gifts for friends and family who are expecting can be difficult. Luckily, I have a new go-to gift item!More On