What Would A Child’s Blanket Be Called In Ancient Rome

Long before modern day Rome, there was Ancient Rome. A highly influential perhaps the most influential ancient civilisation, Rome is cherished for its warm, passionate culture as well as its influence in modern life. The Romans were a highly creative people, devising innovations in architecture, engineering, literature, art, language, and more. One of these advancements was that of the Roman bedding: a collection of blankets and other swaddlers specifically designed for infants, toddlers, and other small children.

In Ancient Rome, these bedding items were affectionately referred to as “vittae,” a Latin term meaning “soft.” Vittae was made of several soft materials, such as wool or linen fabrics. The blankets, in particular, usually had a lined hem, a generous amount of padding, as well as decorative embellishments like fringe.

Although the design of vittae changed slightly during different periods, the underlying concept of using softer, more comfortable materials to swaddle a baby never changed. Roman parents would carefully select a wrapping fabric that would bring their baby the utmost comfort and be lightweight enough to not hinder the baby’s mobility. The blankets were (and still are) especially important for keeping children warm during the cold winter months.

In addition to the blankets, Roman children would also be wrapped in special linen sheets, as well as shawls made of silk, linen, and cotton. These sheets and shawls were generally larger than traditional baby blankets, making them ideal for swaddling a newborn.

For modern parents, understanding the concept of vittae can be beneficial in raising their own children. In the winter, it is important to keep a baby or toddler warm and snug, allowing them to sleep more comfortably. Studies have shown that warm and comfortable bedding is the key ingredient to achieving a successful sleep, so parents should consider investing in blankets designed specifically for babies and small children.

Moreover, parents should remember that the fabric of a baby blanket is just as important as its warmth. Natural fibers such as cotton, wool, and linen are preferred, since they are breathable and hypoallergenic. Babies and toddlers will also benefit greatly from the aesthetic qualities of a linen blanket or wool shawl, as the color, texture, and design of a blanket can bring them a sense of comfort and security.

Historical Significance

In Ancient Rome, swaddling was a highly valued practice. As mentioned previously, vittae was made from some of the finest materials, such as silk and soft wool. Linen was also used, but it was considered less luxurious. Irrespective of material, these blankets were an important element of raising a newborn and promoting emotional well-being.

It is believed that Ancient Roman parents created the concept of vittae as a way of displaying their wealth and status. In many households, families did not have much space, and as a result, swaddling was a way of conserving and presenting a baby’s bedding. By swaddling their children, parents were proud to exhibit their expense and commitment to their children.

Vittae was also a symbol of good fortune. To the Ancient Romans, swaddling was a ritual that brought good fortune for newborns, as well as a way to promote strong emotional bonds between parents and children. The warmth and comfort of a blanket was thought to protect the baby from any harm, as well as sow the ‘seeds of strength’ in a new life.

Modern Variations

Today, the concept of vittae is still alive and well. The modern day versions of swaddling blankets tend to feature a variety of colors, patterns, and textures, ranging from those that are soft and soothing to those that are bright and bold. Furthermore, modern manufacturers have added the warmth and comfort of natural materials to their blankets, making this type of bedding suitable even for cold winter days.

In addition to using a classic swaddle, some parents have opted for a more contemporary variation known as the “wrap,” which is a lightweight fabric or sheet that is designed to be wrapped snugly around a baby to keep them warm and secure.

Moreover, some parents are forgoing the traditional swaddling blankets altogether and are instead swaddling their babies in muslin fabric. This breathable fabric is highly absorbent and lightweight, making it perfect for year-round swaddling.

Current Trends in Swaddling

As with any fashional trend, baby blankets have changed over the years. Currently, the trendiest colors for swaddling blankets are pinks, blues, and greens. Additionally, designs such as florals, animal prints, geometric patterns, and stripes are all popular options. Of course, there are also classical options such as plaids, solid colors, and checkered fabric.

For the more luxurious baby blankets, colors like white, gold, and silver are all popular options. Embellishments such as lace, ribbons, and sequins are also making a big splash, making the blankets even more attractive and eye-catching.

Of course, parents should also keep in mind the environmental impact of choosing a bedding set for their baby. Natural materials such as cotton, wool, and hemp are more environmentally friendly than their synthetic counterparts, as they are sourced from sustainable crops and are biodegradable.

Why Swaddling is Important

At the end of the day, swaddling is all about comfort and security for babies and, by extension, for parents. Studies have shown that babies and toddlers who are swaddled feel more secure and confident, and this can help them sleep better. Swaddling also helps maintain the baby’s body temperature, promoting even warmer and more restful sleep.

Another reason parents should consider swaddling is that it can help to prevent the baby from startle reflexes or the moro reflex, which can lead to the baby jerking his or her arms unexpectedly and potentially startling itself in the process.

Moreover, swaddling can be an excellent calming technique if the baby is colicky or has an upset stomach. For babies who have trouble settling, a light blanket can provide the comforting pressure that they need to calm down and relax.


In Ancient Rome, the vittae was an important item of bedding for babies and toddlers. This name has been kept alive today with modern baby blankets and swaddlers, which come in a variety of colors and designs. Not only is swaddling beneficial for a baby’s physical comfort, but it can also promote emotional security and well-being. Therefore, parents should consider investing in blankets and swaddlers that are specifically designed for children, as these are the most effective for keeping babies warm and comfortable.

Moshe Rideout is a professional writer and historian whose work focuses on the history of Ancient Rome. Moshe is passionate about understanding the complexity of the Roman Empire, from its architecture to its literature, political systems to social structures. He has a Bachelor's degree in classic studies from Rutgers University and is currently pursuing a PhD in classical archaeology at UMass Amherst. When he isn't researching or writing, he enjoys exploring ruins around Europe, drawing inspiration from his travels.

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