How to Swaddle Your Baby: Your Baby Swaddling Questions Answered!

Baby Swaddling

Swaddling is a great way to soothe your baby, but it must be done properly! The most frequently asked swaddling questions are answered below.

What is swaddling?

Swaddling consists of snugly wrapping an infant in a blanket/cloth for warmth and comfort. It is an ancient practice that is currently used all over the world.

What are the benefits of swaddling?

–  It soothes and calms babies by making them feel cozy and secure. Swaddling recreates the security of the womb.
–  It helps babies fall asleep easier and stay asleep longer by preventing sudden movements and making them feel comfortably warm.
–  It makes breastfeeding easier by keeping the baby’s hands tucked in the blanket so the baby can focus and latch-on.
–  It helps prevent SID. Properly swaddled babies who sleep on their backs are less likely to roll over into their bellies and to get their heads caught in loose blankets.

Do I need to use a specific type of blanket?

Try to use a square blanket – these are easier than rectangle blankets because their symmetry allows for an even and balanced wrap. You can use the fabric of your choice: light flannel, cotton, muslin, etc.  We particularly like muslin because it is light, stretchy and breathable.  Check out the swaddle blankets that we recommend.

How do I properly swaddle my baby?

Swaddling consists of 4 simple steps:

  1. Lay the blanket in a diamond position and fold the top corner down. Place the baby on the center of the blanket with her neck positioned on the top edge.
  2. Gently hold your baby’s right arm down straight at her side. Take the left side of the blanket and bring it across the baby’s chest. Tuck it under her left buttock and lower back to ensure a secure swaddle.
  3. Place your baby’s left arm against her side and bring the bottom corner straight up to cover her arm.
  4. Take the right side of the blanket and bring it across the baby’s chest. Tuck any excess fabric underneath the baby’s body for a secure swaddle.

In the video below a dad shows how to properly swaddle a newborn.  It is a short video and it will help you better understand the above instructions.

Important tips:

–  Snug! A loose blanket can be a suffocation hazard and will not soothe your baby.
–  Make sure your baby’s arms are snugly positioned by her side and under the fabric.
–  Don’t let the blanket touch your baby’s cheek, she may think is it is your breast and it is feeding time

Can swaddling cause hip problems to my baby?

According to the International Hip Dysplasia Institute, your baby’s legs should be able to bend up and out at the hips to allow for natural development of the hip joints. The baby’s legs should not be tightly wrapped straight down and pressed together.

How can I tell if my baby is overheated?

To reduce the risk of overheating your baby, do not cover a swaddled baby’s face or head and avoid using heavy blankets. Check your baby’s ears and fingers.  If they are hot, red, and sweaty, it means she is overwrapped.

How many hours a day should my baby be swaddled?

Newborns can be swaddled 12-20 hours a day (remember, your baby spent 24 hours snuggled in the womb).  As your baby gets older (after one to two months), you can reduce swaddling time based on how calm she stays without being wrapped.

When and how should a baby be weaned from the swaddling?

It varies from baby to baby.  Babies are usually ready to be weaned off by three to four months of age. To see if your baby is ready, swaddle her with one arm out. If she gets fussier, continue swaddling for a few more weeks. If the baby stays happy, she doesn’t need it anymore and you can transition from swaddling by leaving both arms out.  Consider transitioning your baby from a swaddle blanket into a wearable blankets/sleeping bag.  Check out our selection of baby sleeping bags.

The Happiest Baby on the Block

References:

Karp, Harvey, MD. The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying And Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer. New York: Bantam, 2003

Swaddle Book

Moya-Jone, Raegan. Swaddle Love. New York: Damarae, 2009

International Hip Dysplasia Institute Website.  http://www.hipdysplasia.org/developmental-dysplasia-of-the-hip/hip-healthy-swaddling/

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