Swaddling your baby can be the key to a good night’s sleep, so finding the best baby swaddles is a must. We’ve looked at the key points about swaddling, the best ways to swaddle up, and some of the best swaddle blankets available right now.
What Is Swaddling
According to archaeological finds in Cyprus and Crete, swaddling is an ancient practice, possibly over 4000 years old. It involves wrapping a baby tight enough that their arms can’t flail and wake them up. This is popular in younger babies because of something called the Moro reflex.
The Moro reflex, or startle reflex, involves a baby suddenly jerking their arms or legs, often in a kind of starfish shape. Triggers for the Moro reflex include:
- You moving them
- Their own movements
Your baby is a learning machine, and everything is stimulating to them. This reflex is an indicator that they are taking in all that stimulus. However, it can wake them up, which can become problematic.
Benefits of Swaddling
Benefits for baby:
- Better sleep
- Snug feeling which replicates being in the womb
- Warmth without loose blankets
- Can help position them for feeding
Benefits for parents:
- Better sleep for baby means better sleep for you
- Baby is easier to pick up and place in the crib
- Can encourage a sleep routine early in some babies
How to Swaddle a Baby: Step by Step
Swaddling your baby will be slightly different depending on what type of swaddling blanket you choose. To swaddle the baby in a basic square or rectangular blanket, follow these steps:
- Make sure it’s time to sleep – swaddling should be a sleeping cue and not used other than at nap time or bedtime.
- Lay the blanket out flat in a diamond shape.
- Turn down the top point of the diamond about 6 inches to make the top edge flat.
- Place the baby on the blanket, with the neck just above this flat edge.
- Soothing sounds or a lullaby might help to calm an overexcited baby at this point.
- Gently move one of the baby’s arms down to their sides and pull one point of the blanket across their body.
- Hold gently in place, then pull the bottom point of the blanket up over their legs, ensuring the baby still has room to wriggle hips and legs if needed.
- Pull the opposite side of the blanket over the other arm and tuck under your baby.
- Voila! You now have a baby burrito!
- You can pick your baby up, keeping the last part of the blanket you tucked under gently to prevent arms from escaping.
How to Swaddle a Baby: Dos and Don’ts
You should never, ever swaddle a baby, then place them to sleep on their side or tummy. Swaddled babies need to be on their backs at all times to minimize the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Swaddling should gently snuggle the baby’s limbs, so they can’t jerk and wake themselves up. The swaddle should not be so tight that it pinches or rubs the skin or forces the limbs into unusual positions. The baby’s limbs should still be relaxed within the baby swaddle, simply snug and safe. This is especially important for the hips, which can be negatively affected by too-tight swaddling.
Swaddling a baby shouldn’t be combined with other loose blankets or bedding. A baby with their limbs restrained in a swaddle blanket can’t push a stray sheet from off their face, making loose blankets dangerous. If you are concerned that your baby is cold, consider warmer pajamas or slightly thicker swaddle blankets.
On that note, swaddling your baby in multiple layers is not recommended. Your baby may overheat and become unwell.
You may also want to wait until breastfeeding is fully established before deciding to swaddle. Skin to skin contact is a crucial component of successful breastfeeding, and if you’re spending all your time when the baby is first born practicing swaddling, you could be missing out on this.
Once your baby can roll, it’s time to say goodbye to the baby swaddle. Babies who can flip onto their sides or tummy might not be able to flip back, making a swaddle blanket unsafe. Look for signs of rolling between 2 and 4 months, and remember, every baby is different. For more advice on swaddling safety, speak to a pediatrician or other qualified medical professional.
How to Swaddle a Baby: Types of Swaddle Blankets
The Basic Blanket Swaddle
Learning how to swaddle a baby with a blanket can be tricky at first. Once you’ve got one arm tucked away, pop! There goes the other one waving around. Our steps above should also help but also look for soft, breathable fabrics with just a little bit of stretch and flexibility to allow the baby’s limbs to have some movement without breaking completely free.
Solly Swaddle Blankets are stretchy, breathable, and oh so soft.
Velcro Swaddling Blankets
A popular type of swaddle blanket mimics the blanket swaddle but with added Velcro patches near the arms to help keep them snug and secure.
We love the CuddleBug Swaddle for how easy it is to use and the great value.
A swaddling sack usually has Velcro to keep the arms secure, but the bottom is just like a sleeping bag, leaving the legs free to roam, which can be healthier for the hips.
Check out the Halo SleepSack, which can be used arms in or out, for added flexibility.
Swaddle Blankets That Grow With Your Baby
Some swaddle blankets are designed so innovatively that you only ever need one. Ollie World Swaddles keep the arms tucked away, allow the hips to move, and are completely adjustable, so even if your baby has growth spurt after growth spurt, you can use this baby swaddle until your baby starts rolling and flipping. Plus, the baby swaddle wicks moisture away, keeping the baby cool and comfortable.
Now you know how to safely swaddle your baby; all you have to do is decide which baby swaddle blanket is best for you and your little one!
Swaddling a baby is proven to help them sleep and mimics the environment of the womb. The best swaddle blankets allow the hips freedom while gently restraining the arms to prevent the baby from waking themselves.