How to Swaddle a Baby: A Comprehensive Guide
Now, swaddling is commonplace. There are so many products and methods that purport to be the best that it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. That's why we've put together this complete guide on how to swaddle a baby. In this guide, We discuss the benefits of swaddling. We'll walk you through how to swaddle a baby, the best way to swaddle, and show you why our swaddles are the ideal choice for wrapping up your little one. We'll also discuss essential tips to keep your baby safe.
How to Swaddle a Baby
There are two basic swaddling methods. Try both and see which one you prefer.
Spread out a lightweight, breathable blanket at least 40" square with the points oriented like the points of a compass (up, down and to either side). Fold the top corner down, towards yourself. Make a larger fold to reduce the blanket size for a small baby's body, and make a smaller fold for a larger baby. The resulting shape should look like the outline of the Superman logo, with a flat top and points to either side and to the bottom.
Lay the baby's face up so that her head rests above the folded corner, keeping her shoulders roughly even with the fold. This ensures that the swaddling blanket won't cover her face when you're done wrapping.
Gently hold down the baby's right arm. Then grab the point of the blanket next to that arm, bring it across the baby's chest, and tuck it around the torso, underneath the other armpit.
Fold the bottom of the blanket up over the baby's legs and feet. If you have enough length, you can tuck it into the top by the baby's neck. If not, just lay it over their chest. Leave enough room for her tiny legs to kick a little bit.
Next, gently hold down the baby's other arm. Bring the remaining side of the swaddle across the baby, leaving only the head and neck exposed. The blanket should be big enough to go all the way around the baby's back, so you can tuck it into itself at the front. If it doesn't go all the way around, you can tuck it into the top of the swaddle at the baby's back.
All done! Your baby can now feel safe and warm and is ready to sleep.
This method is just like the first, except you fold both sides over the arms before folding the bottom point up. After you've secured the sides, fold up the bottom flap and tuck it in at the baby's neck. This method can allow for diaper changes without fully unswaddling the upper body.
What are the benefits of swaddling?
Many new parents who try swaddling for the first time are amazed at the instant calming effect it can have on a fussy newborn. But if you think about it, it's not that surprising.
Babies spend 40 weeks in the dark, warm, cozy confines of the womb. They're used to being penned in, especially in the weeks immediately preceding birth. When they're born, it's a whole new world of shifting temperatures, lights, and sounds, and it can be overwhelming. Swaddling your baby in a soft fabric like our viscose from bamboo provides a more natural transition from womb to world.
And as any bleary-eyed parent who needs sleep and has ever Googled "how to soothe a colicky baby" at 3 a.m. will tell you, swaddling tops the list of suggestions to calm a crying baby. The combination of warmth from the blanket, the familiar cozy feeling, and the subtle pressure on the baby's body can have a soothing effect.
Limits startle reflex
While they're adjusting to life outside the womb, babies also exhibit an involuntary startle response, known as the "Moro reflex," or the "startle reflex." When the reflex kicks in, a baby's hands and baby's legs may fly up and he may arch his back and start to cry. Young babies can startle while they're asleep, which wakes them and you. But swaddling has been shown to limit the startle reflex in a baby's body because it restricts the movement of the arms and legs. This means better sleep for everyone.
There's nothing cuter than tiny baby hands, but those hands are often born with sharp little fingernails that can grow very quickly. As a result, babies are susceptible to scratching themselves, particularly on their faces, because that's often the only area that's not covered by clothing. Swaddling keeps their hands at their sides, so they can't scratch themselves. Another option is to use baby mittens, but those have a tendency of falling off and getting lost.
Safe sleep and better nights
Research-based evidence shows that swaddled babies sleep longer than babies who are not swaddled. This means that parents sleep longer too. This seems reason enough to learn to swaddle your baby. But first, let's take a look at whether there are any drawbacks to swaddling.
What type of swaddle to use
The best type of swaddle wrap is a simple, large, lightweight blanket made of soft, breathable fabric-our bamboo fabric is an ideal choice. Stretchy fabric isn't necessary but makes it easier to get a secure wrap that won't come undone. Stay away from smaller receiving blankets, like the 30" square flannel ones that are sold in multipacks, because they aren't big enough to wrap securely.
Our swaddle blankets are square and extra-large - at 44" you can be sure your baby won't outgrow the blanket before he outgrows being swaddled. The blanket is made of lightweight, breathable viscose from natural bamboo. It's stretchy, which makes it easy to wrap securely and won't be too big to have a loose blanket. There are so many other uses for our blanket, and you'll be using it long after your baby is too big to swaddle. Use it as a nursing cover, a changing mat, a car seat cover, a stroller blanket, or to keep baby's hands-off grimy grocery store carts.
You can also buy purpose-made swaddles that have hook-and-loop closures, but these aren't as versatile as a large, stretchy blanket.
When not to swaddle
We love swaddling, but there are some instances where it's not the right option.
When you're co-sleeping, the weight of your body on the mattress causes uneven surfaces that a swaddled baby during baby sleep can roll into and risk suffocation. So don't swaddle when co-sleeping.
When baby can roll
It's time to stop swaddling once your baby can roll over, or starts to exhibit signs of readiness, such as being more active during tummy time. And remember, babies who can't roll can still flip over when they're upset or excited. For this reason, don't leave a swaddled baby on an uneven surface that she can easily roll off of.
When an infant doesn't like it
Swaddling is very soothing for many babies, but not all of them like it. If your baby fights the swaddle or is constantly attempting a jailbreak, it may not be for him.
Now that you know how to swaddle a baby, here are a few pro tips to keep in mind.
- Babies should sleep on their backs, swaddled or not, to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
- The Baby's mattress should be firm and fit the crib properly. The crib sheet should fit the mattress tightly. Keep the crib free of stuffed animals, loose blankets, and pillows. This ensures that the baby can't get stuck or tangled in anything.
- Dress the baby lightly under the swaddle. Remember, the swaddle keeps the baby warm. Watch for signs of overheating and unswaddle if you see:
- Flushed cheeks
- Heat rash
- Damp hair
- Rapid breathing
- The swaddle should feel secure but not tight. You should be able to fit 2-3 fingers between the baby's chest and the swaddle.
- Make sure the baby is on a stable, flat surface and that they can't roll off.
What to do when it's time to stop swaddling
Some babies love the swaddle so much that they have trouble transitioning out of it. You can help by weaning your little one from the swaddle incrementally. Start by leaving one arm out of the swaddle. Then, after a few days, try swaddling with both arms out. This helps the baby adjust to the change gradually.
Young babies who have outgrown the swaddle are not ready to transition to blankets due to the risk of suffocation. As an alternative, you can switch to long baby gowns, zippered sleep bags, or footed pajamas in natural, breathable fabrics to safely keep them warm at night.
And of course, if you have questions about your baby's development, consult with your healthcare provider.
Swaddling soothes and comforts babies and helps everyone sleep better. Swaddled babies are also really, really cute. And, armed with the instructions and tips in our guide, you'll be swaddling like a pro in no time as long as you have the right swaddle blanket.
So be sure to check out our range of luxurious blankets perfect for swaddling in both single-layer and lightly weighted, double-layer styles. They make swaddling a breeze, and once your baby is older, they make wonderful blankets for strollers, couch snuggles, picnics, and travel.
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