How to Swaddle a Baby: A Step-by-Step Guide
Little Yawn Collective - Nov 03, 2021
When you think of a cozy baby, you think of them being wrapped in blankets like a sweet gift. Learning to swaddle your baby is an important first step of being a parent and learning to comfort your baby.
This method of wrapping your baby has been around for generations because it works to help keep your little one happy, secure, and sleep more soundly.
Great news for you as you begin safe sleeping on your newborn’s schedule!
What Is Swaddling and Why Is It Beneficial?
Swaddling is a method of wrapping a baby in a blanket to keep them snug and cozy. This coziness mimics babies’ closeness in the womb and helps them feel warm and secure. You can swaddle when you want your baby to feel warm, soothe them, or as a part of their bedtime routine.
As you probably never take your eyes off your baby’s every movement, you probably know that they can react in certain ways. Babies have a special reflex when they hear a loud noise or sense a movement.
You have seen this reflex in action -- they throw their head back and extend their arms and legs.
Babies can even startle themselves when they cry, and it can happen while they are sleeping, and they can inadvertently wake themselves up with the motion they make.
Swaddling helps prevent this reflex from happening while they are soundly snoozing, so they do not wake themselves up. Can you imagine just getting your little one asleep when you drop your phone on the floor? Everyone would probably cry at this point!
Luckily, swaddling has been passed down from parent to parent as a way to keep the baby snuggled and content. It’s a wonderful thing when parents unite when it comes to effective parenting skills!
How Do I Swaddle My Baby?
First, you’ll want to select a blanket that is breathable, so your baby does not get too hot. Think fabrics like muslin or cotton. Muslin is more breathable than cotton, but cotton is the stronger fabric.
If you have a strapping, energetic baby, you may consider using cotton to keep arms and legs from escaping. Even swaddling blankets have fasteners like velcro or zippers to make sure the swaddle blankets stay safe and secure.
During the warmer months, muslin can help keep your sweet one cool and comfortable.
Swaddle The Right Way
Swaddling blankets, also commonly referred to as receiving blankets, come in various patterns and colors. Next, comes the actual swaddling. In the hospital, you were probably amazed at how perfect the nurses could wrap your little one—a neat, little package with a cute, squishy face peeking out.
We are here to explain the steps of swaddling your little one:
- First, smooth your blanket out and slightly fold down the top corner. Place your sweet one on the folded corner. Align their shoulders with the straight edge of the fold.
- Next, pick up the left or right corner. Bring the blanket across the baby’s body and tuck under them. Make sure you leave the opposite arm free. If your baby is a squirmy worm, you may need to hold your baby in place with one hand.
- Pick up the bottom corner from your baby’s left side over your baby’s feet, and tuck that corner into the part you just wrapped over your baby in a diamond shape form.
- Lastly, pick up the other corner bottom of the blanket and wrap it across your baby’s body. This will cover their free arm. Only their head and neck will be out.
- Presto! Your baby is snug, safe, and ready for snoozing. Just remember to check for any signs of sweating, such as damp hair and rapid breathing.
It is important to mention that you do not want to swaddle your baby too tight. It should be snug, but if your baby cannot move their legs, you will want to loosen the swaddle a little. You’ll want your baby to be able to move their hips freely as well. If the swaddle is too tight, it could cause hip problems later.
Listen To Your Baby’s Reactions
As you will soon find out, your baby may be particular about certain things. Some babies do not like their arms to be swaddled and may be cranky when swaddled in general. If you believe your baby wants their arms to be free, you can wrap the corners under their arms instead.
See which variety your baby responds better to. If your baby is still fussy while swaddling, consider changing the different types of blankets you are using. The blanket could be too thick or not thick enough.
Experiment and see if your baby has a preference in which blanket they like the best.
You may also find that you need to initially fold the blanket down more or less when you first start, so you do not have a large swath of blanket to tuck in over their feet. Maybe your baby likes their arms to be straight by their sides instead of crossed slightly over their bodies.
Practice makes perfect when it comes to swaddling! It may also be helpful to practice on a baby doll before your sweet one arrives. You wouldn’t want to have a practice session with a fussy baby in the middle of the night!
Swaddle and Sleeping
Now that you know the swaddle technique, think about how you can incorporate it into your bedtime routine.
At Little Yawn Collective, we believe that every child has the right to get the healthy sleep they need to thrive. As you establish your bedtime routine during the early months, consider what is safe and what works for you and your baby. A consistent bedtime routine is an essential part of your baby's day.
When putting a swaddled baby down for a nap, make sure they are on their backs in a crib or bassinet, clear of any other items.
Once your baby learns to roll onto their stomachs, it is time to end swaddling. It is so tempting to keep wrapping your baby in a soft cocoon, but as babies move, the blankets can loosen up and turn into a not-so-safe situation.
If your baby is three months or older, and is still being swaddled, consider adding a step in your bedtime routine with our Nourishing Body Lotion with Oat & Shea Butter. Our NaturalSnooze blend fragrance is comforting and helps to build strong sleep associations.
You can massage this lotion into your baby’s skin before swaddling to make them extra cozy, snoozy, and happy.
When to Stop Swaddling
When you see that your baby is in the beginning stages of learning how to roll, you may want to slowly start weaning your baby off of being swaddled. This can occur anywhere from two to four months. Quitting cold turkey may not make your baby particularly happy when they expect their nightly, cozy cocoon.
When your baby is napping and can be monitored closely, start to leave one arm out and then both arms out. At this point, you can start to leave your baby unswaddled as they learn to sleep freely.
Be aware that as your baby transitions to childcare, many facilities will not swaddle due to safety concerns. This is also a good reason to transition from swaddling as your baby grows old enough to go to childcare.
You can also start to utilize clothing specially made for infant sleeping as you transition from swaddling. Sleepsacks do not restrict arms and legs from moving but still keep your baby warm and are preferable over loose blankets, as they cannot kick them off.
You can put these sleep sacks over the baby’s pajamas to keep them warm and cozy but still prevent having loose blankets in the baby’s crib. You can use sleep sacks indefinitely as your child grows older, and most will easily transition to a regular blanket.
That’s a wrap with swaddling! Learning to swaddle helps keep your little buddy safe, warm and will benefit their sleeping routine.
Here at Little Yawn Collective, we are here to make sleep a little easier. Our products are a powerful companion for your bedtime routine as it changes and grows with your little one. From swaddling to big boy and big girl beds, we are here to encourage restful zzz’s.
Make bedtime a Breeze
Discover safe, effective, melatonin-free sleep help for your little one