Swaddling is the traditional practice of wrapping a baby up tightly in a light, breathable blanket to help them feel snug, secure and calm, mimicking what they felt in the womb.
It’s a practice that’s been around for centuries, and that moms today work hard to perfect to help calm and soothe their infants and to get them to sleep longer.
In this article we want to discover the benefits of swaddling and how to swaddle your baby safely…
Benefits of swaddling
When your baby is swaddled, he/she feels snug and secure like they did in the womb. This feeling also mimics the soft pressure of a mother’s touch and helps your baby sleep longer with fewer disturbances.
Swaddled babies usually fall asleep faster and stay asleep more consistently.
Other benefits of swaddling include:
- Swaddled babies experience less anxiety
- It prevents unnecessary wake ups due to the startle reflex
- It prevents them from scratching their face
- It helps maintain the back-sleeping position
- It helps alleviate colic by applying light pressure to the baby’s belly. This pressure and cocoon-like feeling provides relief for your baby.
- A high-quality breathable swaddle blanket will help them regulated their body temperature, so they won’t get too hot or too cold
- It helps a baby sleeps longer through the night. Here are some other tips to help your baby sleep all night.
How to Swaddle a Baby
As a first time or new mom, you are probably wondering how to swaddle a baby. Perfecting the baby swaddle happens with practice and over time, so don’t be discouraged the first couple of times when your baby breaks out of it and you have to start over.
Here are 6 safety tips and step-by-step instructions on how to swaddle your baby…
- Find a thin, breathable swaddling blanket (cotton muslin or a specialized baby swaddle). These blankets make the swaddling process easier, safer and are most convenient for keeping in your diaper caddy or diaper bag.
- Spread the blanket out on a flat surface in the shape of a diamond with one corner pointing up. Fold the top corner down about six inches.
- Place the baby face up. His/her head should sit above the folded edge of the blanket and body extended straight down to the bottom corner.
- Straighten the baby’s left arm and take the left side of the blanket and wrap it over their arm and chest. Gently lift the baby and tuck it tightly underneath their right arm and back. The left arm should be covered and right arm free.
- Bring the bottom of the blanket up over your baby’s body and tuck it under the first fold under their chin. Straighten the baby’s right arm and pull the right side of blanket over your baby’s body and tuck it under their left side.
- Secure the blanket by loosely twisting the bottom of the blanket and tucking it underneath your baby.
Remember to wrap your baby firmly but gently (not too tight). You don’t want to stop your baby’s hips and knees from moving freely because that can lead to hip dysplasia. Check this by making sure their hips and knees can freely kick and fall into a natural position (like frog legs). Always put a swaddled baby to sleep on their back. Never on their side or stomach.
Safety Tips to Remember When Swaddling
When it comes to swaddling safety, just remember less is more. Today’s swaddle blankets are made to breathe, but don’t double up in fear of your baby getting too cold. Just use one breathable blanket so the baby doesn’t overheat. Make sure it won’t unravel and become loose enough to cover up your baby’s airway during the night.
Babies need time to move their bodies, so even if your baby likes to sleep most of the day, be sure they aren’t swaddled all day. Make time for tummy time and play time.
And last but not least, when your baby begins to roll, this is a good time to discontinue swaddling. An easy transition is an arms-free sleep sack that still helps them feel snug, but keeps keeps their arms mobile. If you do this after you’ve transitioned to the crib, be sure there are no bumpers, blankets, toys or other items in the crib that can be suffocation hazards.
Every baby is different, but it is common for some newborns to resist the swaddle and even put up a little fight in the beginning, however most quickly learn to accept and love the feelings of peace and security the swaddle provides.