What to Know About Swaddling a Baby
It seems that every culture and every era has used swaddling. All throughout history, babies have been wrapped, snuggled and swaddled in various forms. That might leave you wondering about something. Do you know how to swaddle a baby? If you do it, are you doing it correctly? In this article, we’ll look at some good reasons you should learn how to swaddle a baby, the best way to do it and some reasons you might want to avoid swaddling.
Swaddling Improves Sleep
The best part about swaddling is that it induces a quiet, dreamy, wonderful sleep. We don’t just mean for the baby. We mean for you.
Babies who are swaddled can sleep supine, that is, on their backs. Your baby will sleep deeply and with fewer awakenings.
Many babies who are swaddled can sleep long hours on their backs. That means more and better sleep for you. You can get a good night’s sleep without worrying that you’ll be awoken several times a night.
Swaddling has become a standard part of baby care because it makes little ones feel cozy and secure. Being swaddled imitates the feeling of being in the womb.
The feeling of being firmly hugged will help your baby relax. Even a fussy baby will quickly start to calm down once he or she is gently and lovingly swaddled.
The best way to get these results is to start swaddling from infancy. If you haven’t tried it yet, there’s no reason to be nervous. Learning how to swaddle a baby is easy.
Health Benefits of Swaddling
According to the Harvard Health blog, swaddling has many benefits for your baby. There are good reasons that doctors, nurses and midwives recommend this practice to new parents.
Pediatrician Harvey Karp, author of The Happiest Baby on the Block, also recommends learning how to swaddle a baby.
Here are some important benefits of swaddling for your baby’s health.
- It allows babies to sleep on their backs. This is a good way to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which tends to happen among babies who sleep on their sides or stomach.
- It can help colicky babies calm down and go to sleep. If you’ve ever had a baby with colic, you know what a blessing this is for both of you.
- Combining swaddling with other soothing gestures gets the best results.
Now that you’re convinced that swaddling can save your sanity, it’s time to take baby and blanket in hand. Follow these steps to learn how to swaddle a baby safely and easily.
Tips for Swaddling a Baby
Learning how to swaddle a baby is a bit like learning how to wrap a package. Once you start folding, you’ll see how easy it is. After you do it a few times, you’ll be an expert.
1. Use the Right Swaddling Blanket
The best fabric for swaddling is soft, lightweight and made from natural fabrics. Cotton, linen or muslin blends are good choices that are breathable and washable.
You will need a piece of fabric that’s about 40 inches by 40 inches. You can also find specialty blankets designed for swaddling. Some even come with handy Velcro attachments to make it even easier.
2. Start on a Flat Surface
Lay your blanket over a flat, firm surface such as a table, dresser top or baby changing table.
3. Start Folding
Are you ready to become a baby origami master? There’s only one way to learn how to swaddle a baby. Start folding!
- Turn the blanket so that it faces you in a diamond shape. Fold-down the top corner of the blanket. Your baby’s blanket should show three corners and one flat part at the top that is folded down.
- Place your baby on his or her back on the blanket. Keep the baby’s head above the folded edge. Make sure your baby’s face won’t be covered when you pull the sides of the blanket over.
- Take your baby’s arm and move it so that it sits alongside his or her body. Make sure it is straight.
- Pull the fabric from the other side of the blanket across your baby’s body. Tuck the corner under your baby’s back or arm.
- Move the other arm. Do the same thing on this side. Keep the arm straight and pull the fabric from the opposite side across your baby’s body. Tuck the corner in.
- Your baby should now be firmly but gently tucked inside the blanket. Finish by loosely tucking the ends of the blanket over your baby’s feet.
- Some mothers leave their babies’ arms outside the blanket. This makes it easier to swaddle, but it also makes it easier for your little one to bust out.
- The swaddle should have some give. It shouldn’t be wrapped too tightly.
- Make sure your baby can freely move his or her legs.
- Keep your baby lightly dressed under the swaddle.
- Don’t swaddle a baby who is able to roll over. Swaddling can interfere with their movement and comfort.
- If you’re not sure you’re doing it correctly, ask a nurse, a fellow parent or a midwife for help.
IS Swaddling a Baby Dangerous?
There are some times when you should avoid swaddling.
One outcome was a higher risk of SIDS among older babies who were swaddled. This tended to happen only among babies who were older than six months. At that age, most babies can roll over on their own. Being swaddled while rolling over can cause a baby to suffocate.
The study also found that swaddling could hurt babies’ limbs in some cases. In babies that were over six months old, tight swaddling could cause their hip bones to grow crooked.
The researchers pointed out that swaddling was beneficial for young babies. It should be used with care on older infants.
Here Are the Key Takeaways
- Make sure the swaddling fabric doesn’t come loose.
- Don’t swaddle babies for long stretches of time. You can use a sleeping swaddle to help your baby sleep and still have full use of his or her legs.
- Babies should only sleep on their backs when they’re swaddled.
- Don’t swaddle babies who are more than six months old.
- Learn how to swaddle your baby safely. It’s the best way to enjoy the benefits of swaddling.
When to Stop Swaddling
Now that you know how to swaddle a baby, you need to learn how to stop. Is your baby ready to break free of the wrap? Here’s how to know.
Your Baby Is Too Old (or Too Developed) for Swaddling
If your baby can roll over on their stomach by themselves, it’s time to stop swaddling. Swaddling, in this case, can be dangerous. Your baby will roll over during sleep. That can be risky if your baby is wrapped in fabric.
Your Baby Resists Swaddling
If your baby resists swaddling, try swaddling with one arm left outside the blanket. Continue swaddling even if your little one goes back to sleeping restlessly or fussing. If he or she seems to sleep just fine and stay calm, you can begin to transition away from swaddling.
How to Stop Swaddling
- Start by leaving one arm out of the swaddle. See how your baby reacts to that.
- If everything seems fine, start leaving both arms out of the swaddle. If your baby stays calm and sleeps well, you can stop swaddling.
- Take a few days or weeks to make the transition. Once your baby can sleep easily, stop the swaddling.
- Most babies are ready to sleep without swaddling when they’re four or five months old.
You know how important sleep is to you and your baby. Learning how to swaddle a baby safely is an important part of developing good sleeping habits in your baby. This time-honored trick has soothed babies since the dawn of time. Make it part of your regular routine and you’ll soon reap the benefits.