How to Swaddle a Baby
Alright mumma and pappa bears, buckle up! We are about to teach you all about why swaddling your baby is an important skill to have as a new parent (or if you need a quick refresher). If you can master the magic of swaddling, you and your baby are on track to getting some more sleep! The good news? It’s not rocket science and has been practiced by parents since the ancient years. All you need is two hands, your baby and a swaddle. If the idea of swaddling your baby is completely new, no stress! We’ve got your back.
Swaddling can play a useful part in helping them settle to sleep and reduce awakenings throughout the night as they adjust to life outside the womb. It is thought that swaddling your baby recreates that warm and cozy feeling of being in the womb and studies even show that babies that sleep swaddled sleep more peacefully during the night. Once you’ve done it a few times, swaddling is very easy to do, but there are a few key safety considerations to keep in mind.
What age should you swaddle your baby?
Swaddling is safe for newborn babies all the way up until they learn to roll over (usually at about 4-6 month old mark). Once you start noticing that your baby is learning to roll on their tummy, this is the appropriate time to transition them to a safe infant sleeping bag or regular pijamas.
Tips for swaddling your baby
- Use a lightweight cotton or muslin wrap for your baby and avoid anything too thick or firm that may cause overheating or constricts them too much.
- Ensure your baby is dressed appropriately for the weather to prevent any overheating when they are wrapped. A nappy and singlet may be enough in the summer time or a lightweight jumpsuit in the winter time depending on your climate.
Newborn babies: fold their arms across their chest or tuck them by their side for swaddling. This is beneficial as during these very first few months your baby will have a startle reflex at any slight disruption. By keeping their arms tucked in you reduce the amount of movement from this reflex which keeps your baby nice and calm and stops them from startling themselves awake.
3 months+: swaddle with your babies arms free so that they can self settle or transition them to a wearable blanket.
- Make sure that your baby is on their back with their feet at the end of the cot. Covering their head or face is not necessary as it will lead to overheating.
- Find the right balance between a firm wrap but not too tight. You want to be able to see your baby's chest rise normally during breathing. You also want to ensure you protect your baby's hips by checking that they can bend at the hips with their knees apart. If you’re not too sure if it is too tight, try the two finger rule by placing two fingers between the swaddle and your baby. If your fingers fit easily, then you can be confident that it is not too tight.
Is it okay to swaddle a baby during the night?
Yes! By swaddling your baby safely during the night not only are you creating more comfort for your bundle of joy, but you also help to reduce the risk of sudden infant death by keeping your baby safely sleeping on their back. It is important to note however that if your baby is co-sleeping with you, swaddling is not advised. You must also follow safe sleep guidelines by using a firm mattress with no loose sheets or blankets.
Step by step instructions
1. Lay your swaddle flat like a diamond with one corner facing up. Fold your swaddle into a triangle by folding back one corner to the other. If this makes your swaddle too short, don’t fold the top part of the diamond all the way down to give you the extra length.
2. Place your baby in the centre with the tip of the triangle facing down. Their shoulders should be just below the top straight edge.
3. Start on one side and place your baby's left or right arm in the appropriate position (as advised above) and pull the same side of the swaddle across the baby's chest, tucking the edge of the swaddle under the body on the opposite side.
4. Fold the bottom corner of the swaddle up and over your baby's feet, tucking it into the top of the swaddle at their chin.
5. Repeat step 3 on the opposite side and tuck the swaddle underneath your baby. You can slightly twist the end to make it more secure.
6. Viola! Your cute little baby burrito is ready for bed.
Has your baby got the squirmies?
If your baby is too wiggly to wrap up, take a break and let your baby get all the squirms out of their system before continuing. If they just can’t stop squirming, it may be a sign that they are too active to be swaddled and could pose the risk of kicking off their swaddle during sleep. Just remember, all babies are wonderfully different and if swaddling doesn’t work for your bubs, that is OKAY! Your baby's safety must come first, always. If your baby loves to wave their arms like they just don’t care, feel free to experiment with arms out and see if that works before you stop swaddling all together.
Chances are you will become a swaddle expert in no time, but if you are having ongoing issues, don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional or experienced family member for help and guidance.