How to swaddle a baby

Published by Baby Bunting on Monday, January 28, 2019

Knowing how to swaddle a newborn baby is a great skill to have. When done right, swaddling is an effective way to calm and soothe a baby who is adapting to life outside the womb. At night, swaddling can also help to regulate a baby's sleep patterns, which is a win for everyone!

Why do we swaddle?

For a baby who has spent their entire life inside a snug, warm womb, getting used to the outside world can take a bit of time. Swaddling is aimed at helping your baby transition to a new environment by simulating the cosiness, warmth and security of being back inside mum.

We only swaddle for the first couple of months of a baby's life. After that, your baby's limbs become more motive and they'll want more freedom as they start to grow. Don't stress about the timing: you'll know when to stop swaddling when your baby starts to resist being wrapped up or works their way out of the blanket.

What do I need to swaddle?

  • Choose a lightweight cotton or good quality flannel blanket. The dimensions you should aim for are roughly 100cm x 100cm, see products below
  • A large flat surface area works best, like a table or bed.

How to swaddle

  • Lay the blanket out and position it to make a diamond.
  • Take the top corner and fold it over towards the centre of your diamond. Bigger babies will have a smaller fold, and smaller babies a bigger one.
  • Lay your baby down so that they rest the top of their neck on the crease of the fold.
  • Hold your baby's right arm by their side, then bring the left corner of the blanket over their body and tuck it snugly beneath their back.
  • Bring the bottom corner up to enclose baby's legs in a little pouch. They should have enough room to kick up and out.
  • Hold your baby's left arm down and bring the right corner over their body. Tuck the blanket snug beneath their back.
  • If you have enough blanket left over, you can bring the corner all the way around baby and up to tuck it into the fold by their chin.

Tips

  • When laying your baby down, always place them on their back
  • Avoid using heavy knits or fleece, which can restrict breathing if they bunch up around your baby's face.
  • Try to limit swaddling to sleep times or night time. Babies need opportunities to move freely throughout the day to develop their motor skills.
  • Make sure to leave enough room for your baby to move their legs up and out. Too much restriction in this area can lead to poor development in the hips, a condition called hip dysplasia.
  • Loose blankets can be a SIDS risk, so make sure you swaddle safely. You might take a few times to get it right, but you'll soon get the hang of it.
  • There are a few ways to swaddle, and you'll find one that works best for you both. In the end your goals are to make sure your baby is snug, comfortable and safe.
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