Swaddling your newborn can help keep your baby calm and content after he or she is born. But, how do you swaddle a baby and is there a step-by-step process to follow? Yes! This article will tell you how to swaddle a baby and give you 5 tips for better baby sleep.
What is Swaddling?
Swaddling is tightly wrapping your newborn baby in a blanket to give them a womb-like feeling. Some people say it’s like wrapping them up like a burrito.
But, how you swaddle a baby is important, otherwise your baby can break out of the swaddle blanket, which can be dangerous. A loose blanket is not safe for your baby in their bassinet or crib. Read on to learn how to master this important skill.
How to Swaddle a Baby Step-By-Step
Here’s how to swaddle a baby step by step:
- Lay a large receiving or another lightweight blanket on a flat surface with one corner of the blanket folded down.
- Lay your baby down so that his or her head is above the fold made in the first step.
- Take your baby’s right arm and position their hand close to their face or down by their side, depending on preference.
- Take the left side of the blanket and wrap it snugly over your baby’s right arm, lifting the right arm, and tuck the blanket underneath him or her.
- Take the bottom of the blanket and fold it up toward your baby’s chest, but do NOT cover the face.
- Now, hold your baby’s left arm to their side or up by their face and wrap the right side of the blanket snugly over and tuck it in underneath the other side of their body.
Please note: When you are wrapping the blanket around your baby, you want to do this snugly, so it’s hard for him or her to break out, but not so tight they are uncomfortable, of course.
Also note, there are MUCH easier ways to swaddle than this if you have the budget. Read below!
Video: How to Swaddle a Baby
For those who learn better by watching, here is a video of the swaddling process:
An Easier Way to Swaddle
Honestly, using a regular blanket is the hardest way to swaddle, especially as your baby gets older and stronger. Instead, I recommend using one of these products for WAY easier swaddling:
Miracle Blanket – This is the blanket we used, which made it much easier for me to swaddle the baby. My husband was pretty good with the regular blanket, but I could never get it tight enough.
Woombie Swaddling Blanket – Many of our clients rave about this product and it makes swaddling SO easy because all you need to do is zip it up and snap a button.
Love To Dream Swaddle UP – Again, our clients rave about this swaddling blanket, too. The nice thing is that you can “swaddle up” the babies hands as you begin to transition away from swaddling and leave their arms out.
Benefits of Swaddling a Baby
Many new parents wonder why bother swaddling at all. The benefits of swaddling include longer sleep durations, especially those that would otherwise be interrupted by the moro (or startle) reflex, prevents face scratching, and helps to maintain the back sleeping position. A swaddled baby has less anxiety and feels safer since it’s mimicking the womb.
When Should You Stop Swaddling?
Most babies stop being swaddled around 3-4 months old, but some as late as 6-9 months old. There are times you should definitely NOT swaddle your baby and they include:
- If you are bed-sharing.
- If your baby is rolling.
- If your baby keeps breaking out leaving loose bedding in the crib.
- If you are sleep training.
Need more details? See our post How and When To Stop Swaddling Baby
5 Tips For Better Sleep With the Swaddle
Finally, as promised, here are 5 tips to help your baby sleep better even while swaddled:
1. Keep awake time short
If your baby is 4 months or younger, be sure to keep him or her awake 1-2 hours TOPS. Over-tired babies have a much harder time staying asleep. As they get older, they can stay awake longer but still need to sleep within 2-3 hours at 5-6 months old.
2. Room Temperature
Keep your baby’s room temperature between 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit and don’t overdress your baby under the swaddle. A onesie usually suffices.
3. Play White Noise
Just like the swaddle mimics the womb, white noise can also help your baby sleep better by mimicking the womb.
4. Create a bedtime routine
By creating a consistent bedtime routine, you can cue your baby that sleep is on the horizon and prepare them for sleep. This can go a long way to setting the stage for a better night’s sleep or longer nap.
5. Sleep Begets Sleep
Some people might tell you to keep your baby awake more during the day so they sleep better at night, but that’s simply not often true. The only time that applies is if your baby is sleeping too much during the day or has day/night confusion. Otherwise, you’re better off giving your baby the “right” amount of daytime sleep and the “right” number of naps. Better sleep during the day gives you better sleep at night and better sleep at night gives you better daytime sleep. Sleep begets sleep.
Not sure how many naps or how much sleep your baby should be getting? Check out our Sample Sleep and Feeding Schedules!