Having a newborn baby is the most special experience that a parent goes through. From the moment you get to hold your baby in the arms and softly caress them to the time your baby grows into a toddler, you want to take the utmost care so that your newborn feels the safest.
One way to keep your baby comfortable, warm, and cozy is by swaddling him so that he can sleep more soundly and stay calm. Swaddling can be beneficial for your baby in the first few months. So, to make sure you make the most out of it, this guide will help you learn more about this technique, including how to swaddle a baby step by step and the benefits and safety it provides to your baby.
What is Swaddling?
Swaddling is the practice or technique of wrapping your baby’s body in a swaddle blanket that new parents swear by. It makes babies feel like they’re in their mother’s womb and helps keep the baby warm. Swaddled babies love it and always fall asleep faster when wrapped tightly in swaddle blankets (and usually end up sleeping for hours). And parents love it because it helps babies sleep longer and keep them from crying, fussing, and/or startling themselves awake with their own arm movements.
Benefits of Swaddling
There are many benefits of swaddling to help your baby sleep and lie comfortably and keep the parents stress-free as they leave the babies wrapped while working!
Keeps Your Baby Warm
Newborn babies have underdeveloped body systems which means that their body’s thermoregulatory and other organ systems are not developed to offer the warmth needed to keep them safe. Swaddling in the initial months after the birth of your baby keeps them warm and cozy so that they don’t feel the extreme temperatures and stay safe.
By keeping your baby warm and cozy, swaddling keeps your baby safely wrapped and comfortable. Without properly wrapping your baby in a swaddle, there’s a chance that you may be risking your baby’s safety especially when you keep her away from your sight while you’re working or don’t wrap her when she sleeps. By wrapping your baby in a wearable blanket or sleep sack, you’ll be able to help your baby sleep well and keep him safe and sound.
Limits the Startle Reflex
Newborns tend to observe involuntary movements called reflexes in the first two years. As they learn to sit, crawl, stand, and walk, these reflexes diminish as the babies achieve their developmental milestones. Until your baby knows how to control his body, wrapping him in a swaddle will keep his involuntary movements under control especially the startle reflex which can wake your baby during her sleep. This will help your baby sleep well and avoid any disturbances for parents and babies.
Soothes Your Baby
Your baby feels the utmost warmth and coziness being wrapped in a swaddle. Swaddling will soothe your baby and help him feel comfortable during something that can be a little unpleasant for your babies such as vaccination or other treatments.
How To Swaddle Your Baby Step-by-Step
Swaddling your baby helps them sleep well and feel safe and keep the fussy baby secure, but getting the swaddle just right can be tricky at first. With the right blanket, however, it’s much easier to achieve proper swaddling. And once you have that down, you can start to experiment with variations to create your own customized swaddling techniques! Here’s how to swaddle and wrap baby correctly in a step-by-step guide.
1. Find a flat and comfortable surface
Find a flat and smooth surface to spread the baby blanket on the middle of your bed. Spread the blanket in a diamond shape with the upper corner of the blanket pointing up. Now fold the top corner down about 6 inches.
2. Place your baby face-up on the blanket
With your baby’s face up, place his head over the top folded corner of the blanket. His body should extend straight down toward the bottom corner.
3. Wrap the blanket over your baby’s left arm
Straighten the baby’s left arm and wrap the left corner of the blanket over that arm and also your baby’s chest. At this point, your baby’s left arm will be covered while the right side will be free. Now tuck the blanket underneath his right arm and his back.
4. Bring up the bottom corner
Now bring the bottom corner of the blanket over your baby’s legs body and tuck in under the first fold. Similar to the left side, straighten your baby’s right arm and wrap the right corner of the blanket over and tuck it under the left side. Your baby’s head and neck should remain exposed.
5. Secure the blanket
Lastly, loosely twist the bottom of the blanket and tuck it under your baby. Make sure the baby’s swaddle is not too tight neither too loose.
When to Swaddle Your Newborn?
There’s no single right answer for when it’s time to start swaddling your baby wearable blankets. It can vary from mum to mum and from baby to baby. Some babies enjoy being wrapped tightly almost immediately, whereas others don’t like being swaddled until they hit their second month. Because you want your little one to sleep soundly, there are a few signs that indicate it’s time for you to embrace the swaddle:
- When his eyes stay closed after she wakes up from a nap or feeding
- When he seems very irritable during or after a meal
- If he begins tossing his arms around as if he’s having a hard time falling asleep
When to Stop Swaddling?
Although swaddling your baby is a great practice to do in the first couple of months, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends stopping swaddling your baby once he is able to roll over on his sides. This rolling movement may happen around the time he’s 2 months old. If this movement is delayed or if you need more information about swaddling your baby, you can get in touch with your baby’s pediatrician or healthcare provider.
Is Swaddling a Safe Practice?
While swaddling is a great practice to keep your baby warm and comfortable, there are a few things you need to be careful about to protect your baby from unnecessary discomfort. If the swaddle blanket is loose or becomes unwrapped during sleep, it could cover your baby’s face and create a potential for suffocation.
Swaddle blankets that are too snug around your baby’s body, especially their hips, are also risky. If you swaddle the blanket too tight, it can force your baby’s legs into an unnatural position that can damage his hip joint and cartilage. This can increase the risk of hip dysplasia in your newborn. To enable the healthy development of your baby’s hips, the bottom of the swaddle should be loose enough so that your baby’s legs are bent up and out just like they naturally are in a lying position.
Consider these important swaddling safety tips to make sure your baby stays comfy and warm in the swaddle blanket.
- Keep your baby cool- Swaddling can cause overheating, which can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Maintain a comfortable temperature in the room (between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit). A pair of pajamas and a swaddle blanket are likely to keep your baby comfortable – resist the urge to bundle her in additional layers. Heat rash, sweating, damp hair, flushed cheeks, and rapid breathing are all possible signs that your baby is too hot.
- Swaddle your baby snugly- Swaddle your baby snugly, but not too snugly which feels tight. You should be able to slide two to three fingers between the blanket and the baby’s chest. Make sure the bottom of the blanket is not too loose. Moreover, a safe sleeping space for infants should stay free of any loose bedding or soft objects.
- Leave the arms out if it feels comfortable- If your baby feels comfortable having his arms out, you can leave one or both of his arms outside the swaddle. This will prevent any discomfort to your baby and give him the freedom when he’s just lying on the bed and not sleeping.
The Bottom Line
Swaddling is a great technique to use to help your baby feel calm, safe, and secure and make him sleep more soundly. If you choose to swaddle your baby with a blanket, consider the safety tips to avoid the risk of overheating and prevent covering his face. With the right technique employed, your baby will enjoy the safest time snuggling in the blanket and you’ll enjoy yours with peace of mind.