How to Swaddle a Baby

On the first day out of the hospital nursery, your baby most likely came back tightly wrapped in a cute little package. With their adorable tiny head peeking out, just like a baby burrito. That’s because there is nothing better than calming a fussy baby with a swaddling blanket.

But, if you’ve never used the swaddling technique, then it may seem a little bit overwhelming to get it right. Don’t fret! We got you covered. If you don’t know how to swaddle your baby, then you are in the right spot. We will show you the ins and outs of swaddling so that you can get it right the first time.

Just get yourself a soft muslin blanket. This material is designed to be the safest and most comfortable option to get a newborn to sleep. We also collected practical information about swaddling that will answer all your queries.

Swaddling – What Is It, Exactly?

Before you can learn how to swaddle your baby, you need to figure out what swaddling means. In its most basic form, swaddling is a wrapping technique that imitates the mother’s womb. Since the baby is snuggly wrapped in a blanket, swaddling mildly restricts their movement. Allowing the newborn to feel safe and warm.

The Actual Benefits of Swaddling for Babies

It’s good to use swaddle blankets to calm the newborn and promote sleep. It’s best to learn to swaddle your baby from birth and use swaddling tactics on a daily basis until the baby is about 2 months old.

In many countries, swaddling is a standard wrapping treatment for babies. In Turkey, for example, 93.1% of babies are swaddled. The practice is also widespread in China. While in Britain, roughly 19.4% of babies are swaddled to get a good night’s sleep.

Of course, if you are not a fan of swaddles, then go ahead and use sleep sacks for babies instead. They too can get the job done. With that in mind, here are the many benefits that swaddling can offer.

  • When you swaddle your baby, you make sure they keep their hands off their face to prevent scratching.
  • The comfy and warm surface of the blanket lets babies sleep longer and better.
  • Swaddles prevent sudden infant death syndrome by keeping unnecessary items like stuffed plushies, blankets, or pillows away from the baby’s crib.
  • After learning how to swaddle a baby, the newborn will keep sleeping on its back. This makes it easier to develop healthy sleep habits.
  • Swaddle wraps calm infants and eliminates anxiety.
  • When you swaddle your baby, you protect the newborn against its own natural startle reflex. That means better sleep for the baby and you.

The Proper Swaddling Techniques Every Parent Needs to Know

Many parents want to know how to swaddle a baby tight to provide their newborn with comfort and safety. Well, the best part about swaddling is the muslin blanket. This adorable yet comfy material features a breathable and stretchy surface.

Due to its breathability, the blanket won’t let the baby overheat. Meaning that you can rest assured knowing that your baby’s naptime is not a sweaty mess! To learn the baby how to swaddle technique, follow the step by step guide below.

Step 1: Preparing the Swaddling Blanket

Baby laying on a swaddle blanket

Take the muslin blanket and spread it out flat. If you want another blanket rather than muslin, then make sure to use breathable and thin materials. The go-to choice for swaddling is cotton or specialized cotton-winged swaddles for newborns. Once you’ve spread the blanket, fold over the top corner. This folded part will provide the baby with a cushion-like surface for their shoulders and back.

Step 2: Getting the Baby Ready for Swaddling

Swaddled baby with one arm out

Place the newborn faceup with their head over the folded part. Their neck should be at the edge of the area you just folded. This is to ensure that you don’t cover their face when swaddling.

Step 3: Start Wrapping

Last step in how to swaddle

Take the right corner of the blanket and wrap it over the baby, then tuck it under their body. Once you’ve ensured a snug wrap, take the bottom corner and bring the corner up over their feet. Remember, don’t use too much force.

The idea isn’t to stop the baby from moving their knees or hips. When you learn how to swaddle a baby, the whole point is to mimic the natural comfort and safety of the womb. So, wrapping too tightly could result in hip dysplasia.

To avoid that from happening, let the baby move their knees and hips while asleep. They should also fall in a natural position, like frog legs, for healthy hip development.

Step 4: Add the Finishing Touches

Now that your baby is in a comfortable position, take the leftover corner on the left side and wrap it over their body. Don’t forget to tuck the blanket underneath. Swaddled babies enjoy this sleeping environment, which makes them feel at ease.

How to Know If Baby Likes Swaddling?

Most babies make a fuss when they don’t like something. They start to squirm to show you when they are really not in the mood to be swaddled. Observe the baby’s reactions and see how they handle the swaddling.

There are some babies that absolutely hate having their arms swaddled. But, there are a ton more newborns who won’t put up a fight.

How Do I Know If My Baby Is Overheating?

Many parents can’t help it when they want to keep their baby’s body warm. They end up using as much thick clothing and blankets as they can just to make sure the baby doesn’t catch a cold. But, don’t overdo it. Newborns can also feel too hot!

When the baby feels uncomfortable, they can get a heat rash and won’t sleep as much as they need to. To safely swaddle, you should make sure the newborn enjoys the right temperature at bedtime. According to experts, these telltale signs can help you figure out when the baby is overheating.

  • Flushed cheeks
  • The baby’s face feels hot (without/with a fever)
  • Damp hair due to sweating
  • Increased heart rate
  • Restless or fussy behavior
  • Rapid breathing
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sluggishness and exhaustion

To prevent overheating, keep the temperature in the baby’s room somewhere between 20°C and 22°C (68°F and 72°F). The temperature will vary depending on the seasons. The idea is to not overdress the baby when you put them to bed. That way, you can create the ultimate swaddling environment.

Will My Baby Be Warm Enough in Swaddle?

Yes. The blanket is comfortable and warm enough to make the baby feel safe and warm. It’s normal for new parents to feel on edge. To check if your little munchkin is warm enough, place your hand on their chest. Does it feel cozy and warm?

If their chest is soaked in sweat, then it means the newborn is too hot. If the chest is a bit chilly, then you need to use layered pajamas. The babies can feel cold in winter, especially if you are not using the proper sleepwear based on the season.

Touching the baby’s feet is another practical way of determining if the baby is warm enough.

Do Babies Sleep Better in the Dark?

In a darker room, the baby is exposed to less stimulation. This can help a child settle down. That’s why a lot of parents are using darkened rooms to tell their newborns that it’s time to rest. Of course, every baby is different.

Some prefer a night light to stay asleep and will cry if you turn the lights off. Ideally, you should watch the baby’s reaction and see whether the dark makes them feel comfortable. Then, tailor the lighting to their needs.

Can I Breastfeed My Baby While It’s Swaddled?

Breastfeeding is a key part of the growing process. But, swaddling the baby while breastfeeding them may not be a good choice. And not for the reason that you think. A swaddled newborn can feel too cozy when swaddled and fall asleep.

Even though this isn’t a bad thing, it means that your baby isn’t fed enough and will wake up crying and fussing. So, keep the infant awake while feeding to make sure they’ve acquired all the nutrients they need.

Do Swaddled Infants Sleep Better?

It depends. If the baby loves the swaddle, then yes. If they hate the blanket, then they will make a fuss. To know for sure, look at how the baby reacts when you prepare them for swaddling.

With just an observation, you can see exactly how the child feels about you using the blanket to wrap it around them. In case the child doesn’t sleep better, you can use a sleep sack or one-piece pajamas in the winter to keep them feeling cozy and nice.

Is It Cruel to Swaddle a Baby?

Swaddling can have its downsides. Especially if you don’t follow swaddling safe techniques. Experts warn that when you wrap the baby too tightly, you will force the legs to stay straight and together. Too much force could lead to hip problems.

Plus, if the blanket comes loose in the middle of the night, it could amplify the risk of suffocation. To avoid that, it’s a good idea to keep close attention to the wrapping techniques you are using.

If you don’t think you can handle it, talk with a nurse from the nursery. They can help you figure out anything you might have missed.

Is It OK If I Don’t Swaddle My Baby?

Absolutely! If your baby is not that eager about swaddles, then there is no need to force them into it. There are other options you can use that can keep the child safe. Instead of using the blanket, you can rely on layers of clothing depending on the season.

For instance, the baby can wear a vest, onesie, or a sleeping sack. Baby sleeping bags are very popular. They come in various togs, which are specifically designed to provide proper warmth and thermal resistance.

Choose the product that’s appropriate to your ambient temperature. Baby items from reputable companies have the right safety information printed on the product. So that you can rest assured you are using them the right way.

Final Thoughts

It is normal for a new parent to feel overwhelmed and stressed when it comes to trying out new things. But, with a newborn, every day will be a new adventure. Sleeping, well, that will probably be the hardest part for the first couple of months.

But, when you give the baby a comfortable sleeping environment, you can offer them peace of mind. Swaddling isn’t as complex or lengthy as it may look at first. When you know the right steps, you can ease some of that pressure and anxiety you are feeling. Eventually, you too can get a shut-eye.

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