How and When to Swaddle Your Baby

Mothers have been swaddling their babies for thousands of years. Whether you're a new parent or a veteran, you could probably use the extra sleep that swaddling your baby will provide.

Unfortunately, swaddling your baby might seem like somewhat of an art form. Wrap this, tuck that. It can feel confusing, especially when you're up for a 3 a.m. feeding. Learning and practicing the art of swaddling your baby will help you get more sleep. It will also help your baby feel more secure and comforted, just like he was in the womb.

Why swaddle?

You might be thinking that swaddling your baby every time they go to sleep (which is a lot) seems like a lot of work, but there are many benefits to swaddling your baby. Here are some you and your baby will experience:

  • Swaddling protects your baby against their natural startle reflex, which means better sleep for both of you
  • It may help calm a colicky baby
  • It helps eliminate anxiety in your baby by imitating your touch, which helps your baby learn to self-sooth
  • It keeps her hands off her face and helps prevent scratching
  • It helps your baby sleep longer and better
  • It helps prevent SIDS by keeping unnecessary items like pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals out of your baby's crib
  • It keeps your baby on his back while he sleeps

How to swaddle your baby

If you've never swaddled a baby, it might seem like a complicated process. But it doesn't have to be. Practice the following steps a few times and you'll be a pro.

  1. Spread out your swaddling blanket on a soft, flat surface. Arrange the blanket in a diamond shape with the bottom of the diamond pointing toward you.
  2. Fold down the top edge of the blanket. This should create a loose triangle shape. Set your baby with his feet pointing toward you. His shoulder should be just below the fold in the blanket.
  3. Arrange you baby's right arm next to his body with his arm slightly bent. Pull that same side of the blanket up and over your baby's right arm and body, then tuck it underneath your baby. Your baby's left arm should be left free.
  4. Fold the bottom of the swaddle blanket up over your baby's feet. If the blanket is long enough, tuck it behind his shoulder.
  5. Complete the swaddle by pulling the remaining side of the swaddle up and over your baby's remaining arm and across his body.

Safety tips

Although swaddling comes with numerous benefits, you need to make sure you're doing it right to avoid danger or discomfort for your baby. Follow these safety tips:

  • Don't wrap too tight. Swaddling your baby tight enough that he can't move his hips or legs may limit the development of the hip. Aim for a tight enough swaddle that will hold your baby's arms firm, without completely immobilizing her entire body.
  • Always lay your baby down on his back after swaddling.
  • Stop swaddling your baby as soon as he can roll over.
  • Don't double up on blankets when you swaddle. The extra thickness could cause your baby to overheat. It can also dislodge easier, which adds to the risk of suffocation.

Swaddling your baby is a great way to get him to sleep better. When your baby sleeps better, so do you. Once you learn how to swaddle a baby, you'll know how to do it in your sleep (literally)!