Are you ready to learn how to swaddle a baby? Excellent! Because we have a step-by-step guide for you to follow here.
If you have been to a hospital nursery before, you might have noticed how neatly babies are wrapped in their new blankets like small gift packages with only their tiny heads poking out. The entire wrapping requires some dexterity as it is the secret to a calm and content baby. Nurses understand the importance of swaddling a baby correctly and once in a while have to teach young parents this trick to have a happy and comfortable baby.
In this guide, you will learn exactly how to swaddle a baby.
What is Swaddling?
Swaddling is an ancient method used by our grandparents which involved wrapping a newborn in a thin cloth or blanket. When babies are born, they immediately recognize a completely different atmosphere from the one they had in the womb. For this reason, they may cry or fuss if they are not warm enough, particularly on their first days. The purpose of swaddling is to create a womb-like environment that will help your little angel to stay calm as they adjust to life outside the womb.
Swaddling also helps:
• Prevents babies from flailing their arms and legs, which can easily trigger startle reflex and potentially wake them up.
• Limits movement and allows your baby to stay in a comfortable position while sleeping.
• Swaddles helps your baby feel safe and secure when they are not in your arms.
How to Swaddle a Baby: A Step-By-Step Guide
The swaddling skill or learning how to swaddle may seem daunting at first, especially for young first-time mothers who have lots of things to learn like breastfeeding, diaper changing, and bathing a newborn. However, swaddling only takes a few steps to get your little one all warm and cozy. Whether your baby likes their arms out or wiggle a lot when being swaddled, this step-by-step guide will help you solve all that.
There are many reasons you may want to learn how to wrap a baby in this old style. However, the swaddling technique requires some skill and practice to do it correctly. If you are a new mom or mom-to-be, you don’t want to skip learning this kick-ass parental skill. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to swaddle your newborn like an expert.
Step 1: Look for a flat surface, not too hard for your young one
You can use your bed or your baby’s cot. If you have a diaper changing table, then that is even better. Get your baby’s swaddle blanket and spread it on the flat surface in a diamond design with one corner pointing up. Fold that top corner down about 6 inches.
Step 2. Gently place your baby on their back on the blanket
Place the baby’s head slightly above the folded edge, and the body and legs should extend straight to the other edge down the corner.
Step 3: Straighten your baby’s left arm
Take your baby’s left arm and straighten it and take the left side of the blanket and wrap it over the left arm and chest. Tuck the blanket under the right arm and back. At this point, your baby’s right arm will be free while the left is completely covered.
Step 4: Bring the bottom corner up
Fold the blanket’s bottom corner and cover your baby’s body and tuck it under the previous fold. Next, straighten your baby’s right arm and pull the right side of the blanket over the body and tuck it under the left leg.
Step 5: Secure the blanket
Gently and loosely twist the bottom part of the blanket and tuck it below your baby.
And that is it! Your baby is all neatly swaddled up and ready for a nap!
What to Keep in Mind When Swaddling
While swaddling may seem simple, there are many aspects to be considered when swaddling your baby. Remember, your newborn is still fragile and sensitive. They may not enjoy the heavy blankets or the tight folds around their small bodies. So, you have to balance and figure out what will be comfortable for them.
The swaddle should be snug but not too tight. To ensure you get it right, you should be able to place two or three fingers between your baby’s chest and the blanket. The blanket should also be loose around the hips to allow leg movement. If you can get a stretching blanket, that would work even better.
If your baby prefers her arms out, leave the right or both arms out. If they are too wiggly to swaddle, give them a break and allow them to cool before trying it again. However, if they are always trying to wiggle out of the swaddle, this may be an indication that they don’t like it. If wrapping them doesn’t always work, you can try the ready-made swaddles, which only require you to place your baby inside and zip up.
Remember to be gentle; if you are pulling your baby’s arms too hard to straighten them, they may try to resist, cry, or wiggle out of the swaddle. Consider bringing the hands together on their chest instead of straightening them, which is more comforting.
Is Swaddling Safe For My Baby?
Many people believe that blankets and baby sleeping can be potentially dangerous as they can quickly suffocate or strangle a sleeping baby. The truth is that swaddling is not entirely safe, and certain precautions have to be taken. However, some specialists and paediatricians swear that swaddling is the best way to get your newborn baby snoozing better. Note the word newborn–these are babies who haven’t started making a lot of body movements and still think and feel as if they are still in the womb. Swaddling should be done correctly and practised per the safe sleep guidelines.
Is Swaddling Really Necessary?
Many parents admit that their babies sleep better when swaddled. However, some babies are not fans of swaddles, and you might wonder if it is necessary. Every baby is different, and not all of them will enjoy their bodies and arms wrapped up like a parcel. To them, swaddles are restricting, and they may try to fight their way to get out of their tiny cell. So, if your baby gets crazed by the swaddle instead of calming down, then you don’t have to do it.
However, you might want to experiment with several swaddling techniques and see what works. For instance, your baby may not like the idea of having their arms locked in. You can leave the arms out and tuck the rest of the body. The extra freedom might be more appealing and comfortable for them.
If your little one loves to kick, they might enjoy being in a tab swaddle, sleep-sack swaddle, or zip-up cocoon, which allows leg movement. You can try out several swaddles and find out which one works for both of you. Once you have one that works best, make sure you have several extras to change when it’s necessary.
If nothing works at all, don’t worry. Move on and find other ways of calming your babies, such as baby nursery rhymes, pacifier, or gentle rocking.
For How Long Should You Swaddle a Baby?
This is a common question from most parents, especially those who find swaddling a helpful practice. Unfortunately, you will not swaddle your baby forever. Once your baby starts exploring with their mouths and hands, it might just be the end of swaddling. Swaddling is a smart move for newborns, and it works like magic almost all the time. However, you need to stop swaddling your baby once they are older.
There is no ideal age to stop swaddling as babies have different growth rates, but the most recommended age to stop swaddling is from 3 months where your child’s arms and legs have started moving. Some babies start rolling over as young as three months, which makes swaddling unsafe.
Swaddling or wrapping up a baby who is already in motion is unhealthy and may interfere with their physical development as it interferes with the proper practice of motor skills. The last thing you want is a baby who won’t play or move from their position. For this reason, you will want to quit as soon as you notice your baby is more active.
What Happens When I Stop Swaddling?
So, what happens when the swaddling period is over? Well, you’ll want to start finding out other calming and comfortable ways that work for your baby. Remember, even if your baby has outgrown swaddling, they are still young to sleep with blankets. To keep them warm and cozy during their resting time, try putting them in a sleeping sack.
These are relatively warm cloth-like wearable blankets that add an extra layer of warmth. They help your baby transition well from the swaddle as they do not cover the body unevenly or create lumps that can be uncomfortable. Consider buying those with arms and are long enough to allow leg movement. This way, your baby can roll and play in their cot while still enjoying some warmth.
How To Swaddle A Baby: Final Thoughts
Swaddling can be intimidating when trying it for the first time. You may find yourself worrying about your baby’s response. But rest assured that you have so many opportunities to practice and learn.
The chances are that you will become a swaddling pro in no time. But until then, learn how your baby prefers to be swaddled. Remember, they are the little bosses, so don’t force them if they are not into the idea.
If you are not sure about your swaddling techniques, feel free to speak to your paediatrician, who will check your skills and share some helpful insights where you are not getting it right.
Our guide ‘Best Baby Wrap For Newborns‘ will help you choose the perfect swaddle to keep your bundle of joy happy, safe, and warm.