What You Must Know on How to Safely Swaddle Your Baby

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Baby Swaddling and Sleeping in the Bed

Swaddle baby is an age-old technique to help your baby sleep better. It might seem strange, but wrapping your baby up like a little burrito, known as swaddling, does the trick for many babies. You do have to understand how to safely swaddle your baby before you get started.

Parents have wrapped their babies in swaddles for thousands of years. We know that, in the 18th century, parents discontinued the practice, but it made a massive comeback in the 1970s. Now, this natural method for relaxing and soothing your baby has made a full comeback.

Ready to learn more? Keep reading!

Chances are you know what swaddling is or have seen pictures of a swaddled baby. Swaddling means tightly wrapping your baby in a blanket that makes her feel safe and secure, just like she was in her mother’s womb. A womb is snug and cozy, so that’s naturally what a baby thinks is relaxing and soothing.

  • The question is - is swaddling safe?

Swaddles must be fastened snuggly with no way for it to come undone. When done correctly, the swaddle is safe, and many doctors encourage the practice.

Nowadays, the market is saturated with choices for parents to use as swaddles. You can purchase large blankets, velcro swaddles, swaddles with zippers, and more! There is an endless supply of choices for parents.

The Benefits of Swaddling Your Baby

Aside from being utterly adorable, there are some real benefits to swaddling your baby. The most crucial purpose of wrapping your baby up is to keep your baby calm and relaxed. A few other benefits of baby swaddle include:

1. Keeps Baby Warm

Babies don’t come out with a properly regulated internal thermometer. It’s easy for babies to become too cold, so keeping your baby swaddled ensures he is cozy and warm. We know that using blankets at night in the bassinet or crib isn’t safe, so swaddles take the place of any blankets you might be tempted to use.

2. Prevents the Startle Reflex

Babies have a powerful startle reflex, and it’s known for waking babies up all the time. It can be quite frustrating!

Have you ever had one of those falling dreams when you jerk awake? They’re frustrating! One minute you feel cozy and warm, floating off into a dream and preparing to fall asleep. The next moment, you jerk awake.

Our babies feel very similar when their Moro reflex, also called the startle reflex, kicks in. This reflex is quite normal, but swaddling prevents your baby from swinging his arms out suddenly, waking him up.

3. Baby Feels Secure

Birth is a bit traumatic for babies. Think about it! One minute, your baby is cozy in his mother’s womb. All of his needs are met  – his belly is full, he is warm, and he’s close to his mom. That’s all he wants.

Then, after birth, he is in a wide, bright, cold area. That’s a lot for a new baby, and it can be overwhelming. It’s no wonder that babies need to feel secure and safe as they adjust to the world outside of the womb.

Swaddling is a great way to keep your baby relaxed!

4. Helps Baby Sleep Better

Perhaps best of all, swaddling helps keep baby asleep longer. You do need to be careful that your baby doesn’t sleep so well that he misses essential meals. Babies need to eat just as much as they need to sleep.

However, swaddling your baby can give you solid blocks of 2-3 hour stretches at night. Those solid blocks of sleep feel like heaven when you’re sleep deprived.

How to Swaddle a Baby Step by Step?

At first, learn how to swaddle a baby step by step can seem like a daunting task, but it only takes a few steps! Here is what you need to do.

1  Spread out the blanket that you selected for swaddling. It needs to be on a flat surface with one corner pointing upwards, like a diamond.
2  Fold the top corner down a few inches to make a flat line.
3  Place your baby face-up on the blanket. His head needs to sit above the folded corner; rest his neck on the line. His body should point down towards the bottom corner of the blanket.
4  First, put your baby’s left arm straight down at his side and pull the left corner of the blanket over his body. Wrap that blanket over her left arm and chest. Then, tuck the blanket behind her back. This step covers your baby’s left arm, but it leaves her right arm free to move still.
5  Grab the bottom of the blanket and bring it up over your baby’s body loosely. You don’t want to swaddle too tightly around his hips. Tuck it under the first fold under her chin.
6  If there is any remaining blanket at the bottom, twist it and tuck it under your baby.

What Do I Do if My Baby Doesn’t Like Being Swaddled?

Some babies seem not to like swaddling as much as the other babies, and that can be frustrating for parents. These babies find restrictive, and they fight for their freedom with all the might of a newborn baby.

You don’t have to swaddle your baby. It’s not a requirement to be an excellent parent. If your baby is unhappy with swaddling, don’t move forward.  

Before giving up the swaddle blankets totally, you can try some alternatives. Many babies like a swaddle with his arms out, so try to leave her arms out of the swaddle blanket. Other babies like the Velcro tab swaddles better than swaddling blankets.

Don’t stress! Give them a try, and if your baby is still angry, move on and forget about swaddling!

When to Stop Swaddling Your Baby?

Perhaps one of the most important questions is when to stop swaddling your baby. Swaddling is an excellent trick for newborns, but it can be dangerous for older infants who have learned how to break free of the blankets.

You want to stop swaddling when your little baby is more active or tries to roll over. Rolling over is a common milestone around three to four months. Some experts say it’s best to stop swaddling before your baby has the chance to learn how to roll over, recommending that you remove the swaddle around eight weeks old.

Is Swaddling Safe?

We know that blankets and babies don’t safely mix, so is swaddling safe?

The answer is Yes and No. Swaddling isn’t risk-free, which is why you have to learn how to safely swaddle your baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics does recommend that your swaddle due to the benefits we listed above, so long as you swaddle correctly and follow the proper steps to safe sleep.

If the swaddle blankets are loose or come unwrapped, the blankets could accidentally cover your baby’s face and be a potential suffocation hazard. Then, you add in the risk factor that swaddling makes your baby sleep deeply. So, if your baby is in a deep sleep and the blanket covers his face, you may never know something is wrong.

At the same time, swaddle blankets that are too tight around a baby’s hips pose a danger as well. Swaddling tightly around a baby’s legs force them into a straight position that isn’t natural which could cause damage to her hips.

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4 Safely Tips to Swaddle Baby

Of course, there are some best baby swaddle tips you should consider when you start to swaddle baby. Here are a few of those tips.

1. Swaddle Snugly Not Tight

The swaddle needs to be snug around your baby, but it shouldn’t be tight. Make sure you can fit two to three fingers between your baby’s chest and the blanket. Also, it should be loose enough that your baby can move his legs freely.

2. Put Your Baby to Sleep on Her Back

We know that the number one piece of advice that reduces the risk of SIDS is putting the baby to sleep on his back. It’s the safest position, and the “Back to Sleep” campaign has dramatically reduced the percentage of SIDS cases in the past decades.

If you decide to swaddle your baby, always place him to sleep on his back.

3. Keep Your Baby Cool

Overheating is a risk factor for SIDS as well. Keep your baby’s nursery at the right temperatures, between 68 and 72 degrees F. You don’t need to put extra layers on your baby either. All he needs is a thin layer, such as a cotton pajamas or a onesie, then the swaddle.

If you notice any of these signs, it means your baby is too hot and needs to be removed from the swaddle immediately.

  • Sweating
  • Wet Hair
  • Red Cheeks
  • Heat Rash
  • Rapid Breathing

4. Stop Swaddling When You Should

All good things must come to an end at some point. As your baby gets older and starts to move more, he will learn how to roll over. Once your baby is attempting to roll over or can roll over, it’s time to say goodbye to the swaddling blankets.

Keeping Your Baby Safe

Swaddling is a real way to help keep your baby calm and happy, plus a way to catch a few extra hours of sleep. That doesn’t mean swaddling is safe. You have to learn how to safely swaddle your baby.  

Swaddle baby is also a good way to relax. You can catch some extra shut-eye while your baby snoozes in the swaddle without any worries that something will happen to your baby. That’s a great feeling.

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