How to Swaddle a Baby
Author: SHK Team Date Posted:2 April 2020
How to swaddle a baby: step by step guide
Swaddling is the ancient technique of snugly wrapping a baby. Whilst there’s almost nothing sweeter than a baby cocooned in it’s wrap, swaddling is used to help your baby to feel calm and settled. Some of the benefits of swaddling include:
- A feeling of security for your baby - life outside the womb can be a shock to some babies. Swaddling mimics the safety of the womb and helps your baby to settle and feel secure as they adjust to this new big world.
- Keeping baby cosy - It can take a few days for your baby’s internal thermostat to kick in. Swaddling will help them to feel cosy warm in the meantime.
- Stops them from disturbing themselves - babies often disturb themselves with their own startle reflex. Swaddling prevents your baby from flailing her arms and legs, which can trigger the startle reflex.
- Helps them sleep better - the warmth and light pressure of a stretch jersey wrap or muslin wrap aids sleep and that’s got to be a good thing!
Step by Step Instructions for swaddling/wrapping your baby
1. Spread your Muslin Wrap or Jersey Wrap out on a flat surface with one corner pointing up, like a diamond. Fold the top corner down about 15 cm (6 inches).
2. Place your baby face-up on the blanket. Her head should sit above the folded corner, and her body should extend straight down toward the bottom corner.
3. Straighten your baby’s left arm. Then take the left side of the Muslin Wrap and wrap it over her left arm and chest. Tuck the baby swaddle wrap underneath her other arm and back. At this point your baby’s left arm will be covered but her right arm will be free.
4. Fold the bottom corner of the wrap up over your baby’s body and tuck it under the first fold, under her chin. Straighten your baby’s right arm and pull the right side of the blanket over your baby’s body and tuck it under her left side.
5. Loosely twist the bottom of the blanket and tuck it underneath your baby.
Tips for swaddling your baby with a Jersey Wrap or Muslin Wrap
Because swaddling is such an effective settling technique, most hospitals will give new parents a swaddling lesson before they are discharged. But whilst swaddling is an accepted practice and widely promoted as helping to soothe babies, there are some important guidelines to follow when using swaddle wraps. Safe sleeping guidelines, including safe swaddling techniques are shared by Red Nose Australia and we recommend that you read these alongside our own tips for swaddling your baby.
- It’s important that your baby doesn’t overheat whilst wrapped. Dress your little one lightly in one layer of clothing under the wrap and choose a lightweight swaddle such as our stretch Jersey Wrap or Muslin Wrap.
- Do not cover your baby’s head or face with the wrap and ensure that the wrap is not too tight around your baby’s hips – your baby’s legs should stay bent, with knees apart.
- Your newborn can be swaddled with their arms folded across their chest. At around 3 months (when their startle reflex is gone) you can leave your baby’s arms free. Once your baby becomes more active and is trying to roll, it’s time to stop swaddling.
- Wrap your baby snuggly, but not too tightly. When swaddled correctly your baby’s chest will rise normally during breathing and you should be able to fit 2-3 fingers between the wrap and your baby’s chest.
- Put your baby to sleep lying on their back and follow the SID safe sleep guidelines.
When should I stop swaddling my baby?
How long swaddling is effective varies from baby to baby, but as a general rule, swaddling is most effective in the first 4 months of your baby’s life. You will know it’s time to stop swaddling when your baby shows any of these signs:
- Increased activity and taking arms out mid-sleep
- Growing too strong, or too mobile to stay swaddled through the night
- Fighting being swaddled
- Starting to roll-over
- Often waking up in the middle of the night after a period of sleeping well
- Startle reflex has disappeared, or almost disappeared
When it’s time to stop swaddling, make the transition easier for your baby (and you) by swapping your swaddle wrap for a soft knitted cotton baby blanket which can be used safely to tuck them into their cot.