How To Swaddle A Baby

swaddled baby

Photo: Robert Scoble

Toward the end of 40 weeks in utero, there isn’t much wiggle room for a soon-to-be-born baby. Which is why many professionals believe swaddling comforts a baby, making it feels like it’s still inside the womb. Swaddling is the primary method for helping a baby get to sleep, duplicating a cozy environment and eliminating the baby startling himself.

An infant can be swaddled from day one, or it can be introduced a few weeks in once the 23-hours-of-sleep has worn off and he’s in need of additional comforting. Babies can be swaddled indefinitely but are usually weaned from the method around four months of age. Some parents allow losing the swaddle to occur naturally, when baby outgrows the blanket (it can no longer be wrapped securely around the body) or he can break free with arms or legs. You should discontinue swaddling once your baby can roll over.

Most of the serious wrapping occurs from the stomach up—keeping the hands and arms contained. Traditional swaddling limits leg and foot movement, too. A few years ago, pediatricians began recommending the legs be free to move into a natural frog position, which will eliminate the proclivity for hip dysplasia.

The keys to a good swaddle are a slightly stretchy, breathable blanket (flannel for cooler months and muslin warmer are great options) and a tight roll. Give those wraps a firm tug every time. You should be able to insert your flattened hand between the baby and the blanket—and that’s it. More room means it’s too loose.

swaddled baby 2

Photo: Michael Labowicz

When following the steps below, roll your baby (as opposed to lifting him up off the blanket) from side to side when smoothing and tucking the fabric. This will ensure a continuous firmness.

1. Place the blanket as a diamond shape and fold down the top corner about six inches. Lay the baby down with his shoulders hitting the top of the folded section. Hold baby’s arms down over stomach in a flexed position with elbows bent—or bent with hands toward mouth if he likes to suck his fingers/self-soothe.

2. Take the left point and bring it over the baby, tucking the excess under the baby’s body firmly. If there’s excess material, smooth it in a downward motion behind the baby toward his feet.

3. Take the bottom point (which will include the excess from the previous fold) and bring it up, folding it over the baby’s left shoulder—again, firmly.

4. Take the final right point and wrap it horizontally across baby’s body. Wrap it all the way around. If you have excess blanket remaining on baby’s left side, tuck it into that last fold.

Category: Kids and Baby

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