New parents will likely hear the term "swaddling" hundreds of times in the months leading up to their baby's birth. It's in all the baby books, parenting websites, and has been a topic of conversation amongst parents for generations. If you're a new or expecting parent and have heard the term but aren't really sure what it means or why it's beneficial, swaddling means wrapping an infant snugly in a blanket so that their arms and legs have restricted movement.
It's a great method to get your baby to sleep longer, cry less, and feel safe and secure. Newborns have the tendency to startle themselves awake with arm movements, and swaddling will help prevent that. While swaddling sounds simple in theory, it can be tricky to execute. If you're interested in becoming a pro-swaddler, read on to learn hacks for easy baby swaddling, as well as mistakes that people commonly make.
10 USE THE PROPER SIZE SWADDLE
When it comes to swaddling, size really matters. It's unsafe to use a swaddle that is too large because the material from the swaddle could potentially cover the baby's face. Also, using a swaddle that is too large makes it much trickier to get a really snug fit, which is essential to reap the benefits of swaddling.
On the other hand, if your swaddle is too small, your baby may not be able to move their legs, which is not healthy for their development.
9 KEEP HIPS AND LEGS LOOSE
While keeping a snug fit is crucial to get a decent swaddle, keep in mind that it's important not to wrap the legs and hips too tightly. You want to make sure that the legs are able to move freely in the swaddle.
8 FIND A SWADDLE THAT WORKS FOR YOU
Swaddling has been around for generations. A long time ago, there was really only one material to use to swaddle a baby: a blanket. And while you certainly can (and many parents still do) use just a blanket to swaddle your baby, today there are numerous products on the market that make swaddling a breeze.
While getting a snug, perfect swaddle with a blanket definitely takes practice, using a swaddle outfit with velcro, for example, is much easier and quicker for those 3 am fumbles in the dark.
7 GET THE TEMPERATURE JUST RIGHT
When deciding how to swaddle your baby, you want to make sure that your baby won't overheat, or on the other hand, become too cold.
Keep in mind the temperature of your home, as well as the season, when deciding what material to use for your swaddle. For example, if your baby's room is on the warm side, you don't want to use a fleece swaddle. A light muslin one may be more appropriate. Check your baby's temperature by feeling their back to gauge how warm they are.
6 PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
As with many things in life, when it comes to swaddling, practice makes perfect. As an expecting parent, a great idea is to practice swaddling before your baby arrives. Either through a parenting class or just watching YouTube videos.
And while swaddling a doll is a whole lot different from swaddling a writhing, fussy baby, at least you'll go into it with a bit of confidence. When your baby joins the picture, practice swaddling on them during the day, at a time when they aren't too tired or fussy.
5 MAKE SURE IT'S SNUG
A common mistake parents make is to not swaddle their baby tightly enough. You may be scared that if you swaddle too tightly you may harm your child. But it's important to get a good snug swaddle: if it's too loose, the baby will likely bust right out of the swaddle, or pull the material up over their face.
A nice snug swaddle will make your baby feel secure and warm.
4 ARM POSITION IS KEY
If your baby is especially squirmy, keeping them securely swaddled can be a real challenge. If they keep breaking out of their swaddle, make sure that as you wrap them, their arms are straight down by their sides.
If their arms are even slightly bent at the elbows, it will give them room to make it easier to wriggle out of the swaddle.
3 TIME IT RIGHT
Timing is important when it comes to swaddling. One mistake some parents make is to feed their baby, and then wrap them in a swaddle. This is not a great idea since post-feeding, baby may be tired and almost asleep, and starting the process of swaddling will likely rouse them.
A better technique is to swaddle first, then get on with feeding. That way, once the feeding is done you can burp them and put them right to bed.
2 KNOW WHEN TO STOP SWADDLING
It can be hard for many parents to know when they should stop swaddling their baby. Maybe you've gotten into a great swaddle-groove with your infant, but are wondering at what age you should stop. While there is no hard and fast rule, as every baby is different, most guidelines say that babies should stop being swaddled at around 3-4 months of age.
But you can also take cues from your own baby - if they are starting to break free from their swaddle every night, maybe it's time to stop.
1 DON'T GIVE UP TOO SOON
Another mistake a lot of parents make is to give up on swaddling too early. A lot of babies resist swaddling at first and make a huge fuss, so parents assume the baby hates it.
But for most babies, they will complain at first, but once they are swaddled properly, they will settle down, and start to enjoy the safe, warm feelings reminiscent of being in the womb. So don't give up, parents!