If your swaddling game is not strong, it will not work effectively because the baby will break out of it and it won’t be snug enough to create that secure feeling. Swaddling is effective and most essential for babies in their first couple of months of life. After this time, they are able to transition to hands-free sleeping, without the startle reflex happening as often. Below we will cover a few of the basic and a couple of pro tips for how to swaddle a baby effectively.
1. Fabric matters
How to swaddle a baby will be weather dependent. Over the summer months a comfortable swaddle is best achieved using a light, breathable fabric like muslin. Muslin also has a slight stretchiness to it making it particularly good for a swaddle. During colder months you’ll want to stick with classic flannel. Thin but warm, flannel is a great option that, when combined with pajamas, is often enough to keep the baby warm at night. If you have an older home that’s a bit cooler than average in winter, consider combining your swaddle with a sleep sack.
Learning how to swaddle a baby should start with the basic concept of a swaddle. It is achieved by laying out the receiving blanket flat and folding one corner down. You want to get as close to a triangle as possible, without baby’s feet coming out of the bottom of the swaddle. The edge of the folded-down side is where you want to place your baby’s shoulders. Once baby is in position, it’s a simple matter of pulling one side of the triangle over and across baby’s chest and tucking it behind their back. Then you take the bottom corner at the baby’s feet and pull it up over their abdomen. Using the last corner, you will pull across the baby’s chest again, effectively locking the other two folds in place, and tucking it under the baby.
3. Pro Tip 1
As you learn how to swaddle a baby, you may find that your baby is a bit of an escape artist with their hands, or that you aren’t getting that snug fit a swaddle is supposed to have. Try this: On your first fold across the chest, let’s say the right side, make sure baby’s right arm is straight. Pull the fabric taught and rather than trying to tuck it around and under baby’s left arm, lift their left arm and lift or tilt baby slightly to the right. This will allow you to get the fabric taught and place it firmly around and under baby’s back. The left arm should not get into this first fold.
4. Pro Tip 2
Twisting the bottom of the receiving blanket before you pull it up to their stomach is a good way to keep the feet warm and prevent them from loosening the swaddle through regular shifting.
5. Let’s just cheat!
Several baby brands have created a pre-made swaddle, which literally removes the need for learning how to swaddle a baby. It is a cocoon shaped piece of fabric with a long flap and Velcro. You simply slide the baby in, pull the flap taught and smooth over the Velcro.