Swaddling or wrapping babies is one of those things. Some people struggle and some people can do it with their eyes closed. I was in the former group. I didn’t realise I couldn’t do it properly until it was too late and I was just too tired to learn on the job. Get some practise if you can with a friend’s baby (and sneak in some cuddles).
The benefits of getting it right are longer and more restful sleeps (by controlling the startle reflex) which will make routines more easily achievable. Swaddling is said to remind baby of the comfortable environment of the womb and how safe and secure they felt.
Swaddles come in a variety of fabrics. It’s great to have a few on hand of different material weights so you can choose an appropriate swaddle based on the temperature and what bub is wearing, but still, keep it light and avoid using blankets and bunny rugs. Even better for baby, use non-toxic materials such as organic cotton and muslin bamboo swaddles which are hypoallergenic and eco-friendly.
The benefits of getting swaddling right? Zzzzzzz
So how do you swaddle a newborn?
- Lay a bamboo or organic cotton swaddling blanket or muslin on a flat surface in the shape of a diamond
- Fold down the top corner
- Place your baby on their back with their neck/shoulders on the fold
- Hold your baby’s right arm with a slight bend, at their side.
- Pull the left corner of the swaddle over their right arm and across the chest keeping their left arm free
- Tuck it under their left arm and roll them a little to your left to wrap whatever is remaining under their back.
- Hold your baby’s left arm down, again with a slight bend
- Pull the bottom corner up over their feet and over the left shoulder. Leave enough room for your baby’s feet, knees and hips to move freely. Swaddling a baby too tight can increase the risk of overheating or developing dysplasia of the hip
- Tuck any extra material around their left arm
- Bring the loose right corner straight out to pull it taut
- Pull it across your baby’s front and roll them to your right a bit so you can wrap the corner all the way around their back
- Ensure you baby’s face is not covered.
- Practice safe sleep habits. Always place a swaddled baby on his or her back to sleep. Stop swaddling when your baby learns to roll onto their stomach.
- You can find out more information from the Red Nose website (formerly Sids and Kids)