Have a crying and grizzling newborn, who continually flings their arms about? Learn how to swaddle a baby using the traditional method, plus what your modern swaddle options are, to help your baby to settle quickly and sleep longer.
You may have learnt how to swaddle a baby at prenatal classes, which is awesome. When reality hits and you’ve got a screaming wriggling baby instead of a plastic doll, things are slightly different though.
Many parents rank learning how to swaddle a baby as one of the most difficult things they need to learn. They also say it is one of the most effective strategies at calming a distressed baby three months and under. It also helps prevent a baby’s arms from jerking upwards in what is called the startle reflex – or the big wake-up problem!
Beginners Guide On How to Swaddle a Baby
Back in the good old days, cotton or muslin swaddles were used to wrap babies up at naptime. Grandma would place baby on their back on top of the swaddle, then put their little arms inside and wrap the sides over the top. A few tucks, some adjustments and it’s all done; a newborn safe and snug ready for dreamland.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well, yes and no. It is once you know how to do it, but it is something that requires a lot of practice. If you have chosen to use a traditional swaddle, here are our step by step instructions on how to swaddle a baby:
- Choose a large enough wrap which does have some stretch in it. A 47x47 inch muslin swaddle is ideal.
- Place the swaddle on a flat surface, and then fold the top corner down around six inches.
- Lay your baby on their back, with their head above the folded corner and legs extended down to the bottom corner.
- Wrap the left side of the swaddle over baby’s left straight arm and tuck it under their other arm and back.
- Fold the bottom corner of the swaddle up and under the fold of the left side you’ve just done (this should be under chin level).
- Fold the right side of the swaddle over baby’s straight right arm and over the chest, all the way under the left side of their back.
It is important to check that there is nothing over the baby’s face and that the swaddle is not too tight. You should be able to get around three fingers between the swaddle and your baby’s chest. It is also important to remember that this should only be used with baby’s three months and under. This is because older babies can roll over and this makes swaddling unsafe. Make sure that baby is not too hot by checking their skin with your fingers. It should be warm, but not sweaty and hot.
If this sounds all too tricky for you to master, you may want to consider some of the amazing baby swaddles which do the job for you. The Miracle Blanket is a firm favourite amongst many parents, as is the Swaddle Up. But wait, there’s more because there are also some swaddle type sleeping bags which can be used by babies older than three months!
If you have any questions or want personalised help in choosing the swaddle best for your bubs, please get in touch; we’d love to chat!