Swaddling your baby, – does that seem weird to you?
It sure did to me before I had my first child. I thought that swaddling a baby was something that parents did back in the 18th century or so. And, of course, they did, but to some extent for other reasons.
The truth is; many newborn babies love being swaddled! Want to know why that is and how to do it? Read on! Another common question is when and how to stop swaddling when the time comes. You get tips on that too here.
Your Guide to Swaddling Your Baby
Why swaddling your baby
Swaddling a baby today is not to prevent crooked legs (completely unnecessary for that) but to make your baby feel calm and safe. The crooked legs reason was something parents believed in many years ago.
During their first one or two months of living, babies go through a huge adaptation from life inside to outside the womb.
Think of it, in the womb, it was dark, warm, and narrow. In the “real” world, it is light, much colder, and airy. Scary!! In addition, babies haven’t yet learned how to control their limbs (or even realizing that the things flying back and forth in front of their eyes are actually their hands…).
When to swaddle a baby
Swaddling your baby is the most appropriate for really young infants, maybe during their first and second month of living. After that, they may just be frustrated by their immobility. You’ll notice by your baby’s reactions if he likes it or not.
Here are rough rules of time to when to swaddle your baby:
- When newborn during the very first couple of weeks, you can swaddle your baby both when awake and for sleep – but not all the time, of course!
- At around 1-month-old, you should stop swaddling your baby while awake. It is time to start practicing mobility and strength – not easy while being swaddled!
- At around six weeks old, you should release at least one arm, so that the baby can put the hand in his or her mouth for self-soothing.
- For naps and night sleep, you can swaddle your baby (except for at least one arm when older than six weeks) for as long as the baby likes it. Some babies won’t settle without a nice swaddle even when approaching their first birthday! But long before that, both arms should definitely be released!
How to swaddle your baby
- Put a soft cotton blanket on a flat surface and fold down the top corner a little bit.
- Put the baby in the middle of the blanket, with his head on the fold.
- Wrap the right part of the blanket over the baby and tug it under his back beneath his left arm.
- Then take the left corner and wrap it over your baby and tuck it under his back on his right side.
- If you want one or both of your baby’s arms to be free, just swaddle him the same way, but under the arm(s).
- Don’t swaddle your baby too tightly; it’s supposed to be cozy, not claustrophobic!
If this sounds difficult, there are now super practical and super cute swaddlers on the market; check out this one from SwaddleMe, for example.
If using it, you don’t need to learn how to swaddle the old-fashioned way. Just put your baby in and zip it. Really brilliant!
Here is a video clip showing how to swaddle a baby if you want to try it out:
How and when to stop swaddling your baby
While there are no specific reasons you have to stop swaddling your baby, many parents experience that by the time their infants start learning how to roll over; the swaddling becomes quite hard on the nerves. One thing you don’t want is your baby to roll over from back to belly, swaddled, and face down…
While I don’t think there are any known cases of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) due to swaddling, the thought is still quite scary. An easy way to prevent this is to start swaddling your baby with his hands free to move early. Also, wrap him up quite loosely.
This way, as your baby starts to become more mobile you can gradually loosen the swaddling even more, and when it suits you, you can stop the swaddling altogether.
Just as with any other routine, babies can get very used to swaddling to be able to go asleep, and if you want to stop the swaddling, the best way to go is to go slowly and gradually! For some babies, transiting from a swaddle to a sleeping bag, such as Halo or Grobag, is easier than to just a pajama and maybe a blanket. (It’s safer than a blanket too.)
Good luck and sweet dreams! And do share your thought on swaddling a baby by leaving a comment below! :-)
And please visit my Baby Sleep Section to many more practical baby sleep tips! :-)