For childfree people, the idea of wrapping up a baby to the point that they cannot move their arms may sound like a weird practice but parents know all too well that their little ones usually get comforted by it, leading to the newborn sleeping better, longer and crying much less.
It’s definitely a really useful thing to do, all the while being a rather simple concept!
All you have to do is wrap a comfy cloth around the infant tightly enough so they cannot wiggle out but not too much to cause them discomfort or affect their breathing, of course.
Dr. Jen Trachtenberg, a board-certified pediatrician, says that “Newborns have reflexes for the first months that make their arms move. They can startle themselves and wake up, so by having them inside a swaddle, it keeps them calmer for longer and less likely to wake themselves up by flailing their arms.”
Here are some of the best reasons why swaddling is so great:
– As mentioned before, newborns tend to feel comforted and calm since it offers them a tight, womb-like environment.
– It prevents their startle reflex from waking them up in the middle of the night as their arms remain in position by their sides at all times.
– They are kept warm without any loose blankets being involved, which is a good thing since those can be a suffocation hazard.
Do all babies need to be swaddled?
Usually, swaddling is recommended for all newborns and is also safe for them, so there is no reason to worry.
However, keep in mind that if the little one has hip issues such as hip dysplasia, swaddling them might aggravate it.
As a result, you should probably check with a pediatrician before starting to swaddle your baby, just to make sure it’s not hurting them.
At the same time, while it’s usually comforting for babies to be swaddled, some of them just don’t like it, in which case you should probably not force them into one.
Some of them like only their torso to be swaddled but would rather have their arms free so they will cry and scream until they get their way.
Of course, there are also some situations where they will protest it at first for a bit due to not being used to being constrained like that but will eventually grow to really like it.
In other words, if it doesn’t upset them too much, stick with it until they start being comforted by the swaddling feeling.
Besides, swaddling can really give busy parents longer stretches of sleep, which is obviously great for you!
How to Swaddle
Truth be told, swaddling may take a little practice, especially if you are using a traditional swaddle blanket.
So What Type of Swaddle Is Best?
If that does not sound like fun, you will be pleased to find out that there is another option as well.
As mentioned before, the first type of swaddle you may encounter is a traditional swaddle blanket.
– Traditional swaddle blankets are large and thin blankets that will allow you to wrap up your newborn burrito-style and can be used for other things as well when your baby becomes too old for swaddling. While that makes them more useful in the long run, there is definitely a learning curve involved so keep that in mind.
The second type of swaddle is known as swaddle sacks or two-in-one swaddles.
– Two-in-one swaddles are the easier to navigate of the two, especially for new, first time parents who are struggling to figure it all out. They make swaddling much simpler and often come with useful features such as snaps, zippers, Velcro and more, in order to help with the swaddling process, providing a snug fit. Depending on the product, the baby’s arms can either go up, down, or out, as required by your little one’s preference and comfort levels.
Dr. Trachtenberg explains that “Swaddle blankets and sacks with fasteners, or snaps and zippers are much easier to use, especially when parents are really tired at night.”
So if you are wondering which type of swaddle is best, the answer is very simple – it all depends on you and your baby!
It can be a good idea to get a couple of different swaddles and try them out to properly figure out which one your baby favors.
When to Stop Swaddling
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends stopping swaddling your bundle of joy as soon as they start trying to roll over.
This is something that can happen at any point over the age of two months, so pay close attention to the signs.
“Baby can be swaddled until around two to three months, but be sure to stop if the baby has started to roll over and always place them on their back while swaddled,” says Dr. Trachtenberg.
Many parents tend to start using a sleep sack after that, but it’s true that it can be a little jarring to switch from a swaddle to a looser sleep sack all of a sudden.
With that being said, a good solution is a swaddle transition – a wearable blanket designed to let leave the baby’s arms free while still providing the coziness of a snug swaddle.
Can a Baby Be Swaddled too Tightly?
While some parents may think the tighter the bundle, the better, this is not actually true.
Dr. Trachtenberg says that “When swaddling, it is important that the baby’s legs are not stretched out straight and also wrapped too tightly, as this can cause problems with their developing hips. Make sure the legs and hips are able to bend and move a bit.”
Other Important Things to Consider When Picking a Swaddle
– Age – newborns can be swaddled from their first day in this world, but it’s still important to know that some swaddles, especially swaddle bags, come with a suitable age warning, so it’s indicated to follow it.
– Materials – make sure the material the swaddle is made out of is breathable such as bamboo or cotton. This way, they won’t overheat and make your baby super uncomfortable and sweaty.
– Size – The swaddle should be large enough so that when you wrap the fabric around the little one, it’s never too tight. Thankfully, most shaped swaddles come in different sizes, so you can choose based on your bundle of joy’s weight and age.
– Care instructions – while most are machine washable, there are also some that need special care, like a cold wash if they are made with natural fibers or for other similar reasons.
Safety Advice from Experts
Sleep consultant Maria Murphy and Kate Holmes, Head of Support and Infomation at Lullaby Trust recommend the following to make sure your baby remains safe while swaddled:
– Make sure your baby sleeps on their back.
– If the baby starts trying to roll over, stop swaddling with their arms wrapped up inside.
– Don’t overdress your little one so as not to overheat them.
– Ensure that their head is not covered.
– Stop swaddling if they have a fever or an infection.
– Check their temperature in general just to make sure they’re not too hot while in the swaddle.
– Don’t swaddle their hips too tightly.
– Make sure the swaddle is secure enough so as to not unravel during sleep and cause a suffocating hazard.
– Do not swaddle above their shoulders.
Now that you know pretty much everything you need to know about swaddles, the process of swaddling and the safety precautions you should take, here are some of the best swaddles on the market in no particular order!
Just check them out and pick the one best for you and your little one!
HALO 100% Cotton Sleepsack Swaddle
The HALO 100% Cotton Sleepsack Swaddle comes with Velcro wings and a zipper which makes swaddling as simple as possible for new parents!
It zips from the bottom up as well, allowing for easy and quick diaper changes.
As opposed to typical swaddles, this style is looser around the baby’s legs and also provides a number of different options for their arms.
For instance, you can even leave them the arms out and just fasten the wings around their waist instead.
This is also a great way of transitioning them out of swaddles when the time comes.
The only thing you might want to consider is that the Velcro, while it makes swaddling easy and quick, can also be really loud, sometimes startling the sleeping baby.
Large Premium Knit Baby Swaddle Receiving Blanket “Camel” by Copper Pearl
The Large Premium Knit Baby Swaddle Receiving Blanket “Camel” by Copper Pearl is made out of polyester/rayon knit blend, a great fabric if you want to achieve that perfectly snug swaddle that is neither too tight nor too stretchy.
Furthermore, they are soft, oversized and come in some of the most exciting colors and prints available on the market.
In the early days of your little one’s life, these types of swaddles are much better than muslin swaddle blankets since they are stretchy, making them both easier to put on as well as more secure.
SwaddleMe Original Swaddle 3-Pack
The SwaddleMe Original Swaddle is a rather simple pouch with fabric wings that will keep your bundle of joy all snug just like when they were still in the womb.
Furthermore, since they come in a three pack, it will be a purchase that will provide you with all the backup you need!
Just keep in mind that there is no zipper so you will have no choice but to undo the swaddle if your little one needs a change in the middle of the night which might lead to them waking up.
Aden + Anais Swaddle Blanket, Boutique Muslin Blankets for Girls & Boys
The Aden + Anais Swaddle Blanket is well known for the lightweight, soft fabric that is super resistant to multiple washes, looking and feeling just like new for a long time!
Not only that but it is also super versatile, allowing you to use it long after the burrito phase.
After all, this blanket can also be used as a nursing cover, a burping cloth, a playmat as well as something to provide some extra shade when draped over the baby stroller or a car seat.
Thanks to all the adorable print options, this can also make for a great Baby Shower gift for future parents in your life.
Before purchasing this product however, keep in mind that there are no zippers or Velcro closures to make the swaddling easier on you.
However, it’s not that hard to get the hang of it and once you do, things will feel rather simple even in the middle of the night!
Furthermore, the fabric allows for a little wiggle room for the baby to move their arms inside the swaddle which is either good or bad depending on the parents’ preferences.
After all, some feel like it’s good for them to be able to move a little bit while others are worried their little ones, if determined enough, can end up breaking free from the swaddle.
Miracle Blanket Swaddle Wrap
The Miracle Blanket Swaddle Wrap is soft and super cozy, keeping your baby swaddled up and secure whether you want them with their arms up or down.
However, just keep in mind that for new parents, it may be a bit of a struggle to get your little one in it at first.
Still, this is the ideal choice for parents with babies that tend to move around a lot, managing to get out of pretty much any swaddled.
Well, it’s time to stop worrying about that since this product has a foot pouch meant to contain the legs while still allowing the right amount of freedom of movement.
And getting your bundle of joy, well, all bundled up, while a little hard at first, can be mastered after a few tries so there is no reason to worry too much about that.
This swaddle is made out of 100% cotton that will retain its softness no matter how many times you wash it.
Love to Dream Swaddle Up
The Love to Dream Swaddle Up is designed in such a way that it allows babies to sleep with their arms up without any problem which is great since many infants love this position.
One small con to take into consideration is that this product does not come in many color options.
It is made out of cozy and soft cotton that features just enough stretch to allow a little bit of movement while still keeping the bundle of joy swaddled up during sleep in order to minimize startle reflex wake-ups in the middle of the night.
The Ergobaby Swaddler is lightweight and simple to use.
This is made by a popular baby carrier company so you know you can trust this swaddle blanket for your little one.
One great advantage is that it features a Healthy Hip Positioner that helps encourage the “frog leg” position, which is widely considered to be the best position for infants’ developing hips.
To make diaper changes easier, the bottom piece can be removed or even left out entirely during those hot summer nights.
Woombie Convertible Baby Swaddle
The Woombie Convertible Baby Swaddle features a two-way zipper and you can use it with the arms either in or out.
It is breathable but still secure and has a slight hourglass shape in order to provide some gentle pressure around the little one’s belly as a way to replicate the comforting feeling of being inside the womb.
It is great for new parents since it is super easy to use either as a traditional swaddle with the arms wrapped or as a sort of wearable blanket with the arms out.
Anna and Eve Baby Swaddle Strap
The Anna and Eve Baby Swaddle Strap is really soft and can be used over clothes so you won’t have to change the infant before every nap.
It is simple to put on and take off as well, an ideal product for the less experienced parents.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that the Velcro can be a little loud and might end up waking up your baby while you swaddle them up.
Furthermore, rather than this being a blanket, it is more of a strap made to hold the baby’s arms in place while leaving the legs free.
The inner portion is meant to go over the baby’s waist and there are also two tiny cushions that go over the arms before the outer strap gets secured as well.
This is a simple design that keeps the little ones from overheating during naps, the legs being out in a comfortable position to support the healthy development of their hips.
Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit
The Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit is made out of a really soft material that works like magic, as far as many happy parents are concerned.
One thing to keep in mind is that this swaddle tends to run a little small and it does not come with mittens or footies.
Technically, this is not exactly a swaddle but more of a tool that parents can use when their little ones are ready to transition from being swaddled and have their arms freed but before they can properly roll over by themselves.
Still, just like a swaddle, this Magic Sleep Suit provides light compression around the baby’s tiny body while leaving the arms exposed.
Just make sure to no longer use this product once the infant shows signs of trying to roll over.
ErgoPouch Cocoon Swaddle
The ErgoPouch Cocoon Swaddle can be used since birth and is made out of OTS organic cotton, bamboo viscose and elastane.
It can be washed in the washing machine as long as you use cold water and a gentle setting.
If you are looking for a sleeping bag with a little more structure that also provides the benefits of swaddling, this is most likely the perfect pick for you and your bundle of joy.
It is designed with a straightforward zip-up design and to make things even simpler, when your baby is ready to sleep with their arms out, you can just unfasten the poppers and done!
This product also has a well-thought out ergonomic design which includes the generous bell shaped bottom design of the sack that provides more than enough room for the little one to sleep in a more natural frog-like position.
The materials used are organic cotton and bamboo and they not only make for a stretchy but still secure swaddle you can trust, but they are also super gentle even on the skin of newborns.
It features zip-up fastening which makes the whole process super easy even while the baby is asleep, and the arms are removable.
Love to Dream Swaddle UP 50/50
The Love to Dream Swaddle UP 50/50 is a great option if you are looking for a good transition swaddle.
All you have to do is zip off one wing at a time, which allows your little one to slowly adapt to arms free sleeping.
It is recommended for use between 3 and 6 months of age.
This sack is made out of 93% cotton and 7% elastane and can be washed in the washing machine without any special treatment.