Swaddling your newborn isn’t nearly as easy as the nurses in the hospital make it out to be. It looks easy, you watch, and you might even do it yourself with a little coaching, but when you come home, it doesn’t work. They wiggle their little arms and legs out of their cocoon in five seconds flat. Who knew newborns were so strong?
But newborns love being swaddled. It may seem as though they are fighting it—that their little limbs want freedom, but a snug wrap around them helps them feel secure, as if they’re still in the womb. And it also helps them sleep and relax.
So, how do you swaddle a newborn? You may be afraid of hurting them, and you may make them too loose. It’s an art. I’m going to defer to my husband, Ryan. He was the swaddling expert in our household. Here’s what he told me:
- Make sure you have a good blanket. Thin works well. Some receiving blankets are good, some are too small. Remember to take the one they give you at the hospital and see if you can steal a few more of those.
- Lay the blanket down on the floor like a diamond—point facing you.
- Fold the top of the diamond over about 8-10 inches.
- Lay the baby down with her/his neck right at the folded line.
- This part is tricky and crucial: place one hand over the baby, holding down her/his arms straight to her/his side and the other hand brings one side of the blanket and pulls it tight, trapping one arm to their side.
- Now roll the baby slightly and tuck that side of the blanket behind the baby, trapping their other arm.
- Roll the baby back, and take the bottom of the blanket—the point that’s nearest to you—and fold it up. Make sure the baby’s legs are straight and not all scrunched up. The point of that blanket should be tucked in near the neck, if it’s long enough, or just left to the side.
- Now take the other side of the blanket and wrap it around the baby—tight. The tighter, the better. You won’t hurt her/him. It’s just a blanket.
- The baby may seem irritated at first, but wait a minute or two and they’ll be happy. Well, unless they’re hungry, wet, over-tired, etc.