Swaddling Newborns

swaddled newbornSwaddling 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Lay the blanket down on the floor like a diamond—point facing you.
  3. Fold the top of the diamond over about 8-10 inches.
  4. Lay the baby down with her/his neck right at the folded line.
  5. 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.
  6. Now roll the baby slightly and tuck that side of the blanket behind the baby, trapping their other arm.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

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Swaddling Newborns

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26 comments

  1. Jules says:

    I haven’t been able to successfully swaddle my son, but he is now 4 1/2 months old. I do tuck a blanket on either side of the mattress which is snug and acts like a swaddle, sometimes calming him when he needs it. You’re actually not suppose to swaddle them with their legs bound straight and tight. They’re suppose to be able to move their legs because you take a risk of hip dysplasia if you swaddle their legs too tightly.
    Not all babies do swaddling. He did okay when he was very first born, but he didn’t like his arms bound, it didn’t make him comfortable or calm or happy at all. He wanted to move them and he sleeps with his arms next to his head (like most babies). Like I said, the tucked in blanket (a thicker blanket that won’t slip out easily) into the sides of the mattress help him feel comfortable and secure just fine. =)

  2. jesster131 says:

    My son hated being swaddled. Even when the nurses did it at the hospital. They kept saying he’d calm down in a few min. He also hated sleeping on his back & would scream for hours. The first time I gave in & put him on his belly he slept for 6 hours. His doc was not thrilled with my choice but it was the only way he would sleep for more than an hour at a time. with out being in the car, his swing or on me. He was almost 3 months old.

  3. sharon says:

    my daughter has swaddled my grandson who is 4 months old now since he was newborn. He will not go to sleep unless he is swaddled ! It is amazing, he just falls asleep immediately. Problem is, “How long can you swaddle him’? He wants to turn over and does when he is awake and on his play mat. First baby and my daughter will not take my advise.

  4. Jordann :) says:

    I can’t wait to swaddle my baby boy. I hope I can do it right!

  5. katienicole says:

    i miss swaddling my daughter…glad I get to do it again in December when my other daughter will be born!!!

  6. Natasha says:

    I swaddled my daughter until she was probably almost able to crawl. My husband and I called it a savior and didn’t want to give it up. We took bets on how long we would be able to swaddle. That was the only way we could get her calm most nights. We’re expecting our 2nd child and we have receiving blankets and swaddlers on the registry because they were such a necessity before. If the traditional method doesn’t work with the blanket, there are swaddlers with velcro that can be purchased. Love them!

  7. Marilyn says:

    I can’t wait to swaddle my baby. Lol they look so cute and comfortable.

  8. Elfie says:

    My son hates to be swaddled!

  9. Mama says:

    I always though I was doing it right but my little ones always get out. Now I know to keep there arms down and there feet down. Maybe they won’t slip out the top now. Hehe and I guess I don’t need to be afraid to wrap them to tightly. 🙂 great article. Thanks

  10. Stephanie says:

    Did it fir my daughter 9yrs ago hopefully I’ll keep it in mind to try it with my son soon to be here

  11. Sara says:

    He is so squirmy that he wiggles out of every swaddle but I am not very good at it to begin with…

  12. Sara says:

    If I can learn how to swaddle really well, it should help to keep his warm when sleeping and hopefully help him to sleep well.

  13. Annette says:

    Lol it’s really pretty simple. I keep my newbie wrapped in the swaddle almost all day!! He likes it and it really does help him to sleep longer and better at night.

  14. JamJam says:

    it LOOKS simple enough…but i know its harder in real life, im goint to ask for one of those special swaddles blankets for my baby shower

  15. chandra says:

    My son loves being swaddled I will have to try it. My hospital gave us these swaddling outfits =.

  16. My daughter loves to be swaddled like this.

  17. ChrisS says:

    The 5 S’s they call it works for fussy babies!

  18. HauulaGM says:

    And gauze swaddling blankets are the best, they’re light

  19. HauulaGM says:

    Dr. Karp’s Happiest baby on the block with the five S’s are the bomb!
    Swaddle, side/stomach, sway, ssshhh, sucking
    It really works with fussy babies!

  20. Julie says:

    Love that there is step by step instructions to do this. I still don’t know if I will be able to figure this out though.

  21. malamonis says:

    thanks for step by step instructions!

  22. i feel like this will be a lifesaver

  23. i luv to swaddle my daughter cuz she sleeps all night..

  24. Chantelle says:

    No, the tighter the better. However, if it’s too loose then when the baby wiggles, the blanket may cover their mouth or nose.

  25. KendreOsment says:

    WONT IT SMOHER HER???

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