3 techniques on how to swaddle a baby
Most babies love to be swaddled as it’s thought to replicate the strong sense of security that was felt within the womb. But many new parents struggle with perfecting the swaddling technique. In order for it to be comfortable and safe, it needs to be wrapped snugly around your baby, whilst ensuring there is still space for some movement and airflow. When swaddling your little one, you should leave just enough room to slide your hand between the material and baby’s chest to make sure they’re not wrapped too tightly.
Studies have shown that swaddling improves the quality of a newborn’s sleep as they feel more relaxed. Although it is a proven way to help most little ones to sleep better, please be advised that some babies may not like being swaddled - trust your parenting intuitive on this and everything will be fine.
Different types of swaddling can be used depending on your little one’s needs, which often change during the first few weeks as months as they grow and develop. Here, we look at three of the most popular techniques and show you the steps towards a better night’s sleep.
1. The ‘hands up swaddle’
For very young babies (the first couple of weeks), it’s best to go for a swaddle that keeps their arms and legs in a natural position and doesn’t forcefully stretch them out before they are ready. The ‘hands up swaddle’ keeps a baby’s hands near their face and their legs in the frog position. This swaddling technique is perfect until your baby is ready to start stretching out, which is when you can move onto a different position.
How to create the ‘hands up swaddle’
Step 1 - place your muslin on a flat surface and make sure it’s big enough to cover the whole of your baby
Step 2 - take one corner and fold down approximately the length of your baby’s body from neck to bum. You will end up with almost a triangle shape.
Step 3 - tuck baby’s left hand underneath the fold that you’ve made, then wrap that side across their body and tuck underneath them.
Step 4 - fold up the bottom of the muslin and tuck just the tip of the corner into the top of the swaddle. Make sure there is enough room at the bottom for their legs to move about in the frog position.
Step 5 - then tuck baby’s right hand underneath the fold (ensuring their hands are next to their face) and fold the right-hand side across the baby’s body. You should see a ‘V’ shape underneath their chin.
Step 6 - finally, wrap the right side all the way underneath, tucking the end of the corner into the front of the swaddle.
2. The ‘burrito wrap’
As if your baby wasn’t yummy enough with their chubby cheeks and chunky thighs, now you can turn them into a little burrito. This popular swaddling technique works perfectly for a larger square or rectangular blanket and is one of the easiest types of swaddling to master.
How to create the ‘burrito wrap’
Step 1 - place the blanket on a flat surface and ensure that it is large enough to cover the baby’s whole body - we suggest a size of approximately 43 x 43 inches.
Step 2 - fold one corner down about 4 inches, giving you a rough diamond shape.
Step 3 - place your baby on their back with the top line of the diamond just above their neck.
Step 4 - tuck your baby’s hands underneath the fold of the muslin swaddle, so that they are placed by their shoulders or face. Alternatively, you can leave their arms out and tuck the swaddle underneath their armpits instead (this is ideal for older babies).
Step 5 - take the right side of the muslin across their body and tuck underneath their left side.
Step 6 - fold the bottom tail of the blanket upwards towards the baby’s head and securely tuck into the top right side of the fold.
Step 7 - finally, take the left side and wrap it across their body and tuck underneath them on the right-hand side.
3. The ‘simple swaddle’
Once your baby is a little bigger and starting to develop their motor skills, you can move onto a simpler swaddling technique, designed to keep their hands neatly tucked away. Their new-found motor skills will mean they experience flailing limbs (much like us when we sleep), meaning they can wake themselves up with the movements. This swaddle is quick and easy to do, and more importantly, will keep them secure and sleeping.
How to create the ‘simple swaddle’
Step 1 - place a large square muslin flat and fold one corner approximately a hand length downwards.
Step 2 - place your baby face-up on the muslin with the top of the fold just above their neckline. Put their left arm down by their side and take the left side of the muslin across their body and tuck underneath.
Step 3 - repeat this process for the right-hand side of your baby
Step 4 - finally, fold the bottom of the muslin upwards and either tuck in the top or tuck each side underneath your little one.
If none of these swaddling techniques seems to work for you or your baby, we created our Swaddle & Sleeping Bags to make life simpler. Its practical design prevents your little one from rolling over but it will still keep them feeling safe and secure.