How to Swaddle a Baby

Should you swaddle your newborn? 

Such a great question! Let’s start with the basics. 

First things first, what is swaddling, and why is so popular?

Swaddling a baby has been around for hundreds of years and has seen a resurgence in popularity over the last twenty years.  Swaddling is beneficial to your baby’s physical and emotional well-being as in the swaddle, it recreates the feeling they had in the womb where they felt calm and snug. 

When an infant has the freedom to move their arms and legs around, it can be overwhelming to them. They do not realize what their arms and legs are quite yet, or what they are used for, and can feel a little bit overwhelmed. 

Being an Infant is exhausting. Your baby is trying to adapt to everything as it is new to them. Their coping mechanisms are sleeping, eating, expelling everything they eat from one or both ends at a time, and sleeping some more. 

A swaddle soothes and relaxes them which helps you get a little sleep, too, as this stage is the hardest to get through yourself having just given birth, and lack of sleep as you both navigate the first month or two of baby’s life. 

When to begin to swaddle

As soon as your baby is born, to around 8-12 weeks max is optimal swaddle time. It is essential to a newborn as they crave their womb and the warm, cozy feeling it created. If you have ever noticed your baby jerk awake, or look startled, it is from an involuntary action called The Moro Reflex. Swaddling can help prevent them from awakening fully and even reduce the Moro motions. 

After 8-12 weeks, and no further, it is time to stop the swaddle. If you noticed your baby trying to roll over on their side, rock back and forth, or move their arms and hands freely, discontinue the swaddle so it does not become a safety hazard to them. By three months of age, your baby has grown accustomed to their hands and feet and are learning how to use them. They also enjoy feeling able to roll over, scooch around or begin to hold onto items. The Moro Reflex is still present, but not as strong. 

Swaddle options: how do I choose? 

Like all baby-related items, there are a lot of choices when it comes to choosing a swaddle. Friends, family, and mom groups are a great resource if you like researching what others use, or deciding for yourself and your baby, what swaddle for the two of you. 

Finding the right swaddle is similar to finding the right bottle. Try to have several options available before baby is even born. What your friend’s baby liked, might not be the same for your baby.

There is a lot of research that shows swaddling is beneficial to your baby, and a lot of positive reinforcement is behind the theory of swaddling. As with anything we do for our child, there will be a variety of opinions on swaddling a baby. Remember this is your decision, you should never feel like you must defend or justify anything you choose to do to your baby. 

DUDU: the 4 steps to becoming a swaddle like a pro

D: Down

  • Placing your swaddle on a comfortable and sturdy surface, arrange the swaddle like a diamond. Fold the top corner down so it reaches near the center of the swaddle. 
  • Place your baby on the swaddle with their neck above the top fold.
  • Holding their arm down at their right side, grab the blanket four inches from their right shoulder. 
  • Pull snugly down and across the body. 
  • Tuck under the left buttock. 
  • Grab the free blanket that is next to their left shoulder and pull tightly to remove any slack. 
  • The right arm should now be straight and snug against their side. 

You are not hurting your baby. If they cry out, or fuss, it’s because they are just a little startled by the motions. 

U: Up

  • Place the left arm firmly at their side and bring the bottom corner up to the left shoulder. 
  • Tuck the edge of the blanket snugly around the left arm. 
  • Pull any slack from the swaddle by pulling it tightly and straight out. 

By now, both arms should be very straight and snug in the swaddle.

D: Down

  • Pull the blanket from the left shoulder down a tiny bit. The small flap should meet at the center of the chest, no further, to form the other half, creating a V-neck appearance. 

U: Up

  • Holding your finger on the last motion you made, place the remaining loose swaddle corner and pull it straight out, away from the body, to remove any slack. 
  • In one motion, lift that corner up, and straight across the forearms like a belt. 
  • The swaddle should be long enough that it can reach all the way around the body, to snug, it tightly around the front “belt” area.

Once you try this a couple of times, then the down, up, down, up (DUDU) technique will become second nature to you. 

One thing to note, it is important to swaddle your baby with their arms down at their sides and not crossed over one another. That could cause pain, irritation, bunching of the swaddle, or injury. 

Here at Rocky Mountain Sleeping Baby, it is our mission to share all the tips, tricks, and information our certified sleep experts use in our sleep training programs. We hope that what we shared today was beneficial to you and should you have questions, comments, or would like to schedule a consultation, give us a call, send us an email or fill out the form on our website and one of our consultants will get in touch with you. 

We are sleep consultants located in Denver, Kansas City, and, Ft Worth. However, everything we do is virtual so we are able to help families all over the world. 

Reach out today to see how we can help your family!

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