Every new parent should learn how to swaddle. Swaddling calms fussy babies and helps them to sleep longer and to stay on their backs, reducing the risk of SIDS. Plus, it creates a bedtime cue that’s easy for mom, dad, grandma or babysitter to recreate anywhere.
Don’t be intimidated. Anyone can swaddle. If you’re pregnant, plan to ask your nurse or a relative to show you how to swaddle your newborn. There’s nothing better than learning in person. If you don’t have a good teacher, take 6 minutes to watch this YouTube video: Swaddling Methods. The video very clearly teaches two methods of swaddling, the “basic” method (which is the one I always used) and the Aussie method (which is ideal for older babies). Showing real babies being swaddled and demonstrating with a doll, this video is the clearest, most helpful tutorial I’ve found.
When swaddling is not working, you’ve probably either used the wrong type of blanket or are wrapping too loosely. First of all, get the right blanket. A good swaddling blanket is large and square. Many receiving blankets are 40″ square, which will swaddle a newborn. For a larger baby, you need a larger blanket. Buy large 47″ square receiving blankets, which can swaddle a newborn and a 10 month old. A good swaddling blanket is also thin and stretchy. It should be thin, because a thick blanket will not tuck in securely. It should be stretchy so that you can make a tight swaddle, without making baby uncomfortable. I really loved using my Aden & Anais swaddling blankets. Now we also offer an organic version that’s cut in the same ideal dimensions. Having the right blanket makes it easier to swaddle tightly. A swaddled baby should look like a little burrito!
Nervous that baby will overheat? With what we know about SIDS, you’re right to be concerned about swaddling baby in a warm blanket. But, an ideal swaddling blanket is thin, remember? Those made of cotton muslin are extremely breathable. Whether it’s summer or winter, dress baby as the weather requires and swaddle, knowing that the blanket adds little additional heat. If your baby’s ears are hot or red, or if she’s sweating, unwrap her and remove her clothing. Then, re-swaddle in just a diaper!
Swaddling does take practice. But, in a few days you’ll be able to swaddle like a pro. Dads, especially, are often superb swaddlers. They don’t shy away from pulling that blanket tight!