For new parents, learning to swaddle a baby can seem like a futile effort when the little tike breaks free in only minutes. While nurses make it look easy having mastered their technique, the key is knowing that swaddling is one of the secrets to a happy, calm baby.
Swaddling is an ancient method for wrapping newborns in a thin blanket or cloth, which resembles the mother’s womb and helps soothe newborns. Swaddling helps prevent baby from flailing their arms and legs, which can potentially cause them to wake up. A swaddle also keeps baby cozy and warm until they can regulate their internal temperature on their own.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that when done correctly, swaddling can be an effective technique to help calm infants and promote safe sleep. But figuring out how to do it yourself can be a little intimidating, especially when you’re lacking sufficient rest.
If you plan to swaddle your infant at home, AAP recommends you follow these guidelines to make sure you are doing it safely.
Step 1: Find a flat surface.
Spread the blanket out flat in the shape of a diamond, with the top corner folded down.
Step 2: Place baby face-up on the blanket.
Baby’s head should sit above the folded edge of the blanket, and their body should extend straight down toward the bottom corner.
Step 3: Straighten baby’s left arm.
Wrap the left corner of the blanket over baby’s body and tuck it between the right arm and the right side of their body.
Step 4: Tuck the right arm down.
Fold the right corner of the blanket over baby’s body and under the left side of their body.
Step 5: Secure the blanket.
Loosely twist the bottom of the blanket and tuck it underneath your baby.
The swaddle should be snug, but not too tight as babies may develop a problem with their hips. You should be able to place two to three fingers between your baby’s chest and the blanket, and the blanket should be loose around her hips so she can move her legs freely.
To reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) it’s important to place your baby on their back every time you put them to sleep.
Parents should stop swaddling as soon as their baby shows any signs of trying to roll over. Many babies start working on rolling at around 2 months of age.