Why Is Swaddling So Effing Hard?! We're comin' in hot with the hacks.

By Babe | Photo by Stocksy

Swaddling – can’t live with it, can’t live without it, am I right? By definition, swaddling is a technique where a baby is wrapped super snugly in a blanket or a cloth. It’s a great way to keep a newborn warm, cozy, and comfortable. Because babies are so used to being tight in the womb, swaddling mimics that experience by keeping their limbs firmly in place (Arms are chaotic!). Swaddling can also help calm a fussy baby and promote better sleep.

But, unless you’re a postpartum nurse or burrito chef, swaddling can be super hard! Most parents make constant mistakes when trying. So we scoured the internet to bring you the seven best hacks for swaddling, and the most common swaddling mistakes to avoid.

First Things First — Why Swaddle?

Whether you’re a first-time mom or a seasoned pro, you may have wondered why we even swaddle babies in the first place. As it turns out, the answer is pretty simple.

By mimicking the cozy environment of the womb, baby swaddling provides comfort and security to newborn babies, helping them sleep better and cry less. It also helps your baby sleep better, reduces the startle reflex, and assists in maintaining a stable body temperature. 

Moreover, swaddling encourages parents to bond with their little ones and fosters a sense of calmness during those early months of parenthood. Remember, always follow safe swaddling guidelines to ensure your baby’s well-being.

This means leaving loose blankets and plushies out of the bassinet while your baby is sleeping and using a baby monitor to help keep your baby safe.

The 7 Best Hacks for Swaddling a Baby

Now let’s dig into the baby swaddling hacks you’ve been waiting for:

1. Swaddle Selection

Not all swaddle blankets are created equal. To prevent overheating, pick a breathable fabric like muslin. It helps regulate your baby’s temperature, keeping them comfortable and potentially reducing the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). After all, maintaining an appropriate body temperature is crucial for safe sleep.

2. The Goldilocks Principle

For the perfect swaddle, the baby’s body should be wrapped just right — not too tight, not too loose. Wrapping too tightly could lead to hip dysplasia, while a loose swaddle can come undone, turning the blanket into a potential suffocation hazard. You should be able to slide a hand between the baby’s chest and the swaddle blanket.

3. How To Swaddle (the Easy Way)

Sometimes, it’s all about how you start. To set yourself up for success, follow these steps:

  • Start with a square blanket and fold the top corner down to form a triangle.
  • Place your baby face-up on the blanket, their head above the folded corner.
  • Gently place your baby’s right arm alongside their body, slightly bent.
  • Take the right side of the blanket and pull it securely across your baby’s chest. Tuck the right corner under the baby’s left side.
  • Lift the bottom corner up and over the baby’s feet, tucking it into the first wrap at the top of the baby’s chest.
  • Lower the baby’s left arm.
  • Take the left side of the blanket, and bring it across the baby’s chest.
  • Tuck the left corner under the baby’s back to secure the swaddle.

Remember, practice makes perfect. Don’t be discouraged if your first few attempts don’t go as smoothly as you’d like. Keep at it, and you’ll soon be a swaddling pro!

4. Try a Sleep Sack

If your little burrito keeps breaking free, it might be time to swap your swaddle blanket for a sleep sack or a wearable blanket. Look for the ones with Velcro for a more secure swaddle.

5. Tag Team Swaddling

If you’re parenting with a partner, turn swaddling into a team sport. One person can hold the baby in place while the other does the wrapping. This approach not only makes the process easier but can also be a fun bonding moment for both parents.

6. Master the Quick Change

Dirty diapers and swaddling don’t mix, but sometimes you’ll need to change a diaper in the middle of the night without fully unwrapping your baby. Practice changing a diaper while your baby is swaddled. It takes some skill, but you’ll appreciate this hack when you don’t have to completely reswaddle your little one at three in the morning.

7. Transition Gradually

As your baby grows, they’ll eventually need to transition out of swaddling. Rather than stopping cold turkey, try a gradual transition. Start by leaving one arm out, then both, and eventually remove the swaddle altogether. This gentle approach can make the change less jarring for your baby.

The Top 5 Most Common Swaddling Mistakes

Swaddling too tightly: As touched on previously, waddling too tightly can restrict the baby’s breathing and movement, leading to discomfort or even suffocation. It is important to ensure that the swaddle is snug enough to prevent the baby from wriggling out of it, but not so tight that it restricts breathing or movement.

Swaddling too loosely: On the other hand, swaddling too loosely can also be dangerous as it can cause the blanket to unravel and become a suffocation hazard. Make sure that the swaddle is wrapped snugly around the baby’s body, but not so tight that it restricts movement or breathing.

Ignoring the Startle Reflex: Babies have a startle reflex, known as the Moro reflex. If both arms are swaddled to the baby’s side, it could result in restless sleep for your little one — and no one wants that! Consider using an ‘arms up’ or ‘arms out’ swaddle method, especially for older babies.

Swaddling too long: Swaddling is typically recommended for newborns up to around two months old, after which it can impede the baby’s development by restricting movement. After this point, it is best to transition to a sleeping bag or other sleepwear that allows for more freedom of movement.

Swaddling with arms restrained: While it may seem logical to swaddle the baby’s arms along with their body, this can be uncomfortable and even harmful for the baby’s development. Allow the baby to have their arms free, either by swaddling with one arm out or using a swaddle that has a separate arm section.

Remember, when all else fails, just get the velcro styles. You’ll still be a hero.

Tips for a Happier YOU

Alright, super moms and dads, now that we’ve covered your little one’s needs, let’s take a moment to shift the focus — here are a few essential tips to make your swaddling journey a tad bit easier and also a little gentler on you:

Practice Makes Perfect

Remember your first pancake? The one that turned out more like a sad tortilla? Well, swaddling is a lot like flipping pancakes. It takes a few tosses to get the golden flapjack. 

Don’t stress if you don’t nail the swaddle technique right away. You’re not alone. 

Seek Professional Advice

It never hurts to ask for help. Your pediatrician, nurses, or even seasoned parent friends are all fantastic resources. Don’t hesitate to ask them for a quick demonstration or advice. Plus, you’ll get the added bonus of bonding over shared tales of swaddling mishaps.

Treat Yourself

Swaddling isn’t just about the baby, but about the comfort of the parents too. Those nighttime feeding sessions can take a toll on your lips and nipples. 

Here’s where our Nipple + Lip Rescue Balm comes in. This lanolin-free formula is a real game-changer that can soothe irritated nipples from constant feedings and revitalize dry lips. 

After all, being a new parent shouldn’t mean you have to walk around looking like you’ve trekked through the Sahara!

Self-Care Is Baby Care

Let’s face it: swaddling can be a little stressful, especially when you’re running on two hours of sleep and your second cup of coffee. It’s crucial to take some time for yourself. Remember, a relaxed parent equals a relaxed baby. 

Take some time to do something for you. This could look like taking a long shower, enjoying a nap, binge-watching your favorite show, or slathering on some of our Belly Oil for a well-deserved pampering session.

Keep Your Sense of Humor

Some days, you’ll swaddle your baby, and they’ll look like a perfectly folded burrito. Other days, they’ll look more like a sushi roll gone wrong. 

Don’t lose your sense of humor. Remember to laugh at the mishaps and celebrate the little victories. 

Wrapping Things Up

Just like mastering the art of swaddling, finding your groove as a new parent takes time. Be patient with yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask for help or indulge in a little self-care. 

You’ve got this, and we’re here to help every step of the way! For more pregnancy and baby tips, check out our blog.