Being a new mom in the hospital watching the nurses pick up your babies, change their diapers and swaddling them into burritos feels like a whirlwind. The learning curve is steep. After watching the nurses get the job done a few times during your hospital stay, most parents feel like they’ve got it down to a science.
And then you’re sent home from the hospital with two tiny humans. You are trying to replicate all that you observed and overly delicate with every move that you make…right?
Fast forward in time a bit…to a midday nap, when you are trying to rest yourself. Just when you think all is quiet and you are going to finally get a few peaceful moments to yourself you hear cries from the nursery because your babes have weaseled their arms out of the swaddle, YET AGAIN!
Swaddling a baby seemed as easy as wrapping presents, but it turns out that there really is an art to it! With a few simple tips, every new parent can wrap their babies in a way that will keep them tucked tightly in a little swaddle.
Most babies LOVE to be swaddled as they adjust to life outside of the womb for the first few months (1 to 2 months at the most) of life. Swaddling can also help signal sleep and act as a security blanket, no pun intended. By keeping your babies in a tight swaddle, you are helping to mimic the security of the womb and are also helping to manage their startle reflux which allows a baby catch more zzz’s without waking themselves up with their “wild” limbs.
Nowadays there are more swaddles on the market than most parents know what to do with. That means that you have plenty of options to try to help you find what you and your babies prefer the most. You will find the swaddle that works best for you both during a period of trial and error, so we’d suggest that you first collect and try hand-me-downs if you can. The period of time where you will swaddle your babies doesn’t last terribly long, so we wouldn’t suggest that you spend a lot of money investing in a large stash of swaddles.
As it turns out, our favorite swaddles were those blankets given to you at the hospital. You know, the ones with the cute feet on them? Snag a handful before you leave, as they might turn out to be your favorite as well. Sure those newborn photos can be taken in other cute blankets. For swaddling purposes, we recommend the blankets from the hospital!
But don’t worry, if we can’t sell you on the hospital swaddles, we do have plenty of others that we tried and liked that we will share with you below. If your babies don’t take to one particular brand you will have several to choose from.
During the first few months, swaddling is an extremely helpful tool. Babies are adjusting to life outside of the womb. During those early newborn days, swaddling during the day and night is acceptable. Just be sure to give your baby some unswaddled time each day. After about a month, stop swaddling during awake time and save the swaddling as a tool to signal sleep. Wrap your babies for a nap and nighttime sleep, but consider transitioning away from swaddling their arms (beginning with leaving one arm out) around 6-8 weeks.
Here is where your finely-tuned burrito wrapping skills come in. The key is to get the swaddle tucked tightly. Be sure you are leaving enough room for light movement. Be sure there isn’t too much room that babies can wiggle out of it. Today there are MANY swaddle products that allow you to simply zip or velcro it closed. There are many parents, us included, who still like to use the good ol’ fashioned blanket folded and wrapped around their babies. So if you choose to go that route, here is how you swaddle a baby:
- Start by laying the swaddle blanket out on a flat surface.
- Next, fold the top corner of the swaddle about 6″ down.
- Lay your baby down in the middle of the swaddle with their head laying on the folded corner.
- Wrap the left corner over your baby. Tuck it snuggly under your baby’s left arm, securing it under their body.
- Fold the bottom up and tuck any excess blanket under your baby.
- Finish by folding the right corner over your baby and tuck into one of the folds
Need a visual? Life as Mama created this graphic to help parents learn the basics of swaddling.
When it comes to swaddling, everyone has their own unique technique to get their babies tucked in just right. Our husbands actually were the masters when it came to swaddling.
Try not to get discouraged. It takes a bit of practice, but once you find your stride you’ll be a pro. Really the time where you will need to swaddle is short lived anyway!