Affectionately known as the baby burrito, swaddling is a great way to soothe your baby’s existential pains during the first few months.
The compact environment created by swaddling suggests the snugness of the womb, helping babies gain their worldly bearing while holding on to the in utero sensation they are so comfortable with. Swaddling also helps babies — and you! — sleep more soundly and for longer stretches by decreasing startle-reflex awakenings.
These are 3 methods of swaddling that I recommend to clients:
The key to executing this ancient method is finding a blanket with a with a fair bit of stretch. My go-to blanket is Woombie’s Old Fashioned AirWrap Blanket. These blankets are stretchy and vented (keeping babes cooler), they come in great colors, and hold up in the dryer. Swaddle Designs and aden + anais also make nice swaddling blankets.
The traditional swaddling method is as follows:
1. Spread the blanket out flat, with one corner folded down.
2. Lay the baby face-up on the blanket, with her head above the folded corner.
3. Straighten the left arm, and wrap the left corner of the blanket over the body, tucking the blanket between the right arm and the right side of the body.
4. Then tuck the right arm down and bring bottom corner of the blanket up and over the body/right arm pulling the blanket snug behind the right side of the the body.
5. Finally, wrap the right corner of the blanket over your baby’s body, until only a small bit of the blanket remains.
6. Tuck any remaining blanket fabric behind the back.
This method takes some practice, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be set. The trick is to roll your baby gently from side to side as you tuck the blanket over and underneath their back. Make sure not too wrap your baby too tightly, allowing her hips to move somewhat freely. Wrapping the hips too tightly can lead to hip dysplasia.
The Structured Swaddle
If you are struggling with the traditional method, the a structured swaddle is a good alternative. Pre-fabricated swaddles, such as The Miracle Blanket, perform the same function as a swaddle but has only two basic steps, making it fail proof. Babies also have a harder time wriggling out of them.
The Sleep Pod
One of the newest additions the market is a sleep pod consisting of a pod-shaped piece of fabric with a zipper, which runs along the length of the pod. To use the sleep pod, just unzip it and place your baby inside. Swaddling, done. Woombie, makes a great sleep pod with an opposable zip, making changing diapers without waking your baby a breeze. One side note about sleep pods: they aren’t as taut as the other two swaddling options, so if your baby is a mover, I recommend sleep pods for naps during the daytime and structured swaddle or traditional swaddle for the nighttime.
However you decide to bundle up your little one, safety should be a top priority. The American Academy Of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that you place your baby on their back to sleep, and monitor them to be sure they doesn’t roll over while swaddled.
Swaddling is effective up until about two to three months of age. After that, babies intentionally start to roll over in their sleep. At this stage swaddling should be discontinued, allowing their hands to be free so they can roll back over and support themselves. A sleep sack, like The Halo SleepSack, is a great interim option when you graduate from swaddling. Essentially a wearable blanket, it’s similar to a sleep pod, but it allows the arms to be free, so they can support themselves. It’s a great alternative as the AAP recommends keeping blankets out of your baby’s crib until their at least 12 months old.
Top image via Honest.