In Birth

How to swaddle a baby: Swaddling a newborn can be very beneficial and it’s safe as long as you use the correct technique and don’t allow baby to overheat. We don’t want to add to your new mum worries, so in this blog we will give you a step-by-step guide on how to swaddle your baby, as well as giving you the answers to some common questions and misconceptions about swaddling.

What is swaddling?

Swaddling is an ancient method of wrapping a baby up gently in a blanket or cloth, in order to help them feel calm, comfortable and cosy. When done correctly, baby should only have their body wrapped and not their neck or head. The idea is that being swaddled gives baby the same feelings of security and snugness that they had when in the womb.

Does swaddling have benefits?

Yes and no (depending on who you speak to…) Experts are divided about whether all the reported benefits stand up to scientific scrutiny. However, many parents swear by the benefits, saying that it helps baby sleep better, protects against the natural startle reflex and reduces anxiety in babies, by imitating a mama’s touch. These are all really good reasons to give it a try as it may help settle your baby.

Is swaddling safe?

While swaddling is perfectly safe when done in the right way, it can be harmful if the technique is incorrect. If you don’t stick to a few simple safety guidelines, the risks can include:

  • Hip dysplasia

    Excessively tight wrapping that restricts your baby’s leg movement can lead to a condition called hip dysplasia, which is when the hip joint doesn’t form properly. This is why it’s important to make sure your baby’s legs can kick freely and move into their natural ‘frog-like’ position even when your infant is swaddled. Likewise, swaddling infants with the hips and knees in an extended position may increase the risk of hip dysplasia and dislocation.

  • Overheating

    Unlike older children and adults, babies cannot control their own body temperature. For this reason it’s very important not let your baby get too hot when you swaddle them. One reason why this might happen is if you are warpping your baby too tightly or in thick blankets. Avoid this by regularly checking that your baby is at a comfortable temperature for sleeping and removing layers if necessary. Signs that your infant may be too hot include damp sweaty skin or hair, flushed cheeks or skin that feels hot (not just warm). An overheating baby may also cry or seem restless.

When to stop swaddling?

As soon as your baby shows any signs of trying to roll over it’s time to stop wrapping baby up. Some babies start working on rolling as early as 2 months of age, but every baby is different. There is no evidence with regard to SIDS risk related to the arms swaddled in or out.

How to swaddle: Step-by-step

How to swaddle a baby: Step 1)

Spread the blanket out flat – in a diamond shape – on a changing table, bed or the floor, and fold down the top corner.

How to swaddle a baby: Step 2)

Lay your baby face-up on the blanket, with his or her head at the folded corner.

How to swaddle a baby: Step 3)

Gently put your baby’s right arm down by his or her side.

How to swaddle a baby: Step 4)

Wrap the right corner over your baby and tuck it underneath your baby’s left side.

How to swaddle a baby: Step 5)

Bring the bottom corner of the blanket up over your baby’s feet, towards the shoulders, leaving the neck and face uncovere

How to swaddle a baby: Step 6)

Next, gently position your baby’s left arm by his or her side and wrap the left corner over your baby, tucking it in under the left side.

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