You’ve heard that swaddling is a great way to calm your baby down.
You know it can mimic the feeling of security and protection found in the womb. It also keeps your baby’s arms from flailing up and helps to prevent her startle reflex.
You may also know it’s an ancient practice that’s brought relief, comfort, and a good night’s rest to babies (and their weary parents!) for centuries.
Yet, what you might not know is exactly how to do it. Finding the proper combination of twists and tucks is not only essential for ensuring your baby’s comfort — it is also vitally important to keeping your baby safe.
If you’re a new parent looking for the best baby swaddle technique, you’ve come to the right place. Today, we’re taking a look at several ways you can bundle your baby up the right way.
Ready to get started? Let’s dive in!
The Blanket Method
We’ll discuss some of the new, ready-to-use swaddle blankets in the next section. First, let’s go over how to swaddle the old-fashioned way: using a lightweight blanket.
Many parents opt to use muslin blankets for this purpose as the material is breathable and thin, making them some of the best baby swaddle materials around.
Whichever type of material you opt to use, just make sure the blanket you use is intended for swaddling. Never use a thick blanket, or one that’s too small or too large.
There are a ton of swaddle blankets on the market today, available online and in-stores, that are designed just for this purpose. By choosing from these options, you won’t have to wonder if you’re using the right one.
Once you’ve got your blanket ready, here are some steps to follow to achieve your best baby swaddle under this method:
- Lay out the blanket in a diamond shape.
- Fold the top corner of the blanket down, forming a straight edge across the top.
- Place your baby on the top of the blanket, with his or her head above the folded edge.
- Hold your baby in place with one hand, and with the other hand, pick up a corner of the blanket.
- Bring that corner over your baby’s chest, and tuck it underneath her opposite arm.
- Fold the bottom of the blanket under your baby’s feet, being sure to leave enough room for her feet and legs to wiggle. This can help avoid hip dysplasia, and can make sure your baby doesn’t overheat.
- Tuck the bottom portion of the blanket under your baby’s other shoulder.
- Pick up the other corner of the blanket, making sure to keep your baby in place with your free hand.
- Bring the corner across your baby, and tuck it beneath her.
After you’ve completed these steps, the only parts of your baby that should be exposed are her head and neck. For the best baby swaddle, her arms should be comfortably secured by her side underneath the blanket, and her legs and feet should be covered by the blanket, but allowed to stretch and bend.
Commercial Swaddle Wraps
While a lightweight swaddle cloth is an excellent (and traditional) means of swaddling your baby, your personal best baby swaddle might come from a commercial swaddle wrap.
Relatively new on the market, these swaddle wraps take the guesswork out of folding and tucking a large blanket.
Rather, the best baby swaddle designs in this category are created to better fit your baby’s shape. Simple connection points that make swaddling a breeze, even for the most novice beginners.
Some of the top brands, such as the Miracle Wrap, come with a foot pouch on the bottom, and two arm flaps. Here are the basic instructions to use with a design such as this one:
- Lay the swaddle wrap on a flat surface, with the foot pouch on the bottom.
- Position your baby on top of the blanket, between the arm flaps. Her shoulders should be just above the top of the blanket.
- Hold your baby with one arm, and with the other arm, pull one arm flap down over your baby, tucking it under her back. Repeat this step with the opposite arm flap. You’ll want to lift your baby’s bottom slightly to ensure the flaps are flat and fit snugly.
- Pull the foot pocket over your baby’s feet. Keep in mind that your baby’s feet might not reach all the way into the pocket (or even at all). If you’re swaddling a newborn, you can even fold the bottom of the foot pocket up for snugger fit.
- One note: If your baby prefers to be snuggled with her feet free, you can simply lay your baby’s feet over the foot pouch and continue with steps 6-7, essentially forgoing this step.
- Fold the right side of the blanket over your baby’s belly, and tuck it under the opposite armpit (this will look like the left armpit to you, but will actually be your baby’s right). Make sure the flap goes all the way behind your baby’s back.
- Wrap the right side of the blanket around your baby’s stomach. Keep wrapping around until the wrap runs out. Then, pull the blanket snug.
When you’ve completed these steps, the top of the blanket should be positioned just below the top of your baby’s shoulders. This will lead to the best baby swaddle that’s comfortable and safe.
Best Baby Swaddle Safety Techniques
Whether you opt for the Blanket Method, or you use a commercial swaddle wrap, you’ll want to ensure 100% safety and security when using your swaddle. After all, the best baby swaddle is one that not only calms your baby, but keeps her protected as well.
So once your baby is properly swaddled, remember to follow these guidelines to ensure her safety:
- Always place a swaddled baby on her back to rest.
- Remember, your baby won’t have the ability to prop herself up to get air if she rolls over. So once your baby learns how to roll on her belly, it’s time to stop swaddling.
- Ensure your baby is in a comfortably cool environment, as swaddling can increase the risk of overheating, and monitor your baby often.
More Tips to Soothe While Swaddled
Once your baby is swaddled, there are a few additional ways you can help get him or her calmed down.
Remember, the swaddle works primarily because it replicates the feeling of being warm, secure, and tight in the womb. That said, to achieve the full effect of the swaddle, you can mimic this feeling just a little more by practicing the following:
- Standing shushing. Holding your baby on her side or tummy, try putting your lips next to her ear and offering a gentle “shhh.” This noise is similar to the one she experienced in the womb, with blood flow all around her louder than a vacuum. Remember this position is just to be used while soothing. When sleeping in a swaddle, babies should always be placed on their backs.
- Sleeping shushing. Once your baby is asleep in the swaddle, you’ll want to place her on her back in her crib. To keep the shushing going, many parents opt to buy a simple white noise machine to keep in the nursery. These machines often provide a range of noises, from gentle waves and radio static to low, rumbly sounds. Experiment with them to find one that lures your baby to sleep and keeps her there.
- Gently swaying. Your baby also experienced some jiggling while she was in the womb! Think of all the time you spent walking around, bending down, and just moving in general. While shushing, try gently swaying your baby side to side, remembering to keep her head supported at all times. You can also try a gentle jiggle, though be careful not to shake your baby.
- Comfort sucking. At this stage, your baby might self-soothe with the help of a pacifier. If this is the case, offer her the pacifier, or even just your thumb to briefly suck on, to calm her down and help her drift off to sleep.
By trying these three things, you can amplify the effect of even the best baby swaddle, and help your baby feel even more relaxed and secure.
Your Next Steps: Keeping Your Baby Soothed
While swaddling is an excellent way to calm and soothe your baby, if she’s still fussy even after you try your best baby swaddle and practice the extra above tips, she might be telling you she needs another change.
Does she appear to be gassy, or suffering from an upset stomach? Her formula might need to be switched.
Organic European infant formulas are a great alternative to some of the American baby formula brands available on the market. You might even try goat’s milk formula if your baby appears intolerant of dairy.
If you’d like more information on European formulas, or are simply interested in learning about their benefits and usage, we’d love to help.