How To: Swadding a Newborn

Posted by Lindley Jackson on

Even if you aren't a parent yet, you’re probably familiar with the pink and blue blanket the nurses wrap around those precious bundles of joy - newborns! I’ll never forget the moment I saw our first little boy swaddled up tight in the hospital after I gave birth. He was calm and at peace and it was easy to see he was comforted by being wrapped up snuggly.

And there it began, our love for and belief in. . . swaddling!

My husband and I quickly began our inquisition of our nurse and begged her to teach us her way. Why swaddle? How do we swaddle? We had never attempted a swaddle and while we were taught to change a diaper with one hand at a baby shower, the swaddle technique appeared complicated. So, our nurse who was truly sent from heaven explained that swaddling helps babies feel secure, prevents the startle-reflex that newborns have, and of course, swaddling helps babies sleep! So, she happily showed us her swaddling method and left us with one charge: the tighter the better!

My husband quickly became a pro and was dubbed "The Swaddle King". He wrapped up our little boy snug and tight and had him looking like the cutest burrito you’ve ever seen. And when he was done, our baby slept. Hallelujah!

But, as they do, our little boy started getting bigger. After a few weeks, our baby outgrew the hospital blanket. Desperate times called for desperate measures. We immediately purchased a variety of swaddle blankets because we sure did enjoy our sleeping baby.

We tried velcro swaddle blankets, sleep sacks, and pretty much anything on the market at the time. Some of them worked well, others did not, but the one that we kept coming back to was the cotton muslin blanket.

The muslin fabric is key, giving the swaddle blanket versatility and breathability. So, when you wrap your baby tightly, you don’t need to worry about your baby being chilled or getting overheated. This swaddle blanket is warm enough for a cool breeze and definitely cool enough on hot days. Also, because cotton muslin is soft and lightweight, it’s perfect for a playmat for your little one or a nursing cover for you too. Even with their incredible softness, the muslin swaddle blankets are durable and can withstand repeated washing, perfect for multiple diaper explosions and spit-up scenes! But the reason we kept reaching for our muslin swaddle blankets is their stretch. The blankets have the best stretch or give in a blanket on the market, which is ideal for a snug swaddle. It also allows the blanket to grow with your baby!

Now that you are sold on swaddling and see the many advantages to having an ideal swaddling blanket, let’s get down to technique!

Here is the best way to wrap a newborn in a few easy steps:

First, you will need to lay the blanket on a flat surface in a diamond position. Be sure to fold the top corner down as shown.

Creating the perfect baby swaddle

Because my adorable model is my niece, I’ll refer to the baby as a girl, but you can fill in with whomever you have!

Next, place the baby on the blanket with her shoulders level with the fold of the blanket.

Baby laying on a organic cotton swaddle blanket

Then, with one of your arms, hold the baby’s arms down by her side. (This can be tricky if your baby is busy dancing like my model!) With your other arm, pull the top left corner across her body and tuck tightly under her body. You may want to roll your baby onto her right side (your left side) to get that extra room for a good tuck. Some people prefer to leave her left arm free, but we had better results wrapping both arms.

Now that you have one side tucked in, you will notice you have a quite a bit of the bottom corner of the muslin blanket hanging down longer than your baby. So, fold up the blanket to the center of her chest. Typically, you want this to be tight as well, while still leaving some wiggle room for her legs. If you need to, you can fold the extra material in a tri-fold manner up towards her chest.

Muslin swaddles for babies final step

And finally, the last move should be done in one fell swoop. Take the right corner facing you and while holding your baby steady, pull the right side of the blanket tightly across your baby, wrapping all the way behind her and around again depending on how much material you have left. You will need to rotate or lift your baby to do this successfully.

best baby swaddles

After having four babies of our own, we believe in the benefits of swaddling. Three of the four of our babies loved being swaddled, and, though one of them fought the process of being swaddled, he would fall asleep in seconds once he gave in!

Remember, everything takes practice and patience. You will quickly learn how snug the swaddle needs to be for your baby and what adjustments you need to make. But rest assured - pun completely intended - you will be confident your baby is secure and will sleep better - making the swaddle technique absolutely worth learning!

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