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How to swaddle your baby

A step-by-step guide to safe swaddling

Categories   Sleep

The Edit

Congratulations on the arrival of your little one! If you’re choosing to swaddle your baby, we’re here to help!

The thought may seem a little daunting and you may be thinking, have I done this properly? Is it too tight? But don’t worry as you’re not on your own – all you need is our step-by-step guide.

What is swaddling?

As a traditional way to wrap a baby, swaddling has been practised for thousands of years by parents across the world. The technique uses a lightweight sheet or breathable muslin to keep your baby snug and secure – it’s believed to keep your little one comforted in the outside world after being safe and warm inside your tummy for nine months.

Step-by-step swaddling guide

Step one

Place your swaddle on a flat surface and fold in half to make a triangle. Place baby in the centre with their shoulders slightly below the fold.

Step two

Fold one side of your swaddle over baby’s arm and chest and tuck the fabric under baby’s free arm and back.

Step three

Fold the bottom of your swaddle over baby’s feet, tucking the point into the top of your swaddle.

Step four

Fold the open side of the swaddle over baby’s free arm, tucking the fabric under baby to secure.

Is swaddling my baby safe?

Yes, if you practise safe sleeping and hip-friendly swaddling, it’s perfectly safe. The biggest risk is not doing it properly. This could be that the muslin hasn’t been wrapped in the correct sequence, or that it’s too thick or too tight and could potentially cause overheating.

Swaddling should not be practised whilst breastfeeding, when your baby is likely to get warmer quickly. Being wrapped in a muslin may also restrict your little one’s natural feeding position.

There are lots of benefits to swaddling, with many parents saying it helps to calm their baby and allows them to sleep for longer. As well as keeping them calm and secure, it’s thought to prevent the amount of unnecessary wake ups caused a baby’s startle reflex. A swaddled baby will be wrapped gently in the blanket, meaning they’re less likely to startle themselves by their own involuntary limb movements.

Always be sure to follow safe swaddling guidelines or speak to your midwife if you’re considering it for your baby.

Here’s some key things to remember, as advised by the The Lullaby Trust:

  • Never put a swaddled baby to sleep on their front or side.
  • Never swaddle when bed-sharing
  • Stop swaddling (with arms wrapped inside the material) when a baby shows signs of rolling as they could roll onto their tummy and won’t be able to roll back.
  • Use materials such as a thin muslin or thin cotton sheet – do not use blankets or place any additional bedding over a swaddled baby, this could cause them to overheat.
  • Ensure baby is not overdressed under the swaddle, has their head uncovered and does not have an infection or fever
  • Check baby’s temperature to ensure they do not get too hot – check the back of their neck. If baby’s skin is hot or sweaty, remove one or more layers of bedclothes.
  • Baby should be swaddled securely to reduce the risk of face-covering by loose material.
  • Swaddles should not be applied very tightly around the hips as this is associated with developmental dysplasia of the hip. However, the swaddle should also be secure enough not to come apart, as loose soft bedding can increase the chance of SIDS if pulled over a baby’s head, causing a baby to over-heat or obstruct their breathing.

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