The Art Of Swaddling: How To Safely Swaddle Your Newborn
Published on May 23, 2022 11:33:07 AM PDT May 23, 2022 11:33:07 AM PDTrd, May 23, 2022 11:33:07 AM PDT
The Art Of Swaddling: How To Safely Swaddle Your Newborn
When you bring your beautiful, brand-new baby home from the hospital, it’s normal to feel a little overwhelmed. There are so many things to remember to properly care for them, from feeding and bathing to how to properly change their diaper, settling them when they’re upset and a million and one other things.
One of the more important things for every new parent to be aware of, though, is swaddling; the practice of wrapping your baby up snugly in a blanket, specialised swaddle outfit, or sleeping bag for older babies 3 months and up.
Mimicking the sensation of being nice and cosy in the womb, there are some fantastic benefits to swaddling newborns in their ‘fourth trimester’:
- Helps to soothe them if they’re crying or distressed
- Can help them get to sleep easier and more quickly and even stay asleep longer (a benefit for both baby and parents!)
- Restricts their ability to accidentally shift onto their tummy which may reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
Both swaddles and sleeping bags can be a fantastic addition to your baby’s collection of accessories. Using a blanket or swaddle is best only during the newborn stage and recommended to be ceased at two months of age, at which stage you can upgrade to a baby sleeping bag which will provide baby with much more freedom to move around. Many brands now have purpose-made sleeping bags made for babies who are 6 months and up!
Basic Swaddling Steps
Interested in swaddling your little one but aren’t quite sure exactly how to do it right? Don’t worry, here’s a simple and straightforward step-by-step to help you get the job done:
- Lay a blanket or fabric on a flat, safe (and clean) surface in a diamond shape. For specially-designed baby swaddles, they should be used according to instructions.
- Fold and smooth the top point of the diamond downwards.
- Place baby on their back and on top of the cloth so their head and shoulders sit just above the swaddle (where the top point of the diamond was before you folded it).
- Place one of the baby's arms by their side, and wrap the blanket over it, tucking it into their other side.
- Snugly wrap your baby’s hips and legs with their hips bent and knees apart (in a natural frog-leg position), ensuring they can still wriggle their feet without coming free.
- Fold the bottom corner of the blanket up and towards their shoulders (without covering their face).
- Repeat step 4 with the other arm
If you are using a purpose-built baby sleeping bag, you can follow the specific instructions set by the respective brand.
6 Key Do’s and Don’ts of Swaddling
While there are a number of great benefits to swaddling your baby, there are also a few very important Do’s and Don’ts to remember to ensure they’re not just as comfortable but also as safe as possible.
1. DO: Use light, breathable materials or cloth when swaddling. DO NOT: Use thick or layered fabric.
Because newborns are super-sensitive to temperature and at such an early age cannot regulate their own temperature, it’s absolutely essential that you use highly breathable and light materials or cloth when you’re swaddling them. Too many layers or thick fabric can cause a baby to overheat quite easily.
Ideal fabrics include cotton, cotton muslin and specialised baby swaddles such as:
- Mothercare Flutterby Extra Large Muslins - 2pk: Super-soft, pre-washed, and multi-purpose, these Mothercare muslins come in various designs and can be used for swaddling, burping, and more!
- Not Too Big Tiger Bamboo Swaddles - 3 Pack: These multi-purpose swaddles are made from breathable and thermoregulating bamboo and organic cotton fabric which help to keep baby cool even in Singapore's hot and humid climate. They come in various designs, with instructions included.
- Aden + Anais Rising Star Classic Swaddles - 4pk: These pre-washed cotton muslins have become popular amongst parents for their breathability, versatility, and multi-purpose uses.
After swaddling your baby and putting them down for a nap, it’s also important to regularly monitor their temperature. Baby monitors can also help parents keep an eye on baby throughout the day, using both video and sound surveillance.
2. DO: Keep the swaddle only for sleep use. DO NOT: Use for short periods when baby is awake.
Because the calming effects of swaddling are best suited to longer, uninterrupted sleep and if used too routinely may have a negative effect on their development, you should never utilise swaddling when you’re breastfeeding or feeding your baby.
It should only be used when you’re putting them down for a nap during the day or at night, and when practiced properly at night can even be used as a sleep training tool to help both baby and parents get a better night’s sleep.
Here’s a rundown of how you can implement swaddle sleep training at home:
- First, make sure they’re fed, burped and have a clean nappy on
- Then swaddle baby using the steps laid out earlier in the article
- Next, switch on some white noise (there are heaps of white noise apps available for free)
- Let them fall asleep in your arms first, then put them into their cot/cotbed/etc. but wake them with a gentle tickle
- Finally, watch them rouse for a moment and fall back to sleep.
If they end up crying or being frustrated when you gently wake them up in their bed, they may be still hungry, uncomfortable or otherwise. Check all of the above and remedy anything that’s wrong, pick them up, calm them again and put them back into their bed when they’ve fallen back asleep. Remember to gently wake them after you’ve put them down though, so they stir and fall back asleep on their own in their own bed.
3. DO: Always swaddle your baby below their shoulders. DO NOT: Swaddle your baby’s shoulders, neck, or head.
You must never, ever swaddle your baby with their head, neck or even shoulders inside the swaddle in order to prevent suffocation or SIDS. There are special swaddle outfits available that make sure this will never happen with the way they’re designed, including:
- Tommee Tippee Gro Swaddle Wrap - Blue Marl 0-3 months: These swaddle wraps are suitable for 0-3 month olds, come with a hip-healthy hourglass shape, and are available in a range of adorable designs.
Mothercare You Me & The Sea Zipped Swaddle: Suitable for birth to 14 weeks, these 100% cotton swaddles have a zip fastening with zip guard for ease of use.
4. DO: Make sure your baby’s hips are safely secured. DO NOT: Overlook or discount proper swaddling positions.
If you wrap your baby in the wrong position and/or too tightly, this can eventually lead to hip dysplasia. Avoid this by making sure when you’re swaddling them that they’re still able to move their hips and knees when inside; their hips should be bent and their knees apart, a bit like a frog.
You’ll find a range of fantastic newborn swaddles that help prevent hip dysplasia out there:
- Clevamama Swaddle To Sleep - Pink 0-3 months: Clevamama’s swaddles are acknowledged as ‘hip-healthy’ by Intl. Hip Dysplasia Institute and are suitable for newborns to 3 months. They are easy to adjust, so your baby stays comfy even as they grow.
- Love To Dream Stage 1 Swaddle Up Bamboo LITE: Coming in various designs and sizes, Love To Dream swaddles have a patented wing design that allows babies to move their arms for self-soothing while eliminating nighttime face scratching. They also have a dual zipper for easy diaper changes, and a shape designed to allow for natural leg movement!
5. DO: Ensure baby is always sleeping in a safe position. DO NOT: Swaddle baby once they can roll over.
All babies, swaddled or not, should follow the same general rules for sleeping, which is to sleep on their backs and avoid the front and side positions as much as possible.
When they’re able to roll over on their own, though, it’s time for their hands and arms to be free and mobile so they can adjust their position should they roll over at any stage. As such, we recommend switching from a newborn swaddle to sleeping bag. For a newborn baby, sleeping bags offer too much wiggle room, but for babies of 2 or more months they can be a wonderful way for them to still feel secure and safe when going to sleep.
Here are two recommendations of arguably the best baby sleeping bags in Singapore:
- Tommee Tippee Gro Sleep Bag (Bamboo/Aloe): These sleep bags come in a bamboo and cotton blend infused with aloe vera for soothing properties, and you can take your pick from their range of sizes and designs. They also have a hip-healthy design approved by the Intl. Hip Dysplasia Institute, and a two-way zip for easy diaper changes.
- Mothercare Little & Loved Sleeping Bag: Sweet and simple, Mothercare sleeping bags have a zip guard to prevent injury to baby’s skin, and full zip opening for easy diaper changes.
6. DO: Explain safe swaddling to other caretakers. DO NOT assume that all caregivers know safe swaddling rules.
It’s important that you have peace of mind when you leave your precious new baby with a caretaker such as family, friends, childcare teachers and babysitters. For this reason, teaching them the proper method of safe newborn swaddling is vital if they are planning to do it themselves while you’re not there.
It can be hugely beneficial to not just go through the steps (perhaps even printing off the steps from this article!) but also showing them in practice how to do it while pointing out all of the do’s and don’ts. Then have them do it in front of you so you can be assured your little one is in capable hands.
Shop Swaddling, Sleeping Bags and Baby Sleep Essentials at Mothercare
As has been consistently addressed throughout this article, safety is absolutely paramount when it comes time to swaddle baby. Need some more information about swaddling or sleeping bags for newborns and babies? Our digital nursery advisor available via WhatsApp will answer any questions or concerns you may have, and provide free complimentary advice to help you on your parenting journey.
If you’re ready to shop a huge range of quality products for mum and baby including Mothercare swaddles, sleeping bags, Aden and Anais sleep sacks and more, you’ll find it all on the Mothercare online store. We also offer a wide selection of baby furniture, bedding and pillows and safety essentials so you can rest assured.
Order online today and enjoy free delivery for any order over $60! Prefer to shop in-store? Find your nearest Mothercare store in Singapore here to browse our wide range of products and check them out for yourself.