Why, when, and how to swaddle your newborn baby
Swaddling is an ancient technique designed to help your child to sleep and settle with ease. But swaddling can be difficult for new parents and caregivers to navigate. From when to swaddle to how to swaddle a newborn, find out everything you need to know below.
What is swaddling?
Swaddling, also known as wrapping, is a strategy parents and caregivers use to help their newborn baby to settle and sleep on their back during the first few months. Swaddling imitates the warmth and comfort experienced in utero and makes the post-birth transition smoother.
Swaddling is a personal choice and there is limited evidence that it protects against SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
Why should you swaddle your baby?
Why do you swaddle a baby? Swaddling is a technique used by parents and caregivers to help their little one settle and sleep.
It’s a great way to prevent your child from waking up due to the startle reflex. The startle reflex causes a child’s arms and head to jerk which can cause them to wake them up. Swaddling calms this sudden movement and helps them to settle faster.
Below, find other common reasons why parents and caregivers choose to swaddle:
Swaddling helps your baby to sleep in a familiar, warm, and comforting environment.
Swaddling helps your baby to stay calmer for longer periods of time.
Swaddling prevents your baby from scratching their face.
Swaddling helps to lay the foundations of a safe sleep routine. Your baby will slowly begin to recognise swaddling as a cue to sleep.
When should you start swaddling your baby?
It’s up to the parent or caregiver to decide when to swaddle. If swaddling is something you’d like to try, it’s recommended that you start from birth in order to establish a safe sleep routine that will last for years to come. Your little one will slowly recognise swaddling as a cue to sleep.
You must stop swaddling once your baby starts to show signs of rolling over or pulling up onto their hands. Every child is different, but this usually happens between three to four months old.
How to traditionally swaddle a baby: A step-by-step guide
Lay the blanket out on a flat surface such as a changing table and fold over one of the corners.
Lay your baby face-up on the blanket with the head positioned at the folded corner.
Bring the bottom corner of the blanket up over their feet.
Wrap the left corner over your baby, with their left arm by their side, leaving the head and neck outside of the blanket.
Make sure the blanket isn’t too tight around the hips and legs and ensure that their body can still move around.
How to use our Swaddle-Up™
Our award-winning Swaddle Up™ has been designed to allow your child to sleep in a more natural arms-up™ position, all thanks to its unique wings. Discover a comfortable hip-friendly design and handy zipper for easy nappy changes without disturbing your baby’s sleep. Much easier to use than a traditional swaddle, simply place your child in the Swaddle-Up, zip it up, and place your baby on their back to sleep. Always follow safe sleep guidelines.
What to consider when swaddling your baby
From monitoring the temperature of the room to carrying out safety checks, follow the below steps when swaddling your baby.
It’s important to monitor the temperature of the room to ensure a safe and comfortable sleep for your child. Our Clothing Guide will help you to find the correct sleep product depending on the season and room temperature.
You can also check the temperature of your baby by touching their head and belly, which should feel warm. If your child becomes too hot or too cold, this can increase the risk of SIDS. If you are concerned about your child’s temperature, please contact a medical professional.
It’s important to always follow safe sleep guidelines. Below, find safety checks to carry out before sleep:
Red Nose Australia recommends sleeping in the same room as your child for the first six to 12 months.
Always put your baby to sleep on their back on a clean, firm, and flat mattress that is the correct size for the cot/bassinet. Never use heated blankets, hot water bottles, or pillows/bedding.
Always remove any loose objects, toys, and blankets from the cot/bassinet before sleep.
Ensure there are no hanging cords such as curtains or blinds near the cot/bassinet.
How to choose the right swaddle
At Love To Dream™, we offer a range of swaddles in different prints, colours, and fabric grades. First things first, consider the season and temperature of your baby’s sleep space and use our Clothing guide to find the right product.
Frequently asked swaddling questions
From how many hours a day a baby can be swaddled to whether you should put clothes under a swaddle, find answers to your most asked questions below.
Do you have to swaddle newborns to sleep?
No, swaddling is a personal choice. If you do decide to swaddle your baby, it’s best to start from birth in order to establish a sleep routine that will last for years to come. Always follow safe sleep guidelines and choose the correct TOG rating for the season and temperature.
Why do babies like to be swaddled?
Babies like to be swaddled for the below reasons:
Swaddling creates a familiar sleeping environment to in utero.
The Love To Dream Swaddle-Up™ is designed to encourage safe self-soothing.
Swaddling enables your child to have more hip movement and freedom.
How many hours can a baby be swaddled?
You can swaddle your baby for 12 to 20 hours a day. We recommend removing the swaddle to feed.
How long should you keep swaddling your baby?
You must stop swaddling your baby when they start to show signs of rolling over or pulling up onto their hands. Every child is different, but this usually occurs around three to four months.
Our Transition Suits and Bags™ are designed to ease your child into arms-free sleep, as the wings can be removed one by one. Not every baby enjoys being swaddled. If they seem distressed or resistant, stop swaddling.
Should I swaddle my newborn during the day?
Yes, you can swaddle your baby during the day. Swaddling helps your baby to feel calm and is a cue to remind them when it’s time to sleep. Swaddling also reduces the effect of the Morro reflex, encouraging your child to sleep sounder for longer.
Should you unswaddle your child for naps?
If you are swaddling your baby during the night, you should also swaddle your baby for daytime naps. This will help them to recognise this as a cue to sleep. You must stop swaddling when your child shows signs of rolling over.
Do you put clothes under a swaddle?
Our Swaddle-Up™ has been designed to eliminate the need for excess layers, therefore reducing the risk of SIDS. You need to dress your baby beneath the swaddle depending on the season and temperature. Use our Clothing Guide for further information.
Can you swaddle a baby too tightly?
Yes. Red Nose Australia recommends that the swaddle you choose is firm but not too tight, as this can restrict the movement of a baby’s hips and chest. Love To Dream’s bestselling Swaddle-Up™ has been designed to ensure your child has enough room for hip flexion and provides a safe and comfortable fit for sleep.
Is it OK to keep your baby swaddled while feeding?
We do not recommend swaddling your baby while feeding. When your child is arms-free, babies can use their hands and arms to position or latch onto the bottle/breast.
Try our Love To Dream Swaddle-Up™
The Love To Dream Swaddle-Up™ is an easy way to swaddle your baby. It can be used from birth to establish a safe sleep routine. Its unique wing tips enable your child to sleep in a more natural arms-up™ position to safely self-soothe while its hip-healthy design allows for freedom of movement.
The Swaddle-Up™ comes in a range of colours and fabric grades for the different seasons. Use our Clothing guide to find the right product for your child.
When your baby shows signs of rolling over, it’s time to stop swaddling. Our Transition Suits and Bags are designed to ease your child towards more independent arms-free sleep.
At Love To Dream™, we know that every child is different, and we’re committed to helping you to find the right solution for your family. With you at every step, Love To Dream™ believes today’s little dreamers are the shapers of tomorrow. For further advice from our experts, visit our Sleep Library.