Swaddling newborns is an excellent way to make them feel safe and secure. Swaddling is the method of snugly and firmly wrapping your baby in a blanket or wrap. There are quite a few benefits of swaddling.
Firstly the baby is used to the snug environment inside the mother’s womb and will take a while to get used to the space outside. A newborn does not even recognize his own hands and might have problems sleeping with his hands in front of his face. He also has a ‘startle reflex’, where the arms suddenly jerk out from the body, which can wake up an unswaddled baby. This startle reflex will gradually subside over the first few months of your baby’s life.
How to swaddle your newborn
Swaddling babies is easy to do. There are a few methods. The basic one involves using a square baby blanket which is not so thick as to be either too hot or too bulky (it will be wrapped around baby a couple of times). A muslin wrap is good in warmer weather. In order to swaddle your baby, put a baby blanket or wrap on a flat surface, such as a bed. Fold the top corner just a few inches and lie your baby in the middle of the blanket with her head on the fold. Now wrap the right side of the blanket over the baby and tuck the end under her left side, under her left arm. Then take the left end and wrap it around the baby as well, tuck it under her right side under the baby’s back. Now fold the bottom up and wrap it the corners around behind her shoulders. Remember to not wrap the baby too tightly; swaddling is supposed to be cozy and warm. But make sure her arms are securely held.
When swaddling your newborn you must take into account the level of wrapping when deciding what (if any) other baby bedding is necessary.
The following video shows another way of swaddling newborns with the wrap shifted to the diagonal.
When to stop swaddling
After two to three months your baby’s startle reflex will have diminished and swaddling should gradually be discontinued. You can start by either keeping one arm of your baby out of the wrap or not wrapping the legs. Often it is at this point that you will move your baby from a moses basket or bassinette into a crib, as baby cribs have more room to flail around those arms once they are unwrapped.
Swaddling blankets for babies
There are a number of different kinds of baby swaddling blankets available that make swaddling even easier. There is a wide variety of baby sleeping bags and wraps available that are quite comfortable and cozy for babies. The Cocooi Babywrap Newborn Baby Swaddle from Merino Kids of New Zealand is an excellent example. It absorbs and releases moisture to regulate the baby’s temperature and does not let it get too hot or too cold. The fabric is 100% natural, merino wool, very comfortable and hypoallergenic. It has a pouch for your baby’s legs and long “arms” that wrap around holding your baby snugly. All in all it is an excellent product, it makes swaddling your baby very easy and keeps it warm and safe. The Cocooi Newborn Sleep Bag is an option if you need to keep your baby’s arms out to transfer your baby between the crib, stroller and car seat.
The miracle blanket is a similar product to the Cocooi swaddle. Being made of cotton instead of merino wool it doesn’t have the same temperature regulating benefits, but it is priced significantly lower.
Many other baby swaddling wraps are available, but simple muslin or cotton blankets are also perfectly fine.