Choosing the Ideal Baby Blanket for Swaddling

Green cotton bag with moby wrap tag.
The 42" x 42" Moby Wrap swaddle blanket is made from ultra-soft 100% stretch cotton and comes with a coordinating newborn hat

Researchers have found that a babies sleep better when swaddled with a baby blanket. The risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) also reduces if babies are swaddled, and placed to sleep on their back. Swaddled babies sleep better on their backs than unswaddled babies, as the wrap helps calm their startle reflex. It also gives warmth, security and comfort to your baby, helping her to sleep better.

The blanket or wraps you choose to swaddle your baby in can also become a comfortingly familiar item when you put your baby down to sleep somewhere away from home, or go on holidays, even after she has outgrown swaddling. So choosing the ideal baby blanket for swaddling your baby is of great importance. See below for some blankets and wraps designed specifically for swaddling. But first, some factors you should consider when choosing the blanket.

Safety

The safety of your baby should be the prime concern. Overheating and swaddling tightly are two things that should be avoided. The fabric of the swaddle blanket must be breathable and lightweight to ensure that air can circulate through the blanket so that your baby doesn’t feel too hot. The fabric must be stretchable in order make sure that your baby can move without any discomfort. A cotton blanket or muslin wrap are both very good, breathable swaddling options.

It is ideal to use organic baby blankets for swaddling your baby. Organic blankets are made from purely organically grown fabrics which don’t contain pesticides and other harmful chemicals. The skin of your baby is very soft and sensitive. Even small amounts of toxic chemicals might cause allergies and other skin and health problems for your baby. If you do choose to buy organic, be sure the fabric is certified organic and that you are buying from a reputable supplier.

Four wraps
Aden & Anais 100% cotton muslin swaddling blankets, 47"x47"

Size and Design

The size of the baby blanket is another important factor. Usually swaddling blankets are square in shape. Often they are oversized to enable you to wrap the blanket more than once around your baby, like the miracle blanket, with it’s extra wide wings. A blanket that is too small will quickly be outgrown. But it should not be so big that it becomes too heavy and thick. Besides, if the blanket is too big, it will cause you difficulties while carrying it with you when you go for outing. For a standard square blanket, ideally, if you want the blanket to last past the tiny newborn weeks, you will want a swaddling blanket that at least one metre square (40 inches), but no more than around a 1.3 metres in width. Unfortunately, most baby blankets are less than one metre, or 40 inches, wide.

Another thing that you need to consider is that the blankets should ideally be machine-washable and durable as you will need to wash them frequently.

The design and color of the baby blanket you buy is your personal choice. Newborn babies can only see color in tems of contrasts, so pastels will not have much impact on your baby, but when you are choosing blankets for sleeping, that is probably a good thing. Extra stimulation is not what your baby needs at bedtime. But, if this is going to be a blanket your baby will keep for years to come, it is worth the extra effort of choosing an attractive design and colours that you like.

Specific Baby Blankets Designed for Swaddling

There are various different blankets and wraps and designed specifically for wrapping babies, from the miracle blanket, which is specially shaped to make it easy to wrap your baby snugly, to the Kiddopotamus SwaddleMe which has a pouch for baby’s legs and feet, and arm flaps that use velcro to stay closed.

Swaddling with the Miracle Blanket

The Miracle Baby Swaddling Blanket, blue with green trim
The Miracle Baby Swaddling Blanket

Swaddling has become a standard answer to help calm fussy babies and to help induce sleep, but not all babies are easy to keep swaddled. Either they get loose after a few squirms or they are just get too active to allow wrapping in the first place. Then too, for new parents, overwhelmed and sleep deprived, sometime it’s just nice to have a product that makes things a little easier. That’s where the Miracle Blanket comes into its own.

Fortunately for the swaddling-challenged parent, there is now an easier way of swaddling. The popular method has been modified and made easy with this specially shaped wrap. It is still a baby blanket, it just makes swaddling easy.

The Miracle Blanket looks plain and simple but that’s what it is supposed to be. There are no buttons, snaps, knots, or zippers that can scratch a baby’s sensitive skin. It doesn’t have a hood or extra fabric that can make parents worry about suffocation or the risk of over-heating. Instead, the Miracle Blanket has been made very simple with the baby and parents in mind. The main idea is to help parents easily and effectively swaddle their newborn. A few flaps and fold and the baby will securely be bundled up ready to sleep soundly through the night. Then parents too can have a longer rest and with a well-rested child he or she will be better organised and less fuzzy and finicky the next day.

Swaddling newborns, and older babies up until they can roll, has proven to reduce the incidence of SIDS by making it easier to keep babies asleep on their backs, it reduces the startle reflex, and helps baby feel snug and secure just like in the womb. The Miracle Blanket makes swaddling easier and keeps baby snugly swaddled for longer. When baby is old enough to stop being swaddled, it might be time to consider trying some baby sleeping bags instead.

The Miracle Blanket is very well constructed. It is designed to be washed regularly and used daily. It is also built to apply slight pressure to the stomach to help with gas and colic. It is made from soft, stretch cotton and is over 6 feet wide.

For more help with getting your baby to sleep well, see Elizabeth Pantley’s sleep tips, or read her book The No Cry Sleep Solution.

Your Baby’s Sleep: Swaddling Newborns

sleeping baby wrapped in a Cocooi Babywrap Newborn Baby Swaddle and Cap, Natural Color,
sleeping baby wrapped in a Cocooi Babywrap Newborn Baby Swaddle and Cap, Natural Color,
Cocooi Babywrap Newborn Baby Swaddle and Cap, 100% Natural Soft Merino Wool

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.

Why swaddle?

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.