People have been swaddling their newborns for thousands of years, but it’s still easy to be stumped by this practice. So, what exactly is swaddling? Swaddling is wrapping a baby in a swaddle blanket or other cloth, with the baby's arms secured in place close to its body.
Swaddling a baby helps your little one feel safe and secure, as it simulates the sensation of being in the snug embrace of their mother's womb.
But there are so many more uses for swaddle blankets, from nursing covers to baby tummy time mats, and even playing peekaboo games with your little one. Keep reading to find out how to swaddle a baby with a blanket, why swaddling is important, and ten other uses for a swaddle blanket!
HOW TO SWADDLE A BABY
The first question that comes up for swaddling blankets is the most basic: how to swaddle a baby. Babies are comforted by being swaddled, as it makes them feel like they are still in the womb, and many find that swaddling also helps them go back to sleep when they wake up in the middle of the night. But what’s the right way of swaddling a baby? The following are the steps for how to swaddle a baby properly:
- Use a thin muslin blanket or receiving blanket that is big enough to comfortably cover the baby's body (so they can't kick off the blanket) and long enough to go from their feet all the way up to their neck. The blanket should be light for summer babies, but warm for winter babies.
- Lay the baby down on a flat surface, like a changing table or bed, on top of a flat towel orsnuggle blanket that is clean and free from loose threads, as you don't want to risk scratching the baby.
- Pull the left side (baby’s left) of the fabric up over their left shoulder and tuck it under their right arm, which should be loosely wrapped in the blanket.
- Tuck the right side of the fabric around their bottom half. You may want to tuck a blanket underneath them to help keep them warm.
- Wrap the material snugly around their bottom half again and tuck it firmly behind them. The material should not touch their face or head during swaddling.
ADVANTAGES OF SWADDLING
As mentioned above, different swaddle techniques are used to calm and soothe babies. But that’s not all swaddling a baby offers! It has many more advantages:
- A swaddled baby will likelysleep longer than one who isn't, because their arms will be kept close to the body, preventing arm flailing and the risk of waking up.
- Swaddling can helpprevent infant colic by calming them down when they're experiencing gas pains.
- Babies who are swaddled tend to cry less, eat better, and even gain weight faster.
- It helps the development of the hand muscles byencouraging grasping reflexes.
- It keeps their little hands away from their face, which is great because babies tend to scratch themselves a lot.
- Because swaddling a baby helps them stay asleep longer, it also helps parents get more restful sleep.
NOTE: If you're worried about SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), always use a firm sleep surface like a crib mattress and watch for signs of overheating: sweating, excessive redness.
WHEN TO STOP SWADDLING YOUR BABY
The answer is simple: when they canroll over and thus no longer need the feeling of security, or when they resist being swaddled, whichever comes first.
Generally speaking, by around 4 months old, babies start to develop the ability to roll over. They also begin to realize that they can control how tightly they are wrapped up with those blankets, diapers, and clothes. They start to get frustrated by the tightness and will try to kick out of it.
If your baby can roll over, you should stop swaddling them immediately. You don't want them to accidentally roll onto their stomach or face (which can happen if they're wrapped too tightly).
You also don't want them to become accustomed to being swaddled all the time. Babies who are used to being tightly wrapped may not know how to fall asleep without it and may have trouble sleeping when there is no blanket involved.
Remember: When you stop swaddling your baby, provide some alternative methods for them to feel comforted, e.g., short- or long-sleeve onesie, pajamas, etc.
THE RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH SWADDLING TOO TIGHTLY:
The benefits of swaddling are real, but there are also some risks associated with it.
Babies like to be swaddled snugly. It soothes them and makes them feel secure. But sometimes, wrapping themtoo tightly can cause breathing problems. The decrease in oxygen may possibly be a contributor toSIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
When it comes to swaddling, safety is number one. Swaddling should be done loosely enough that there’s plenty of room for the baby's arms and legs.
Parents who swaddle their babies should be aware of the risk of overheating. The tighter a baby is swaddled, the less they'll be able to move around, which means that their body temperature can rise too high. This can result in excessive sweating, irritability, and crying.
3. HIP DYSPLASIA
Swaddling with too-tight wraps can also causehip dysplasia or other musculoskeletal disorders. Adequate space should be allowed between the baby's limbs so they can move without restriction.
TIPS AND TRICKS FOR SWADDLING A BABY
Here are a few interesting tips and tricks for swaddling a baby:
- Don't let your baby get too hot! Place a thin cotton blanket over him to provide extra warmth and breathability.
- Be sure to use only soft, thin muslin or other breathable fabrics that are not scratchy.
- You need to be able to fit two fingers comfortably between the fabric and your baby's chest.
- The pins shouldn't be longer than three inches, so they don't pose a safety hazard.
- Be careful not to wrap too tightly. You want your baby to feel snug and secure, but also able to move her legs freely without being constricted by the wrap.
- If your baby seems distressed by being wrapped or is starting to fuss and can't settle, unwrap them!
OTHER USES FOR A SWADDLE BLANKET
Aswaddle blanket is one of the most practical baby items you can buy. It has so many more uses than just swaddling, and each new use is a lifesaver! From stroller canopies to baby tummy time mats and more, you’ll be glad you have this useful little item. So, if you're still in swaddling mode, here are some ideas for how to get even more use out of your swaddle blanket.
AS A STROLLER COVER
You can use a swaddle blanket as a stroller cover. The fabric is breathable and lightweight, so it won't be too hot for your little one, and with the wide array of adorable prints available, you'll never mind having it show up in pictures from your outings with the baby. Moreover, a large swaddle blanket can keep your little one warm while you're out in the cold.
USE AS A SUNSHADE
Here's another useful travel hack when traveling with a baby: instead of buying a car sunshade that takes up space in your bag and can get dirty or be forgotten at the last minute, just use a swaddle blanket.
Simply drape the blanket over an open window and spread it evenly, so it covers the window on all sides. This keeps away sunlight that might get in your little one’s eyes, and gives you quiet time while driving!
AS A NURSING COVER
For those times you need to nurse in public without drawing too much attention to yourself, simply drape your swaddling blanket over your shoulders like a shawl. A large, thick swaddle blanket can act as an effective nursing cover or be layered under another nursing cover for more coverage and comfort.
AS A BURP CLOTH
Another thing you can do with swaddling blankets is use them as burp cloths for when your child spits up or drools. A swaddle blanket is lightweight enough to fold and carry it wherever you go, yet absorbent enough to provide relief when burping time comes. The material soaks up any excess spit-up or spilled milk very well, keeping your baby's clothes clean and dry.
AS A CAR SEAT COVER
A baby's carseat can get pretty dirty over the course of its life, so you'll want to ensure that you always keep it clean and smelling fresh! Using a protective cover can help prevent diaper blowouts and make cleaning the car seat easier, since you can just swap it out when there are spills.
Moreover, when you're going to use your car seat's shoulder straps around your infant, you might want to consider tucking a swaddle blanket around them first. The extra layer of fabric will help prevent chafing from the straps.
USE AS A PLAY MAT
Swaddle blankets are big, soft, and super-sized, perfect for growing babies and active kids. They make great floor mats for tummy time, playtime, and nap time! The best part is that they're made with high-quality cotton material, so they're not just cute, but durable as well. Plus, they come in a fun package that makes it easy to store or give as anewborn Christmas gift.
AS A CHANGING PAD COVER
You can also use a swaddle blanket as your diaper-changing pad. Swaddling blankets are usually quite large, so they'll easily cover up the entire surface of your changing table. They're also made from soft cotton or muslin fabric that feels great against your little one's skin. Swaddling also makes it easier for you to change diapers, because the blanket keeps your baby in place while you do so.
What's more, most swaddling blankets are machine-washable, which means there's no need for special laundry detergent or extra care when cleaning them.
USE TO PROTECT FURNITURE
Let's face it, babies just can't help spilling, drooling, and making a mess. Luckily, you can protect your nice furniture with swaddle blankets! To use a swaddling blanket as a protector for your furniture, simply place it over any piece of furniture that you want to protect from baby spit-up and drool. This will keep your furniture safe from accidents and stains.
AS A BLANKET IN THE CRIB
That's right, when your baby has outgrown swaddling, and it's time for them to go into their crib, simply tuck the blanket under them, and voila! You've got a makeshift crib blanket. We know it sounds too good to be true, but we promise that it is.
Swaddling blankets are made with cotton or muslin fabrics, which makes them breathable. It also allows airflow throughout the fabric, keeping babies at a comfortable temperature all night long. They also come in different designs, colors, and prints, so you will always find one that fits the nursery.
USE AS A SCARF
You can even use a swaddling blanket as a scarf in the colder months! When it's cold outside, and the wind is nipping at your cheeks, try wrapping a swaddling blanket around your neck like a scarf. This is a great way to stay warm while also looking stylish.
THE BOTTOM LINE FOR HOW TO SWADDLE A BABY
Swaddling a baby is an ancient practice that helps a newborn transition from womb to world. That doesn’t automatically make it easy or common-sense, though, so don’t feel bad if it takes a little practice to get used to swaddling your baby.
A swaddle blanket is a must-have for any new parent, and can be used for so many things in addition to its primary purpose. We hope you found this article helpful for learning swaddling techniques as well as the many uses for swaddling blankets—see how many new ways you can think of to make use of yours!