Baby Swaddling Basics

When my first child was a baby, she was a very light sleeper. It didn’t help that when she did fall asleep she would swat herself in the face with her flailing limbs and wake up crying. I turned to Dr. Sears’ Baby Book for answers. He suggested swaddling. I followed the step-by-step instructions in every detail. I wrapped my daughter up like a burrito, and she slept. We only needed to do this for a few months.

There are quite a few swaddling blankets available on the market now, but I didn’t use anything special. I used lightweight, flannel receiving blankets. I tried using an open weave cotton knit blanket, but I got a better tight wrap with the lightweight, smooth, plain weave.

Keep in mind:

  • Don’t wrap the baby too tight
  • Don’t cover the baby’s face
  • Don’t leave the baby swaddled all night (pediatricians like Dr Sears discourages this)

It’s much easier to understand the swaddling process if you can see it done. If you don’t have a parent nearby who is experienced in swaddling to show you how to swaddle your baby, watch this short video. Very straightforward and still includes great tips.

Not every baby wants or needs to be swaddled. My daughter really needed it, so I tried it with my son when he was born. He hated swaddling. He didn’t have any trouble sleeping or settling down, so we just skipped it. Be sure to be sensitive to your baby’s own cues when you decide whether and how to swaddle.

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