Nov 08 , 2018
Three Ways to Swaddle a Baby
For a very long time I was under the impression there was only one way to swaddle a newborn. The diamond swaddle was the only technique I knew.
Luckily, for those of us who like to have options, there are three excellent swaddling techniques. Life is not the same every day, our time and patience for day-to-day operations of motherhood changes, and so can our swaddling techniques.
1. The diamond swaddle
- Lay a blanket down on a safe, flat place for baby in a diamond shape/position with the top-most corner folded down 4-6 inches for baby’s head.
- Lay baby down on their back in the center of the blanket with their neck on the folded corner.
- Pull the left side over and snugly tuck under baby, making sure to keep baby’s hips loose. Never pull their legs straight or force their joints as this could cause hip dysplasia.
- Pull the bottom corner up and over baby’s left shoulder and then wrap the last corner all the way around baby and tuck into the little blanket pocket you’ve created on their front.
Remember to avoid having the blanket rub up against baby’s cheek, because it can cause baby to begin rooting at a time when you do not want them to.
It’s okay if your baby swaddle doesn’t look picture-perfect the first time, or the second time, or even the third time. Take a breath, take your time, and keep trying. Your baby might be crying, and you’ll want to cry too, because you can’t get their little arms to stay in, but you will get it. Remember, many babies calm down once they feel that security in the swaddle.
Some people maintain that swaddling a baby is a one-two-three process. I have found it can sometimes take more steps than that. If the diamond swaddle isn’t for you, don’t worry, there are other ways.
2. Square swaddle or quick swaddle
- Lay a blanket down in a safe, flat place for baby in a square shape/position folding the top right corner down about 4-6 inches for baby’s head.
- Lay baby down on their back on the blanket with their neck at the top of the fold; baby will be diagonal across the blanket.
- Pull the right side over and snugly tuck under baby (always making sure they have frog legs/loose hips).
- Pull the left side over, and snugly tuck under baby.
- Tuck the bottom of the blanket behind baby and you’re good to go.
Similar to this illustration, except tucking the bottom of blanket behind your baby.
The diamond swaddle seems beautifully perfect and what I always imagine when I think of a quintessential swaddle. Sometimes life does not allow for the perfect swaddle, however. Life is messy; the water is boiling over in the pot, you have that deadline to meet, and taking fifteen minutes to try to swaddle baby is unrealistic (though with practice, the diamond doesn’t have to take so long).
Sometimes time is against us, other children demand our attention, or you just need to calm baby down so you can get work done (or watch Netflix). Whatever the reason, the square swaddle can be just as effective as the diamond swaddle in calming baby but takes a fraction of the time.
Looking for an even faster option?
3. Sleep sack swaddle
This method involves a special sleepsack swaddle, but once you’ve got one it’s super simple.
- Put baby in sleep sack like you would a onesie or footie pajamas
- Zip sleep sack
- Wrap and Velcro
These steps will vary depending on which product you purchase and prefer. We will show you some of our favorites later on in this article. Whether you don’t have enough time or want the simplicity of not having to wrap baby “just so,” a sleep sack is a fine option.
Does Swaddling Work for All Babies?
No. Some children will resist swaddling like the plague. At the same time, you want to try several different swaddles before giving up completely; but bottom line, some children will not be comforted by a swaddle so never force it to work.
A Baby Swaddle is Not Appropriate For:
- Co-sleeping babies because they cannot move covers from their face or alert their parents when they are too close.
- Babies who actively resist swaddling—this is meant to be a comfort, not a punishment.
- Babies who can roll over, so around 2 months (or 8 weeks) old.
- Babies at a higher risk of SIDS.
- Babies in hot environments (especially homes without air conditioning), as baby could be dangerously overheated.
If your baby does not like being swaddled, try wrapping him or her in a lightweight blanket or trying the sleep sack option, as the tight restrained feeling might be what your baby is resisting.
Never put baby to bed with loose bedding or blankets, however, as that is a suffocation risk. Always place baby down to sleep on his or her back.
When to Stop Swaddling?
It is important to remember that swaddling is not recommended once baby can roll over, as the blanket begins to pose a risk for suffocation. Many parents stop swaddling baby after one month when she begins to hold her head up.