How to swaddle your newborn baby

by Melissa Jane Cook
Baby Yum Yum - How to swaddle your newborn baby
Reading Time: 3 minutes

There is more to swaddling than just wrapping your newborn baby in a blanket. The baby swaddle mimics the womb, comforts and protects your baby from sensory over-stimulation.

Swaddling is simply wrapping your baby to mimic the secure feeling they experienced while in utero. Jolandi Becker, Good Night Consultant and Consultant Facilitator tells BabyYumYum: “Swaddling is ideal for newborn babies (0 to 3 months), and thereafter it is best to start transitioning out of the swaddle – first one arm for two nights, then the other arm for two nights, and then the chest for two nights. You want to encourage movement and get baby used to their own body and mobility. Newborn babies do not have control over their limbs, thus swaddling assists with hampering movements.”

“Swaddling sparks a ‘relaxation’ mechanism in infants that encourages a nurturing, gentle feeling of security, warmth and comfort.”

The benefits of swaddling

World-famous American paediatrician Dr Harvey Karp celebrates the magical qualities of swaddling that soothes crying babies and lulls them to sleep. He believes that swaddling sparks a “relaxation” mechanism in infants that encourages a nurturing, gentle feeling of security, warmth and comfort.

How to Swaddle Your Baby

According to Becker, swaddling offers these benefits:

  • Swaddling babies prevent unnecessary awakenings caused by the startle reflex and so can help with longer sleep.
  • Reduces face scratching.
  • Makes a baby feel that there are always arms around them.
  • Helps with sleep safety – you can always have baby sleep on their back.
  • Babies experience less anxiety.
  • Soothes babies with colic 

How to swaddle your cherub

  1. Find a flat surface and lay a square blanket down so it forms the shape of a diamond. Fold the top corner down toward the centre of the diamond forming a straight line.
  2. Place your baby on their back on the blanket so the neck is situated on the top edge.
  3. Carefully hold your baby’s left arm down along their side. (Make sure their arms aren’t bent, as they can then wriggle out of the swaddle.) Take the blanket about 10 cm from baby’s left shoulder and pull it down and across their body tightly, tucking it securely underneath them on the opposite side.
  4. Take the bottom corner and lift it up over your baby’s legs and right arm, fitting that corner behind their right shoulder. Make sure you keep it loose, so your baby’s legs and feet can move around.
  5. Take the remaining corner, pull it tightly across your baby’s body (again making sure the arm is straight), and fold it comfortably underneath them on the opposite side. Ensure that the swaddle is snug and cosy and won’t unwrap.

Watch a step-by-step tutorial here.

Becker concludes that swaddling can prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). However, there is no longer any need to cocoon them when they are more mobile and can roll over themselves.

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