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Swaddling 101

Swaddling the newborn phase can be really helpful to get your baby to sleep and help them stay

asleep for longer stretches. Swaddling is soothing for newborns as it mimics the feeling of being in the

womb. When using a proper swaddling technique, you may find an instant calming effect if you are having a hard time getting your baby to settle. Swaddling also eliminates the need for loose blankets in the basinet or crib and acts as a cue that sleep time is approaching. Some babies take to swaddling immediately, with noticeable improvement, and others need some time to get used to being swaddled. It is normal for your baby to try to fight the swaddle at first, but with some rocking motion/gentle bounce, with a pacifier and "shushing" you will notice your baby start to calm, and become very cozy in their little cocoon.

Safe Swaddling

Swaddling can help calm the moro (startle) reflex that newborns are innately equipped with and often

causes your little one to wake abruptly. The swaddle can help recreate the feeling of being in the womb and

is one of the quickest ways to calm a newborn! It can be a helpful tool during that fourth trimester, but it’s

important to swaddle safely. Here are a few tips to ensure you are swaddling safely:

Back to Sleep

Placing your baby on their back for all sleep is even more important if your little one is being swaddled.

Once your baby begins showing signs of rolling, it is time to transition out.

Thin Blanket

Swaddling should always be done with a thin blanket or a product specifically designed for swaddling.

When swaddling, it’s more likely for your baby to overheat, so it is important that they are dressed

appropriately and monitored closely.

From the Shoulders Down

The swaddle should always remain below your baby’s face and nose to ensure their airway is unobstructed.

Loose at the Hips

While swaddled, your baby should always have free movement of their legs and hips. Their legs should be

able to bend up and out at the hips, to encourage the natural development of their hip joints and prevent hip


Not Too Tight or Too Loose

You should always be able to fit two fingers between the swaddle and your baby’s chest. If the blanket is

too loose, it can become unwrapped and obstruct your baby’s airway and if it is too tight, if can make it

difficult for your baby to breathe.

Stop When Your Baby Shows Signs of Rolling

Swaddling can be beneficial, but it is important to make the transition before your baby starts rolling.

Typically babies begin to learn this skill around 3-4 months, but some being as early as 2 months old.

To ensure the safest swaddling practice and eliminate some concerns, it can be helpful to use a product

designed specifically for swaddling. A couple of our favourite swaddles are The Ollie Swaddle and The

SwaddleMe Swaddle.

Swaddle Transition

Swaddling can be beneficial, but it is important to make the transition before your baby starts rolling.

Typically babies begin to learn this skill around 3-4 months, but some begin as early as 2 months old.

Before your baby starts rolling, you’ll probably notice that they are getting stronger and are better able to

keep their head up during tummy time. They may begin to lift their head up more and push up with their

arms. Like any transition with a new baby, the transition out of the swaddle can be nerve wracking. Here

are a few tips to make the transition as smooth as possible!

Cold Turkey

If your baby has suddenly started to roll onto their tummy, it is really important to stop using a swaddle to

ensure their safety. The swaddle transition will likely result in a few tough nights, so some just like to get it

over with! Pick a night and use a sleep sack instead of the swaddle and continue with the sleep sack for

naps the next day.

Slow Transition

If your swaddle allows it, start by swaddling your baby with their left arm out for 3 nights and 3 days. Next,

swaddle your baby with their right arm out for 3 nights and 3 days. On the 6 th day, swaddle your little one

with both arms out (if your swaddle is suitable for this) or put them in their sleep sack! This method allows

a slow transition, so your baby can adjust gradually to their newfound freedom.

Early Transition

If you want to get a head start or if your baby often breaks free from their swaddle during the night, try for

an early transition by allowing them to sleep with their arms free for the remainder of the night once they

get out of their swaddle. If your baby isn’t breaking free from their swaddle, you can actively do this

method by freeing their arms during their night time feed and allowing them to have their arms free for the

rest of the night. If trying this method, it is important that the swaddle is tight enough on their torso to

ensure that it does not ride up and cover their face.

Whichever method you choose, be sure to replace the swaddle with a sleep sack. This will act as a sleep

cue just as the swaddle did and allows you to continue putting your baby to sleep without a blanket, which

is really important for safe sleep! If you don’t already use a sound machine for your baby, now would be a

great time to start. This pairs nicely with the sleep sack to act as another sleep cue to prepare your baby for

nap and bedtime. It will also help your little one settle throughout the night, should that pesky moro reflex

wake them once they’ve transitioned out of the swaddle.

Like any other transition, the swaddle transition can be a tough one. Just remember, this is a phase and

you’ll be on the other side of it in no time. Shortly after the swaddle transition, your baby will likely start

rolling onto their belly during sleep and this may help their stretches of sleep lengthen. If you’re struggling,

please don’t hesitate to reach out for a personalized sleep plan for your little one. We are always here to provide support and guidance throughout your little ones sleep journey.

Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant

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