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How to swaddle, step-by-step

How to swaddle, step-by-step
Getting your swaddling techniques down-pat may seem a little overwhelming, but wrapping up your baby just takes a few steps. Here's how to swaddle a blanket, including how to swaddle a baby with their arms out, plus advice about how to tackle the swaddling of a wiggly baby:

1: Find a level surface
Lay out your baby's swaddle blanket in the shape of a diamond with one corner pointing to a flat surface (such as the centre of your bed). Fold the top corner to around 15cm

2: Place your little one face-up on the blanket.
Her head should rest on the folded edge of the blanket, and her body should stretch straight down to the bottom corner.

3: Straighten the left arm of your little one
Then take the left side of the blanket and wrap it around their left arm and chest. Tuck the blanket under their right arm and under their back. Your child's left arm will be covered at this stage, but their right arm will be open.

4: Fold the bottom up
Fold the bottom corner of the blanket over your little one’s body and place it under the first fold, under their chin. Straighten your little one's right arm and draw the right side of the blanket over their body and tuck it under their left side.

5: Check the blanket
Loosely twist the bottom of the swaddle and tuck it underneath your little one.

You will become a swaddling expert in no time at all. But if you feel uncertain at all, just ask your baby's pediatrician. He or she can review your swaddle skills and share some helpful tips if you don't get it right.

Swaddling safety
Sleeping babies and blankets usually don't mix, but does that make swaddling dangerous?

It's true that swaddling is not risk-free altogether. But the American Academy of Pediatrics ( AAP) says that swaddling will facilitate better snoozing for your infant as long as it is done properly and performed in compliance with other recommendations for healthy sleep.

Swaddle covers that are too loose or unwrapped during sleep can cover the face of a baby and create the potential for suffocation.

The danger is increased by the fact that swaddled babies appear to sleep better, and so if swaddle blankets cover their faces, they might be less likely to wake up and shift positions.

Swaddle blankets that are too snug aren't good either, particularly around the hips of your baby. Tight swaddles push their legs, which can hurt their hips, joints and cartilage, into an unnaturally straight posture.

The bottom of the swaddle should be loose enough to promote healthy hip development.

Swaddling will encourage your little one to sleep more soundly while giving you peace of mind (so you can get some sleep yourself!) but here are some quick safety tips to bear in mind:

  • Swaddle tightly, but not too tightly - You should be able to fit 2 to 3 fingers at the top of the swaddle between the blanket and your baby's chest. The bottom of the swaddle should be fairly loose so that the legs of your baby are bent and flared out.
  • Always place your baby on their back to sleep - If you swaddle or not, it's the safest position. Make sure that the bottom of the blanket is also tucked under your baby.
  • Keep your baby cool - Swaddling can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), due to causing overheating. Be careful to keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable (between 20 and 22 degrees all year round). A onesie and the swaddle blanket are enough to keep her warm, avoid the temptation to wrap your baby in extra blankets. Signs that your baby might be too hot are sweating, wet hair, flushed cheeks, heat rash, and fast breathing.
  • Swaddle for nighttime and naps - Swaddling can help your child sleep better during the day and at night. If tucking her in a little burrito blanket for hours of the night makes you anxious, know that as long as you stick to healthy swaddling and sleeping instructions, swaddling in bedtime is no more dangerous than swaddling in the nap. You're still going to have plenty of built-in chances to check on her, as she wakes up regularly to eat. But if monitoring her swaddle when she sleeps gives you extra peace of mind, take the time to look as often as you like.