Swaddling a baby is an ancient technique which has been used again in recent years to calm and give security to newborn babies, giving them a comfort similar to that of the mother’s womb.
When the baby is born, they come out of, effectively, a little bag in which they felt warm and protected. Upon reaching the world, they feel lost with so much space around them. For this reason, when swaddled, many babies feel relaxed, confident and safe.
But how to swaddle a newborn baby? To properly swaddle your baby, there are three very practical ways and in this article, we will explain each one of them.
How to Swaddle a Baby
The Quick Method of swaddling a baby is a quick and very simple technique, which can be done in four steps. Remember that to properly swaddle the baby you need a soft, not too thick, square handkerchief blanket between 1 and 1.20 meters long on each side.
The steps to perform the quick method are as follows:
- Step 1: Spread the fabric or blanket you will use, forming a square, and place the baby right in the center, with his head off the fabric or blanket.
- Step 2: Pass one of the upper corners of the fabric or blanket over the baby’s opposite shoulder, holding it under his back. The arms can be completely covered with their hands out.
- Step 3: Here you will have to do the same with the opposite corner, making sure none of the cloth or blanket covers the baby’s face or mouth.
- Step 4: Finally, fold the fabric that has been loose down and tuck it in at the baby’s shoulders.
Surrounded by the fabric or blanket, it holds firmly but not tightly, so that the baby feels safe and at peace.
The Australian Method is a technique that allows you to swaddle a baby like a little worm. It is a bit more laborious than the Quick Method, but it is very practical.
To perform this method we must follow these steps:
- Step 1: Lay the fabric or blanket in a diamond shape and fold the upper corner down, forming a kind of small pillow on which the baby’s shoulders will rest. Then place the baby on the blanket, with his head out and his shoulders over the “pillow.”
- Step 2: Place the baby’s right hand parallel to their body, so that the elbow is slightly flexed. Now take the cloth or blanket that is on your left and pass it under the left arm (that is outside the blanket) and then carefully tuck it under their back.
- Step 3: Finally, fold the fabric peak from the bottom up. Now leave the baby’s arm parallel to the body, with the elbow slightly flexed. Then take the end of the fabric that is loose on your right-hand side, cross it over the baby’s body and tuck it over their right shoulder.
As a result, the baby will be very well swaddled and warm.
The Hands-Free Method is a technique that is very similar to the Australian Method but allows the baby to have their hands free, for greater freedom of movement.
The steps to perform the hands-free method are as follows:
- Step 1: Lay the fabric or blanket out in diamond shape and fold the upper corner down, forming a kind of small pillow on which the baby’s shoulders will rest. Place the baby in the center of the fabric with their head out and shoulders over the “pillow.”
- Step 2: Now place the baby’s right hand parallel to their body, so that the elbow is slightly flexed. Then grab the fabric that is on your left, run it under their left arm (that is outside the blanket) and carefully tuck it under their back.
- Step 3: Fold the peak of the fabric or blanket from the bottom up. Now leave the baby’s arm parallel to the body, with the elbow slightly flexed. Then take the end of the fabric or blanket that is loose, cross it over the baby and tuck it under their right shoulder.
- Step 4: This step is optional but if the baby prefers to have their hands out of the fabric or blanket but their arms in, you can fold their arms at chest height so that their hands are free.
Remember that it is important to perform these methods firmly. For best results, avoid having the fabric or blanket be too loose.
How Long Should You Swaddle a Baby For?
Some hospitals and clinics already use the swaddle system for newborn babies. During the three to five days following birth (the usual length of time a baby is in hospital) they are kept swaddled, very calm and at ease.
So, if your baby is restless and waving their arms and legs once at home, why not try it? Many babies can only fall asleep using this technique.
However, after those initial days post-birth, it is not recommended to use this process for long periods, but instead for short periods just before sleeping to promote sleep, calm a crying baby or relieve colic.
Tips for Swaddling
Finally, these are some suggestions from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for swaddling the newborn baby:
- Place your baby on their back and supervise them to make sure that they do not turn over while swaddled.
- Do not leave loose blankets in your baby’s crib, including the blanket you use to swaddle him. You must verify that it is not loose before leaving them.
- The baby will always be safer in his crib when being swaddled.
- Swaddling can increase the chance that your baby will overheat. If you notice sweat, moistened hair, rosy cheeks, a rash (miliary) or rapid breathing, your baby may be too hot, and you should unswaddle them.
- Use specialist-recommended newborn baby blankets for swaddling.
If you enjoyed this article, take a look what Dr. Maria Dojçe thinks about First Baby Solids.