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​Why, When & How to Swaddle Your Newborn Baby

​Why, When & How to Swaddle Your Newborn Baby

Love To Dream's complete guide to swaddling your newborn

We understand how overwhelmed you may feel as a parent when you can’t get your newborn baby to sleep. Your little one’s comfort is so important, but it doesn’t have to come at the expense of your own rest. It’s likely that when your baby first returned from the hospital nursery, the nurses had wrapped them up like an adorable baby burrito. This is swaddling: an easy technique used since ancient times to help your baby feel calm and comforted. Figuring out how to swaddle can be intimidating at first, but Love to Dream is here to help.

Think about your newborn as having just moved out of home for the first time. The outside world is vastly different to the comforting confines of the womb, and your baby’s first few months will be spent adjusting to this life. Swaddling works by imitating the cosy warmth your little one experienced in utero, and makes this adjustment gentler and more gradual. This all leads to snug, sound sleep - for you, and your little one.

Hana Krawchuk (founder of Love To Dream™) and registered midwife, nurse and Founder of Birth Beat Edwina Sharrock provide in-depth and helpful answers to the questions you may have. Watch the video to learn more.

Why should you swaddle your baby?

Who wouldn’t want to feel wrapped up nice and snug on a cold night before drifting off to sleep? Swaddling provides your newborn with the comfort, warmth, and security that helps encourage a deeper sleep. But it also addresses specific behaviours that may be causing your little one to frequently wake.

Have you ever had a dream where you feel like you’re falling, and the moment you do, you wake up and “trip over” yourself while lying in bed? Newborns experience something similar called the startle reflex: an involuntary extension of their arms and legs that interrupts their sleep. Swaddling reduces the startle reflex infants experience by keeping them snug and secure, while also preventing them from instinctively scratching their cute little face.

To reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) it is recommended to follow the Safer Sleep Guidelines. These safer sleeping guidelines are created to target known risk factors associated with sleeping accidents, and when followed, can help to keep your swaddled baby sleeping safely and soundly.

By swaddling, you’re also creating the pleasant conditions that will encourage your little one to sleep deeper and more soundly, giving you peace of mind and the chance to catch your own shuteye. Plus, consistently swaddling your baby will kickstart their recognition of the rhythms of bedtime, which will help them understand being swaddled as a cue for drifting off to safe, quiet sleep.

When should you start swaddling your baby?

It’s likely your nurses were swaddling your little one while still in the hospital - perhaps they even gave you a demonstration of how to do it yourself! That means it’s a good idea to start swaddling from day one. It’s so important to establish a sleep routine as soon as possible, and to build positive sleep cues and familiarity between your baby and their swaddle.

The sooner your little one gets used to this routine, the sooner you’ll be getting a better night’s sleep yourself. Then, when your baby is ready to transition away from swaddling, the warm, nurturing feel of a swaddle will be familiar to them as they try out a cosy transition suit or transition bag.

How to swaddle a baby

Taking special care with this step-by-step guide should allow you to perfect the technique of swaddling your baby. With practice, you’ll master your own swaddling routine that works for you both.

Step 1: Temperature Check

Consider the temperature of the room and of your baby. Love to Dream has a TOG rating guide you can use to select the appropriate sleep garment. Temperature regulation is essential; ensuring the room is not too hot or too cold can reduce the risk of SIDS. Consider room heaters or air-conditioners, drafts and windows. The optimal temperature will support your baby to sleep soundly.

Step 2: Safety Check

Avoid the use of any loose items or blankets in the cot or bassinet to ensure no fabric can come up above your baby’s face to cover their nose or mouth. Make sure no hanging cords are within reach, including electrical and blind cords. Ensure your baby has a firm surface to sleep on: either a cot, bassinet or portable crib with a tight fitted sheet. Download our safer sleep guide for more information.

Step 3: Choose Your Swaddle

Love To Dream offers many swaddle options in different prints, colours, and TOG ratings. Consider the season and general temperature of your baby’s room over the next four months, and select one or more swaddles in TOG ratings that will be appropriate for the duration. For example, if it’s winter, a Warm 2.5 TOG Swaddle or Warm 3.5 TOG Swaddle would be appropriate. If it’s summer, consider something on the lower end of the TOG rating, such as a Lite 0.2 TOG Swaddle. If you choose a swaddle that can be opened from the lower end, any nappy or diaper changes won’t disturb the baby, they can stay sleeping throughout.

Step 4: Time to swaddle

Lay your chosen swaddle down on a flat, safe surface then gently place your baby on top. Wrap or zip up the swaddle ensuring there are no loose ends or open parts, with their arms inside the wings (if your chosen swaddle has them). You want to ensure your baby is not swaddled too tight and full hip flexion is possible, as this is recommended for healthy hip development.

Step 1: Place your baby's legs inside the swaddle. Step 2: Place your baby's arms inside the swaddle's wings. Step 3: Zip up the swaddle, ensuring it is not too tight.

Now place your baby down to rest in their sleeping space. It’s important to have your baby sleep on their back. Do not place them on their sides or stomach.

How long should you keep swaddling your baby?

Now that you have the hang of swaddling, we have no doubt your Love To Dream Swaddle has made life more comfortable for your little one, and easier for you. After the first few months, you’ll be ready for the next step in your parenting journey: transitioning your baby to the next step of their sleep phase.

If your baby shows signs of attempting to roll over onto their tummy, you must stop swaddling, to ensure your little one’s safety. If they aren’t showing signs trying to roll over yet, but are resisting being swaddled – or become unsettled when being swaddled – it's also a sign that you should attempt to stop swaddling. This could occur from as early as 2 months, but more commonly happens around 3 to 4 months.

At that point, it’s time to start dressing them in a transition garment when it’s bedtime. Transition bags and transition suits differ from swaddles by having zip off wings that allow one or both of your baby’s arms to be free as they sleep. Remember: each little one is preciously unique, so you’ll need to pay close attention to their tired signs and sleep cues. Your baby will show you when they’re ready to transition!

Try our Love To Dream Swaddles for newborns and babies

As intimidating as swaddling can be, we have no doubt that our Love To Dream range of swaddles, sleep bags, and sleep suits will help you quickly perfect your technique. For the simplest, easiest swaddle to start with, we recommend the Love To Dream Swaddle Up, our innovative swaddle which allows your baby to sleep with their arms raised. This allows them access to their hands for self soothing, which helps them sleep longer, on top of being swaddled! This can be used from day one, so why not even pack one in your hospital bag?

After a few months, your newborn will be ready to progress from our Swaddle Up to a Transition Bag or Transition Suit. These ensure minimal disruption to your baby’s sleep cycle as they start becoming more independent and active. In fact, the entire Love To Dream range has been designed with sleep-deprived parents and babies in mind, which is why a good night’s sleep is just a Swaddle Up away. Shop here.

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