There’s no sight quite as sweet as a newborn baby bundled in a swaddling blanket. This practice of tightly wrapping an infant from the neck down is touted by many as a cure-all for fussiness in babies. Swaddling mimics the warmth and comfort of the womb, offering enough calm to ensure longer sleep times for many little ones. This practice is as old as time, with many traditional cultures turning to this wrapping method to soothe their babies. When done correctly and safely, swaddling can mean the difference between a full-out scream session and an hour or two of restful sleep.
There’s no dictate that says you must swaddle your child, though many new parents find it’s an effective tool. You may find your newborn resists the swaddle, inches a tiny fist out, or even breaks free of your wrap entirely. Before you throw in the towel, consider experimenting with a different mode of swaddling. Once you find the right wrap, you may be surprised at how well your child responds to feeling snug and secure.
There are a host of swaddling options in every fabric and style imaginable. We suggest test-driving a few designs to learn which works best for both you and baby.
A basic muslin swaddle is often an oversized baby blanket in a lightweight and breathable fabric. There are a bevy of supremely beautiful options on the market, ranging from the classic Aiden + Anais blankets to new, whimsical designs by Little Coyuchi. These swaddles are versatile and can be used for stroller covers, toddler blankets, or nursing covers as well. The downside? Because there’s so much fabric to work with, swaddling with a muslin blanket can be cumbersome and even potentially dangerous if you don’t secure your little one tight enough. Muslin blankets are best left to seasoned swaddlers, or for use during supervised naps.
The gold standard for simple swaddling, a light cotton wrap with velcro wings is perfect for your first foray into baby-wrapping. Using this swaddle is a no-brainer; just lay out the device, slip baby in the longest pouch, and match the velcro across baby’s chest, securing his or her arms in place. One drawback is that velcro tends to wear down after everyday use. To extend this swaddle’s life, always attach the velcro pieces to one another before putting it through the washing machine. Once the velcro has lost its grip, it’s either time to replace the sticking component or the swaddle entirely. Remember that it’s never safe to put your baby to sleep amongst loose blankets.
For truly squirmy babies (or their hesitant parents), a zippered swaddle is a safe option. This variety looks like a long pocket and provides an easy route to wrapping your little one. Simply tuck your baby’s feet in and hold his or her arms to the waist, zip the fabric to the chin, and voila! Your baby is quickly and easily swaddled. The zippered style is extra secure, with no velcro flaps to bust through and a fitted neckline to ensure a little fist can’t squeeze through. The Woombie brand offers a cult favorite swaddle with a safe and secure zipper style.
New additions to the market make use of lightly weighted patches to mimic the touch of mom or dad’s hand on baby’s chest. Some parents swear that a little extra support offers soothing relief to their fussy babies. Interested? Check out the Nested Bean Zen Swaddle.
A hybrid swaddle is a great option for parents looking to transition babies from snug swaddle to free sleeping. A hybrid features a looser-fitting, wearable blanket with velcro wings that can swaddle baby’s arms in, or wrap around the belly to leave the arms free. To transition baby from the swaddle, many parents leave one arm untucked before losing the swaddle altogether. Halo offers several hybrid swaddle/wearable blankets.