How to Swaddle an Infant
Your mother and grandmother may swear by swaddling to help a baby sleep, but swaddling demands special care to ensure that your infant is safe.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has released specific recommendations, on its website HealthyChildren.org, for swaddling, because concerns with possible injury or even death from accidents.
If you opt to swaddle your baby, follow AAP guidelines carefully and stop swaddling at the recommended age.
Things You’ll Need
- Receiving blanket
How to Swaddle an Infant
Place the receiving blanket on a flat surface and turn down one corner to make a straight edge. Lay your baby on the receiving blanket with his shoulders just above the folded edge of the blanket.
Hold one arm straight down against your baby’s body gently and grasp the opposite corner of the blanket. Wrap this corner of the blanket snugly over and around your little one and tuck it between her other arm and her body.
Position your baby’s other arm straight down against his body and wrap the other corner of the blanket around your baby. Continue wrapping the blanket and tuck the corner around the backside of your baby’s body.
Check your baby’s hips. With this wrap, you have left your baby’s lower body out of the snug swaddle to prevent hip injury. Your baby should be able to move and bend his legs easily while his upper body is in the swaddle.
Insert two or three fingers between the swaddled blanket and your baby’s chest to check the tightness of the swaddle. The swaddle is suitably tight if you can insert two to three fingers, advises HealthyChildren.org.
Give your baby a pacifier at sleep time, advises HealthyChildren.org. A pacifier reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Wait until your baby is 3 to 4 weeks old if you are breastfeeding, however, to prevent nipple confusion.
Place your baby in a crib or bassinet, directly on a firm mattress. Do not add any loose blankets or soft items such as pillows, toys or bumpers to the crib area. The mattress and your baby should be the only items in the crib.
Watch your baby’s body temperature after swaddling. If you notice that your baby has flushed cheeks or is sweating, unwrap her to cool down her body temperature. To prevent overheating, use a light blanket and dress your baby in only a diaper and undershirt under the swaddle.
Stop swaddling your baby by the time he reaches 8 weeks of age, advises physician Rachel Y. Moon, chair of the Task Force on SIDS, as reported by AAP News. By 8 weeks of age, some babies have enough physical strength and coordination to roll over, even in a swaddle. A baby who rolls over onto his stomach while swaddled could suffocate.
Tips & Warnings
- Swaddling calms babies because the snug confines of the wrapped blanket simulates the confines of the womb.
- Some states have banned swaddling in child care centers, due to increased risks from unmonitored swaddling. Always monitor your baby closely after swaddling to keep him safe.
- Never place your baby on her stomach to sleep due to risks of suffocation and SIDS. The AAP advises parents to stop swaddling a baby by 8 weeks of age to prevent the infant from rolling from back to stomach independently while swaddled.
- Always leave your baby’s legs unswaddled to prevent injury to his hips from tight swaddling.