How to Swaddle a Baby

Choosing a Blanket and Define Swaddle

Baby clothes folded
Photo © Ruth Jenkinson/Getty Images

Swaddling to calm a crying baby is an age old technique. It is said to calm the newborn and help cure or prevent crying and colic. You can use this technique to cover the entire baby or just the arms. You can do it with the blanket tight or loose. The first step is your choice of blanket. (Please note that for healthy hips, the baby should never have his or her legs swaddled tightly. Please see this video.)

Your blanket should be specific to the weather, meaning not too hot and not too cold. It should be large enough so that you have enough fabric to cover baby easily. It doesn't matter if the blanket is flannel, cotton, thick or thin.

Flatten Blanket

You will want to lay the blanket out completely flat to begin with. You can do this on the floor or on a large flat surface. Never leave your baby unattended on a taller surface because they could roll off. While each of these steps takes a bit to describe, you will quickly get the hang of it and won't need the instructions.

Photo © Robin Elise Weiss

Flip Down a Corner

You will want to flip down a corner to make an area for the baby's head. This corner can be flipped inwards (as pictured) to prevent it from flapping around while you're holding the baby. Or it can be flipped outward and used to semi-cover the back of the baby's head. This is a great way to "hide" the baby from strangers or well meaning relatives.

Photo © Robin Elise Weiss

Lay the Baby Down

Lay the baby down with the back of their head centered on the flipped corner. The top of the blanket should be at the level of the top of baby's shoulders, unless you intend to cover their heads. It should be noted that you should dress the baby in a way that prevents overheating. This might mean just a diaper.

Photo © Robin Elise Weiss

Flip in the First Corner

Pull one corner of the blanket over the baby, it should be the right or left corner and not the bottom edge. Pull the blanket over as far as you would like, considering how tightly you wish the baby to be wrapped in the blanket. This is a loose swaddle in the photos. This also helps protect the baby's hips.

Photo © Robin Elise Weiss

Bottom Flip

Next you will flip the bottom edge of the blanket up towards the top of the baby's head. Pull this part straight up, making the fold near the baby's feet. If the fabric length is so great that you would cover the baby's face, simply fold the fabric down over itself. This fold should go over the top of your first fold.

Photo © Robin Elise Weiss

Final Flip

Bring the remaining corner across the baby's chest, towards the opposite side. The fabric may wrap around the baby, depending on its length. You can do this loosely or tightly depending on the degree of swaddle that you'd like. The above picture is a loose swaddle.

You should also decide if you want the baby's hands out or not. The baby uses their hands for many things, including self-soothing. So you may want to decide what your baby's preference is for hands.

It is important to remember that swaddling your baby is one tool to help calm your baby down. You should not have your baby swaddled all the time, this is problematic.

Photo © Robin Elise Weiss

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