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Swaddling Your Newborn

Aug 06, 2021

Swaddling a newborn can be an excellent tool, it mimics the feeling of confinement that they experienced in the womb. I used a swaddle on all four of my children, and recommend the use of one all the time when working with our little ones.

There’s a little more concern around baby overheating if you’re in a warmer climate. I would just encourage you to keep an eye on it. If your baby is sweaty under the swaddle, then perhaps you’re wrapping him too tightly, or it’s too heavy of a blanket. Again, use common sense. 


The swaddle can be a very helpful tool for a newborn in getting them calm. It also helps with the startle reflex where they throw their arms out uncontrollably, which can wake a sleeping newborn. Having their arms down and being wrapped tightly can help. 


However, it can become a prop. If a baby gets used to the idea that they need to be tightly wrapped every time they sleep, then when they kick free, they may wake up and need your help to come back in and re-wrap them. It becomes a love-hate relationship, where your baby thinks he needs a swaddle but he doesn’t like it that much anymore. Babies become so experimental with their movements and they like to kick and roll around, they’re most likely going to kick free of the swaddle no matter how tightly you wrap it. Once the baby is rolling, it really does become a SIDS risk. If their arms are not free to hold them up, they often don’t have enough neck strength to move safely around. 


A good rule of thumb around the swaddle is, by the third month, start working your way out of it. By that I mean, leave an arm out at nap time. After a week or so, go for no arms at nap times. Try for no swaddle at a particular time. Bedtime is a great place to start experimenting with no swaddle because it tends to be the easiest time of the day to get a child to fall asleep. 


One person who had an eight-month-old, sewed together four blankets so that they had a big enough blanket to swaddle their eight-month-old baby. You can see how that can become problematic. If you’re in that situation and you’re wondering, how do I get out of this now? The only thing you can do is to lose a swaddle cold turkey. There will be no successful way to wean out of the swaddle because now it has become such a prop and a habit, that anything less than being tightly wrapped up in their normal swaddle is going to be a cause of concern for the baby. You’re going to have to go through it one way or the other. So let’s get it done and go cold turkey with a swaddle. 

Much Love,

Vanessa xo