Every new parent wants their baby to sleep well at night - especially if you've heard horror stories from friends and family before your baby arrived! Many babies manage to sleep through naps and longer stretches of sleep because of the magic of swaddling, which recreates a womblike environment and helps your little one feel snug and secure.
But for many babies, swaddles are a challenge, and they're determined to break out no matter what! However, just because you're dealing with a Houdini baby doesn't mean that you have to give up on swaddling altogether - just swaddle with your baby's arms up!
In this blog, we'll give you a step-by-step guide (including pictures!) on how to swaddle your baby with their arms up, as well as some tips on transitioning away from swaddling when the time comes.
Should you swaddle a baby with arms up?
Swaddling with arms up is great for babies who often try to fight the swaddle when it's being put on or who break out during the night, and can also help babies transition away from traditional arms in swaddling.
It still feels cozy and snug while baby sleeps thanks to the pressure from the swaddle being wrapped around baby's chest, but it doesn't restrict them in a way that can be dangerous after a certain age is reached.
You might worry that it can't prevent Moro reflex wakeups as effectively, but as this reflex naturally fades away in the first few months of baby's life, this is unlikely to be a problem for a baby who is 3 or 4 months old.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that parents should stop swaddling their baby as soon as they show any signs of trying to roll over. Many babies start working on rolling at around 2 months of age, but rolling at 3 or 4 months old is also common. Remember - every baby is unique, and it's perfectly normal if your baby doesn't reach milestones at the same time as others.
How to swaddle with arms up
As you can see, swaddling your baby with their arms up is quick and straightforward! All you have to do is follow a few simple steps that are very similar to swaddling the old fashioned way with a traditional swaddle blanket:
If you want to know more about how to swaddle your baby and the benefits it can bring, from preventing wakeups from baby's startle reflex to reducing certain health risks, you can check out our blog here!
Practice swaddling your baby
Millions of swaddle blankets are sold to parents all around the world every year, but that doesn't mean that everybody knows the best way to use them. If you're swaddling your baby, you need to know the proper techniques, or you might face problems like making your baby uncomfortable during sleep or even some associated health and safety risks.
Luckily, swaddling is easy once you know how to do it, and much like diaper changing you'll be a natural before you know it, even if you find it a little tricky at the start.
If you're still finding it difficult, we recommend reaching out to a friend or family member who has had a baby and who can show you in person. If not, videos online can be a great resource for seeing exactly how to do it and where abouts in the process you might be going wrong.
Transition to sleep sack
Swaddling is fantastic for younger babies, but once your little one is showing signs of rolling over independently, you'll need to transition away from using a swaddle blanket. Swaddling with arms out is a great, safe way to do this, though you'll need to switch to a sleep sack or wearable blanket eventually.
If you want to know the best way of transitioning from traditional swaddle blankets to a sleep sack, including a step by step guide, check out our blog on the topic!
If you're looking for a swaddle that can still be used even after this transition, why not try our Nested Bean Zen One Classic?
With its detachable, quick-drying mesh sleeves, you can easily convert this sleepwear from a swaddle to a sleep sack, and the gently weighted pad gives your baby a similar sense of comfort to the pressure of a swaddle.
No time to swaddle?
Swaddle blankets can be tricky if you've never used one before - with all the folding there's plenty that can go wrong, and leaving even a little slack can result in your Houdini baby breaking out!
If you want to get the perfect swaddle fit every time, why not try our Zen One Classic? Featuring a two-way zipper for easy diaper changes and detachable mesh sleeves that can be removed for arms up swaddling, this sleepwear can even be used after you've stopped swaddling your baby.
If you have a Houdini baby who always breaks out of traditional swaddles, we think the Zen One can keep them in place - and sleeping through the night!
Other Swaddle Resources
Commonly asked questions about arms up swaddling
Q. Can you swaddle your baby with their arms up?
A. Absolutely! Whether you have a Houdini baby who doesn't like to be wrapped up or you're trying to transition away from swaddling, bundling up your baby in an arms up position is a great option. Don't worry - the swaddle will still help your baby sleep, as it's still applying a tiny amount of pressure on their torso and helping them feel secure.Swaddling with baby's arms up is very similar to swaddling with arms in, so it shouldn't be any more difficult - in fact, you might find that there's less that can go wrong! For easy arms up swaddling, you can try our Zen One Classic, which features detachable mesh sleeves that simply zip off when you want to switch things up!
Q. What are the benefits of swaddling?
A. Swaddling has been practiced for centuries all around the world, and there are many reasons for that! When done correctly, following techniques recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, swaddling has a range of benefits.For example, it can help reduce overstimulation by recreating the comfort of the womb, and can prevent wake ups caused by your baby's startle reflex by preventing their limbs from suddenly stretching out.Additionally, wrapping up your baby in a snug swaddle with their arms in can prevent them from scratching their face in the night, and reduce the chance of them rolling into an unsafe front sleeping position. If you want a dream swaddle that provides a perfect fit every time, try out our new Zen Neo swaddle pod, gently weighted to mimic your soothing touch and featuring a womblike shape that keeps your baby comfortable and cozy.
Q. When should you stop swaddling?
A. You'll need to stop swaddling when your baby shows signs of rolling over - this can happen from around 2 months old, but more commonly occurs at 3 or 4 months.You have to put the swaddle blankets away at this point because if your baby rolls over onto their front while they sleep, they could have trouble rolling back into a safer position.Once you've stopped using a swaddle blanket, you can dress baby in a sleep sack for a similar kind of comfort, just without their arms bundled up.
Q. How do you transition out of swaddling?
A. If your baby is starting to roll over, you'll need to put away the baby swaddles soon. But you don't need to go completely cold turkey - arms up swaddling is a great way to adjust your baby to sleeping swaddle free gradually. Just do this for a few nights, then switch to a sleep sack when your baby seems comfortable.Our Zen One Classic is ideal for this transition period with its detachable mesh sleeves - perfect for arms up swaddling! Not only that, but like all of our Zen Sleepwear, the Zen One features a gently weighted pad that mimics your soothing touch, giving your baby a little extra comfort during a potentially tricky time.