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Should I Swaddle My Newborn at Night?

If you're a new parent, you're probably dreaming of the day your newborn will sleep through the night - between those fragmented hours of rest. The cries, the fussiness, and those endless feeding sessions all take a toll. 

Expecting parents who haven’t dealt with these challenges yet have only heard of them - and maybe this has you in a state of dread and uncertainty. 

But what if we told you there's an ancient secret that not only has the potential to grant your baby more peaceful nights but can also give you back those precious hours of rest you've been yearning for? Enter the art of swaddling.

Swaddling is a practice steeped in tradition, backed by science, and designed to recreate the snug, secure feeling of the womb. You’ve probably seen swaddled babies in the past or heard about the benefits of swaddling

This begs the question, should I swaddle my newborn at night? And if so, why should I swaddle my baby at night?

In this guide, we’ll weigh the pros and cons of swaddling and show you why, yes, you SHOULD swaddle your baby. The truth is, there is a very short runway where swaddling works. And you should take advantage of it while you can! 

We’ll cover all this and offer tips on how to swaddle a baby at night. But, let’s start with a brief introduction to swaddling.

A Brief Introduction to Swaddling

If you're on the verge of becoming a parent or are already cradling your little bundle of joy, the term “swaddling” has probably popped up more than once in your baby research. It's a practice as ancient as civilization, but why is it still relevant today? 

Perhaps because it's one of the most effective, yet simple, tools you can use to improve both your newborn's sleep and your own quality of life. With a swaddle, you're not just wrapping your baby in a blanket. You're wrapping them in comfort, safety, and love. 

But, you’re probably wondering - should I waddle my newborn at night? Here’s why we feel the answer is a resounding yes…

Why Should You Swaddle Your Baby at Night?

So, why should you swaddle your baby at night? If you're wading through sleepless nights and daytime fatigue, swaddling could be the solution you didn't know you needed. Here's why nighttime swaddling should be a tool in every parent's arsenal.

Creating a Womb-like Environment to Calm a Fussy Baby

Why swaddle baby? Simple - it calms them down immediately! 

The world is a big and sometimes overwhelming place for a newborn. After nine months in a cozy, warm womb, the sudden exposure to space, lights, and sounds can make your baby anxious. 

Swaddling mimics the snugness of the womb, providing a comforting, “held” feeling. This familiar environment can quickly calm a fussy baby, making it easier for them to drift into sleep. 

That means if your baby fighting sleep has caused problems with maintaining a newborn sleep schedule, or your newborn won’t sleep unless held, swaddling could be the answer!

Improved Sleep Quality (For Your Baby and You!)

Research shows that swaddled babies tend to sleep longer and more soundly. This is partly because swaddling restricts the random movements that can jolt a baby awake. 

And it can also make them think they’re still being bundled in their mother’s arms, helping with baby separation anxiety.

Longer, more consistent sleep periods for your baby typically mean the same for you, allowing you both to wake up refreshed and less irritable. Everyone wins!

Reduced Risk of Startle Reflex or Rolling Over

Newborns have a startle reflex, known as the Moro reflex, which can awaken them suddenly. This reflex is a natural reaction to a sensation of falling or a sudden change in body position. 

When swaddled, the risk of triggering this reflex is reduced, helping your baby—and you—enjoy uninterrupted sleep. Plus, proper swaddling can prevent your newborn from rolling onto their tummy, which is crucial for safe sleep.

Temperature Regulation Benefits

Maintaining a newborn's body temperature can be a delicate balancing act. Your baby can lose heat quickly, but overheating is also a significant concern. 

Swaddling helps in temperature regulation by providing an insulating layer that can be adjusted as needed. High-quality swaddle blankets made of breathable materials can keep your baby warm without the risk of overheating. 

We’ll introduce you to the best swaddles later on. But now, let’s look at the other side of the fence - why shouldn’t you swaddle a baby at night?

Why Shouldn’t You Swaddle a Baby at Night?

While some concerns exist about swaddling, it's essential to note that many of these issues can be easily mitigated with proper knowledge and technique. Here are some points that often come up, alongside reassurances that careful swaddling virtually eliminates these concerns:

  • Risk of Overheating: Overheating can be a concern, but this risk is minimized when you use breathable, lightweight swaddle materials and monitor room temperature.
  • Hip Dysplasia: Incorrect swaddling technique can lead to hip issues. However, learning the correct way to swaddle ensures that your baby's hips have room to move and develop properly.
  • Inhibits Mobility: While swaddling does restrict movement, this is often the point: to mimic the womb's close environment. Babies who have not shown any signs of rolling over are not that mobile during their earliest months.
  • Potential Breastfeeding Challenges: Some say swaddling may interfere with breastfeeding, especially if the baby is swaddled too tightly. However, the baby can be unswaddled during feeding times, mitigating this concern entirely. Or, you can learn how to swaddle while breastfeeding in our blog.
  • Safety Risks Like Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): Discover more facts about SIDS in our blog. While swaddling is not a strategy to prevent SIDS, taking appropriate measures when putting a swaddled baby to sleep is necessary and would certainly help.

As you can see, any reason to not swaddle your baby can be overcome. In that sense, there aren’t really any drawbacks to swaddling when done correctly. So, should you swaddle your baby at night?

So, Should I Swaddle My Newborn at Night?

What’s the verdict - should I swaddle my newborn at night? Do the pros outweigh the cons or is it the other way around

To be clear, yes - we think you should swaddle your newborn at night. The advantages of swaddling dramatically outweigh the downside, which can be alleviated with some research into the specific swaddle you choose and how to use it. 

All things considered, the swaddle is one of the most effective infant sleep aids you can have in your arsenal. But you need to know how to swaddle a baby to make the most of this product! So, let’s talk about actually swaddling your newborn at night next.

How to Swaddle Your Newborn at Night

Navigating the early days and sleepless nights with a newborn can be overwhelming. Swaddling, when done correctly, can be an invaluable tool in your parenting toolbox, providing comfort to your baby and some much-needed rest for you. 

Let's break down how to master this age-old practice for night-time comfort and safety as part of your newborn bedtime routine.

Choosing the Right Swaddle Blanket

The first step is selecting the right swaddle blanket for your newborn. The material is paramount. Opt for breathable fabrics like cotton or muslin that wick moisture away. Avoid heavy or heat-retaining materials like fleece. 

Make sure it's size-appropriate, as a too-small swaddle can be constricting, and a too-large one may come undone, both of which can pose safety risks. Look for swaddles with adjustable Velcro or snap closures for easier use.

At Nested Bean, we have an amazing weighted swaddle that mimics your embrace - going above and beyond the average swaddle. It’s also been designed for effortless swaddling, making your life a bit easier as a busy, stressed-out parent.

Explore our other types of swaddles for newborns like our zipper swaddle, bamboo swaddle, or arms up swaddle - which is the best transition swaddle for when it comes time to stop swaddling. More on that later. 

Step-By-Step Swaddling Instructions

Swaddling takes just 5 simple steps:

  1. Preparation: Lay the swaddle blanket flat on a surface in a diamond shape, folding the top corner down about 6 inches. Place your baby face-up on the blanket, with their head above the folded corner.
  2. First Fold: Gently hold your baby's right arm straight and fold the left corner of the blanket over their body, tucking it under the left arm.
  3. Second Fold: Now fold the bottom corner up over your baby's feet.
  4. Final Fold: Hold your baby’s left arm down and fold the right corner over their body, tucking it underneath.
  5. Secure the Swaddle: Make sure the swaddle is snug but not tight, ensuring that your baby can still move their hips and breathe comfortably.

You can learn about other swaddling techniques in our blog if you’d like, but let’s talk about ensuring your child’s comfort for now.

What to Do if Baby Seems Uncomfortable in the Swaddle

Some babies may initially resist the swaddle or seem uncomfortable. In these cases, make slight adjustments such as loosening the blanket a bit or changing the arm position. But what if your newborn baby wants their hands out of the swaddle?

The "hands-up" swaddle allows a self-soothing baby to still suck their fingers. The key is to be attentive to your baby's cues and preferences. 

Learn more about how to swaddle with arms out or swaddle with arms up in our blog. You should also consider what should baby wear under swaddle blankets to ensure they’re not too hot.

Preparing for the Transition to Sleep Sack

Eventually, your little one will outgrow the need for swaddling, typically around the time they start rolling over or showing signs of breaking free from the swaddle. Our guide on what age to stop swaddling will help you navigate this period with greater confidence.

So, what should you do if your baby rolls over in sleep but you still want to use weighted sleepwear? Simple - use our weighted sleep sack instead! These are the next best thing, as your child is still warm, cozy, and bundled up but in a much safer manner for this stage in their developmental journey. 

We have a bamboo sleep sack and winter sleep sack as well. Learn about the sleep sack benefits in our blog, along with tips on when to stop using sleep sack or a comparison between the swaddle vs sleep sack

Wrapping up Our Guide to Why You Should Swaddle a Newborn at Night

The journey through newborn sleep can feel like a winding road with few signposts, but swaddling could be that missing guide you've been searching for.  So, should I swaddle my newborn at night? We think yes! But, why should you swaddle your baby at night exactly? 

From creating a womb-like sanctuary that calms your baby, to ensuring better sleep quality for both of you, the benefits are too substantial to overlook. And while there are considerations to bear in mind, they're all navigable with the right information and tools. 

This is just one of the many resources you’ll find in our blog. Learn more about how to get newborn to sleep at night, how to help a teething baby sleep, how to hold a baby, sleep training baby, signs of sleep regression, the different baby cries meanings, and other important parenting topics.

If you're ready to embrace the transformative power of swaddling, make your next stop Nested Bean, where quality meets comfort for the best swaddling solutions. Trust us - your sleep-deprived self will thank you!

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