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Top 9 do’s and dont’s of swaddling

You may have been shown how to swaddle your baby at the hospital nursery before you left - but between misinformation and advice ranging in quality, it can be hard to know whether it's right for your baby.

Just know that swaddling has many benefits and it can be an effective way to calm your baby and help them sleep - as long as it’s done right with the proper swaddling techniques!

To get the most out of your swaddle, and to make sure you’re keeping your swaddled baby safe, learn how to swaddle correctly. These do’s and don’ts will help get you started.


#1: Do get a snug, tight fit around baby's chest and arms

Many parents hear about swaddling and think: can you swaddle a baby too tightly? But it’s really the snugness of a swaddle that makes it most effective!

You want to make sure your baby can’t wriggle out of a loose swaddle or loosen the fabric by ensuring that arms are wrapped tightly to baby's chest - the Zen Swaddle® uses Velcro to make getting a tight swaddle fit easy.

#2: Don't let any fabric cover your baby’s mouth or baby's face

A loose swaddling, loose blankets or loose bedding creates an unsafe sleep environment and can increase the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

#3: Do introduce swaddling as early as possible

Start right from birth, as safe and tight swaddling helps with the womb to world transition, helping keep your newborn baby warm and cozy.

#4: Do listen to your baby

They will let you know if they’re uncomfortable - whether that means they’re getting too hot or want one or both arms free. You should keep an eye out for signs of overheating such as a heat rash on baby's body, flushed cheeks, damp hair, or rapid breathing.

The key to a good swaddle is keeping it snug. Some studies call this a type of “motor restraint,” which is just a technical way of saying that it restricts a baby’s movements so they don’t set off their moro or “startle” reflex.
This reflex is present at birth, lasts until between 12 weeks and 6 months of age, and causes baby to startle with loud noises or large movements. As you can imagine, startling may jolt a baby enough to wake from slumber.

If your baby is too hot, you may need a lighter blanket or to stop swaddling temporarily. Try using a swaddle blanket made from a breathable material (like the Zen Swaddle’s cotton or bamboo) to prevent overheating and get a swaddle that can be used with arms in or arms out.

Do listen to your baby while swaddling

#5: Don't wrap your baby’s legs

While you want their arms to be nice and close to their body, your baby’s legs and baby's hips should have full range of motion to prevent any hip joint problems from developing.

Hip healthy swaddling is vital for keeping hip joint issues at bay, and you can check out the International Hip Dysplasia Institute for more information.

#6: Do add swaddling as part of your bedtime routine

When done consistently, safe swaddling becomes a cue that it’s time for your baby to sleep. It will help relax them and get them ready for bed!

#7: Don't place your baby on their stomach while being swaddled

And DO follow the American Academy of Pediatrics' safe sleep guidelines to lower the SIDS risk (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) – which means you should always put your baby face up to sleep, whether you’re swaddling with their arms in or out.

#8: Don't swaddle your baby once they start showing signs of rolling over

Once your baby starts learning to roll, their arms need to be free, and you'll need to stop swaddling.

The Zen Swaddle makes is easy to transition out of swaddling since you can use it with one arm out, then two arms out, before switching to a sleep sack like the Zen Sack.

#9: Don't swaddle a fussy baby when new to swaddling

A baby that's fussy will only fight being swaddled. Calm your little baby by shushing or nursing and only when calm attempt to swaddle.

Once baby is used to sleeping in wearable blankets, it will become a trigger to calm and you can swaddle him even when mildly fussy.

Swaddling infographics

When these tips are followed, you'll usually find that swaddled babies are sleepy babies - and that you can look forward to more sleep too!

Keep our easy 4-step transition plan handy for when the time comes. You can learn more about the benefits of swaddling here.

Other Swaddling Resources

Healthychildren.Org: Swaddling: Is it Safe?

Commonly asked questions about swaddling


Athena S.

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