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How to swaddle a baby step-by-step guide

How to swaddle: A step-by step guide

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), swaddling is an effective way to help your baby sleep better and reduce wakeups due to startle reflex. Some studies have even shown that swaddling can reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and many parents swear by it.

However, in order to be effective, you need to learn how to swaddle your baby properly with safe swaddling techniques. Your pediatrician may have showed you how to safely swaddle a newborn with a traditional swaddling blanket at a hospital nursery before taking your newborn home.

Luckily, the Zen Swaddle’s design makes it even easier to get the perfect fit—no complicated folding or tucking required!

How to Swaddle a baby?

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How to swaddle a baby step 1: Position the weighted swaddle blanket on your baby's body

Place the blanket as shown, with its wings open wide on a flat surface and place your baby in the center.

Step 1

What to look for:
Place your baby face up about 1-2 inches below the top edge of the wings. If you place your baby too low, it will crease at the top corner causing a slack in the fabric and allowing your baby to wriggle out easily.
Ensure that the weighted parts are placed as shown; the center on the baby’s chest and the side weights flat against the baby’s left side and right side—not under their body or right or left arm and not on the surface on which the baby is laying.
If baby is less than 1 month or 23” in height: Use the leg pouch for a more snug fit.
If baby is over 1 month and 23” in height: Place the legs over the pouch.


How to swaddle a baby step 2: Secure the first swaddle wing across baby's chest

Cover your baby’s right shoulder with the wing as shown. Secure the wing over the baby's left arm and as far under baby’s back and right arm as possible for a secure swaddle.

How to Swaddle - a snug fit

What to look for:
Stretch the wing diagonally downwards to remove any slack. Make sure it covers the shoulder completely up to the neck.


How to swaddle - shoulder fit
Now tuck the blanket underneath the back.
If the wing is not pulled diagonally downwards enough or is not tucked under the back enough, it may create a slack in fabric at the shoulder, allowing enough room for your baby to pull their left or right arm out.

How to swaddle a baby step 3: Secure the second swaddle wing

Cover baby’s left shoulder with the wing as shown and secure it under the back of the opposite side, as far as possible and fasten this wing using the Velcro.

Pull over to velcro

What to look for:

The fabric should be pulled across your baby’s body, forming a straight line under their neck.

A great fit

There should be little or no slack at the shoulders or any fabric covering your baby's face.

When you're done, your little one should be nice and snug inside the swaddle, but baby's feet and legs should still have the ability to move to prevent hip dysplasia. They should look something like this—almost like a baby burrito!

Zen Swaddled Baby

How to adapt the One-Size Zen Swaddle right as your baby grows.

The Zen Swaddle creates a perfect snug fit, unless your baby is under 7 pounds or over 18 pounds. At both extremes, most babies find it easy to wriggle out. As your newborn grows, the Zen Swaddle’s adjustable form can adapt to the size of your baby.

Swaddling and safe sleep

In the past, there has been some controversy over the safety of swaddling techniques, with some calls to stop swaddling babies altogether. However, recent studies have shown that swaddling (as long as it's done correctly) is completely safe and even encouraged by most pediatricians and newborn sleep experts.

Swaddle wraps remove the need for a loose blanket in your baby's crib and help your newborn spend more time sleeping on their back, face up, which can help reduce the risk of SIDS even further. As long as your swaddling technique is correct, swaddling is safe for daytime and nighttime sleep.

The Zen Swaddle is designed to be even more effective and safe than regular swaddle blankets. With breathable fabric options and a parent-friendly design that makes it easier to get a safe, snug fit every time, the gently weighted Zen Swaddle blankets keep your newborn comfy, cozy, and safe while snoozing.

The new Zen One™ swaddle is designed to grow with your baby through all the stages of swaddling. Like the Zen Swaddle wearable blankets, it's gently weighted on the chest and sides, but instead of using wings to keep baby snug, there’s a secure inner arm band and zipper that can be used for arms down, free, in, or out. The removable mesh sleeves give the swaddle extra breath-ability and make swaddling safe with one or both arms out, like many babies prefer.

Regardless of your choice of swaddle, the Zen Sack™ is a great transition aid. The gently weighted center provides extra comfort for your baby to get used to sleeping un-swaddled.


How to swaddle a baby: a few swaddling do's & don'ts

Do get a snug, tight fit. You want your baby’s arms to be held closely to their body, and the swaddle blanket should be tight enough that your little one can’t wriggle their arms out, loosen the fabric, or completely break free. The Zen Swaddle's super strong Velcro makes getting a tight fit easy.


Don’t let any of the swaddle blanket fabric cover your baby’s head, mouth or face. A loose swaddle or loose bedding creates an unsafe sleep environment and can contribute to SIDS.


Do listen to your baby. Your baby will tell you when they are uncomfortable in some way, whether that means they’re getting to hot or wants their arms free. Check their temperature frequently, use breathable materials, and watch out for rapid breathing, heat rash, flushed cheeks, or sweaty, damp hair. Some babies also prefer to have their arms out of the blanket – that doesn’t mean you need to stop swaddling all together. It’s perfectly fine to swaddle with one or both arms out.

Don’t constrict your baby’s legs. Although you want their arms to be held close to their body, their legs should have enough room to bend to lower the risk of developing hip problems.
Do incorporate swaddling as part of your sleep routine. With consistent use as part of this routine, swaddling will become one of your baby’s cues that it’s time to sleep. Plus, swaddling will help your baby settle after being overstimulated and calm them before putting them down to sleep.
Don’t swaddle your baby once they start showing signs of rolling over. Once older babies start rolling over, their arms need to be able to move, and it's time to stop swaddling baby. Luckily, at this point you can switch to the Zen Sack, which lets their arms be free. Plus, for tummy sleepers, this sleep sack can be worn backwards.
There are so benefits to swaddling your baby - plus the added bonus of your baby looking adorable bundled up in our pretty prints!
Once your baby starts rolling over, you may continue to swaddle your baby with arms out or transition to the Zen Sack.


Kids Health: How Can I Comfort My Baby During Shots?
Healthy Children: Swaddling: Is it Safe?
Mayo Clinic: How to swaddle a baby
Book: Caring for your baby and young child birth to age 5 by American Academy of Pediatrics 

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Common questions about how to swaddle

Why is swaddling important?

Swaddling helps your baby feel as snug, safe and secure as possible as they make the transition from womb to world—so they can sleep longer and more peacefully. Specifically, it protects your baby against their natural Moro reflex, which can produce flailing arms and legs and cause wake-ups. Additionally, swaddling may: Help a colicky baby calm down Reduce the risk of SIDS by keeping your baby asleep on their back Help keep baby warm and cozy until their internal thermostat kicks in Remove the need for loose blankets in their crib Knowing how to swaddle your newborn can help you give your little one the very best head start on sleep.

Can someone tell me how to swaddle a baby—without their arms coming out?

When using a wrap, the key to how to swaddle is: Keep the arms snug. Make sure to wrap baby’s arms straight against their sides when they’re wrapped; wrapping with bent arms makes it easy for babies to fight the swaddling blanket and loosen the wrap. For babies who like their hands high, consider a zip-up swaddle, like the Zen One™, which allows your baby to suck their fingers without breaking out of the swaddle

Why does swaddling help my baby sleep?

When babies feel secure, it helps them fall asleep more easily. Swaddling mimics the familiar, snug feel of the womb, to calm infants and help them relax. Nested Bean swaddles are gently weighted to mimic your touch, which helps newborns fall asleep faster, and stay asleep longer.

What are some tips on how to swaddle a newborn safely?

Here’s a checklist you can use to be sure you’ve swaddled correctly: Make sure your swaddle blanket is made of a thin, breathable material, and don’t layer over it. Don’t swaddle your baby above their shoulders: always make sure their neck and face aren't covered by the blanket. Wrap your baby snugly but leave the blanket loose around the hips so their legs can fall into a natural frog-like position (tight swaddling that stops your baby's hips from moving freely may lead to an increased risk of hip dysplasia, as researched by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute). Take blankets, stuffed animals and soft items out of the crib. Always put swaddled babies to sleep on their back - never on their front or side.

How do I put my baby in swaddle sack?

How to swaddle with a sleep sack/wearable blanket? That depends on which product you use. If you use a Zen One swaddle, for example, it couldn’t be simpler. Just put your baby in the Zen One, with arms down and secured by belly band or hands secured in mesh sleeves—then just zip it up! Learn more here.

How do I swaddle with a swaddle wrap?

Wraps with wings, like the Zen Swaddle® make wrapping baby a breeze. Open the blanket, with wings out to the sides. Place your baby on their back, on top of the swaddle, with their shoulders just below the top edge, and pull their arms down to their sides. Put baby’s legs inside the pouch, then pull the weighted piece over the baby, so the edges fall at the baby’s sides. Take the left wing, pull it over the right shoulder, then attach it to the back. Then do the same with the right-wing - done!

Which swaddle position is best?

According to the AAP’s Safe Sleep Recommendations, babies should always be placed on their backs in the blanket, never on their front or side, to reduce the risk of SIDS in newborns. Most health professionals recommend swaddling babies with arms at their sides to reduce wake-ups from the Moro reflex. However, here are some swaddles, like the Zen One™, that are designed to keep babies snug while allowing them to suck their fingers.