Swaddling a Newborn – What is it, How to Do it, and its Benefits


Swaddling is a method of wrapping your newborn up snuggly in a blanket or swaddle wrap. To keep your baby swaddled cosily, you need to wrap them up in your chosen blanket or swaddle tightly enough that they can’t wriggle out but loosely enough that they can still breathe properly.

The traditional practice of swaddling has been used for centuries across multiple cultures and areas of the world. It’s a highly effective method for calming a newborn and keeping them safe and comfortable at the same time.

In this article, we’re going to provide the ultimate guide to swaddling. We will cover what it is, how to do it properly, and the amazing benefits that swaddling can provide for you and your newborn. By the end of this simple guide, you should feel confident using this simple yet effective method of wrapping your baby up snuggly.

What is Swaddling?

If you’re new to the parenting world, you might never have heard of swaddling, but it’s definitely something you need to know about if you have a newborn. It is an effective technique for soothing and calming an infant and reduce their ability to move around excessively to keep them safe.

Swaddling requires either a traditional blanket or a specifically designed swaddle blanket. You use this soft blanket to wrap your baby up warm, with their legs and arms snuggly inside.

This technique is a well-recognised practice that people have been using since 4000 BC (yes, since that long ago)! Lots of parents choose to swaddle their newborns within the first few weeks of life to make their little ones feel comfortable, enable them to sleep better, and reduce their cries.

How to Swaddle a Newborn

Here is a simple step-by-step guide to swaddling your newborn using a blanket or swaddle wrap:

  1. Choose an appropriate-sized blanket or swaddle wrap. The blanket should be large enough to cover your baby fully, including their upper and lower limbs, without extending over their face.
  2. Fold the blanket or wrap it into a diamond shape and lay it down on a flat surface, with a corner of the diamond pointing downwards.
  3. Gently place your newborn on the blanket or wrap, with the head sitting just above the folded-down top corner. Their shoulders should sit below the fold, so this area of their body is covered when you fold the blanket over.
  4. Take the right-side corner of the diamond-shaped blanket and wrap it over the baby, ensuring that their right arm is securely within the blanket. It should fold over your newborn’s chest so you can comfortably tuck the blanket underneath their torso on the left-hand side of their body.
  5. Fold the bottom corner of the blanket up and over your little one’s left arm and tuck it under their back on the right-hand side of their body.
  6. Lift the remaining corner of the blanket and wrap it over your newborn’s chest, securing it underneath their back on their left-hand side.

Swaddling cautions

The resulting swaddle should be tight enough that your baby is unable to wriggle their way out of the blanket or wrap but loose enough to keep them safe and comfortable. There should be enough room for your baby’s chest to rise and fall as they breathe and enough space at the bottom of the swaddle for them to move their hips and legs with some flexibility.

Note that you should only swaddle your baby when they are a newborn (up to eight weeks old). As soon as they begin to develop the ability to roll over, you should avoid swaddling them, as doing so could limit their growth and development.

Make sure any blanket or swaddle wrap you use meets safety standards, and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using a specific product. If you’re unsure of anything, contact a qualified midwife or health visitor for expert guidance.

What Are the Benefits of Swaddling a Newborn?

Swaddling provides a number of benefits for both you and your newborn. Here are some of the main benefits of using the swaddling technique.

Improved sleep quality

Restricting your newborn’s movement and wrapping them up in a soft, warm blanket emulates the environment inside the womb, which can be comforting for your little one.

Because your baby will feel warm, cosy, and secure inside their swaddle, they will sleep better. They will drift off to sleep more quickly and also stay asleep for longer periods of time during the day and night.

The swaddle reduces their ability to move around and prevents involuntary movements, such as the startle reflex, that can disrupt their sleep and wake them up.

It’s not just your newborn’s sleep that can improve with the use of a swaddle. You will also experience more restful sleep when your baby wakes up fewer times in the night due to discomfort or anxiety.

Lower anxiety and stress

Swaddling can provide comfort and security for newborns at a higher level than a standard blanket. The secure and snug experience inside a swaddle can soothe your newborn and make them feel less stressed and anxious, particularly in their first few weeks of life when everything is new and unfamiliar to them.

Better temperature regulation

Newborn babies are unable to shiver, meaning they can’t heat themselves up when they get too cold. That’s why it’s so important to learn the signs of a too-cold or too-hot baby as a new parent so you can add or remove layers appropriately.

Swaddling assists with keeping your newborn nice and warm. It enables them to maintain a consistent and optimal body temperature during the day or night, regardless of the environmental temperature. In turn, you can keep your baby comfortable, safe, and healthy.

Prevention of scratching

Newborns can scratch themselves with their fingernails, whether by accident or because of anxiety. Swaddling is an effective method of preventing your little ones from scratching themselves whilst they’re moving around or actively sleeping.