Your baby just spent the last 40 weeks curled up all snug and warm preparing for their world debut. You can imagine how overwhelming it might be to make that transition! You'll notice that even after they're born, when they have room to finally stretch out, they continue to stay most at ease tucked in tight against you. This is comforting for them and makes them feel safe. Using a swaddle can offer even more comfort to mimic your baby's time in the womb, especially when it's time to sleep. This is why we're telling you all about our favorite swaddles for your newborn in 2021!
Still not sure if swaddling is right for your little one? We'll start by talking about the benefits and safety of swaddling so you can make an informed decision.
*content updated for 2021
Benefits and Safety of Swaddling
Nurses swaddling babies soon after birth is common practice. And let me tell you, they are pros at it! What was so amazing is how quickly I saw the calm come over my sweet newborn when those nurses wrapped her up so perfectly. I knew immediately that swaddling was going to be a trick I'd need to perfect myself.
But with my first baby I never seemed to be able to get the tight and secure fit with a blanket like they could even with their clear tutorial. I gave it my best try, but I was thankful to have other easier options available so I could continue to swaddle my baby once we were home. I ended up swaddling all of my babies in their early months and I couldn't imagine parenting without it! There are so many advantages to doing so.
Here are the benefits of using a swaddle:
- offers security to a new baby which reduces their anxiety
- most babies fall asleep more easily and sleep better than babies who aren't swaddled
- Reduces wake-ups from the Moro Reflex which we talk about more here
- Eases the transition from womb to the outside world
- Reduces colic and crying - it's one of the 5 S's of Dr. Harvey Karp's method for soothing and calming babies which you can read more about in The "Happiest Baby on the Block."
- Eliminates the need for other unsafe comfort items such as blankets, pillows, or stuffed animals
Most babies will love being swaddled and the obvious calming effect will be obvious. And just because your baby escapes a blanket swaddle doesn't necessarily mean they don't like being swaddled (it's normal for babies to move and you may just not have perfected the technique yet). However, is it possible you may end up with a little one who just seems to dislike it? Of course. But as a new parent wanting some peace and rest, I would strongly recommend you give it a shot!
So let's talk about safety next because we know that matters to you more than anything.
Though the American Academy of Pediatrics hasn't taken a firm stance one way or another on swaddling, it's not mentioned as something that you shouldn't do with your baby. Like I said, it's being performed in hospitals around the world, so it's something that's widely held as a safe practice for babies. The advisements given by the AAP for safe sleep can be done with a swaddle and those include:
- always putting baby to down on their back to sleep
- removing a swaddle before a baby learns to roll over (around 3 months of age but could be sooner)
- keeping the crib free of any loose bedding items
- no bed-sharing
Additionally, you'll want to follow certain techniques to keep your baby comfortable and growing well. This includes keeping your baby's arms down straight at their sides before tightening the swaddle over their chest as well as ensuring that there is enough freedom for babies hips and legs to move around.
Each of the swaddles we've highlighted follows the guidelines for safe sleep practices and will offer many benefits when you use one of them. The biggest benefit we see is more sleep for everyone!
Best Swaddles for Newborns
Here are our top 7 swaddles for newborns for 2021. We know every baby is different, which is why each of these on our list is unique from the others in hopes you can find the perfect match for what helps your sweet babe sleep best.
*Best Overall Swaddle: Dreamland Baby Weighted Swaddle Sack*
Our top overall pick goes to Dreamland Baby's Weighted Swaddle Sack. You are so lucky to have this swaddle available to you while your kids are tiny - I can't tell you how much I wish it was around when my babies were born. So what makes it so great?
We know you've heard of weighted blankets and the benefits they offer both adults and children. Now even brand new babies can have those same benefits with a safe weighted swaddle. Even better is that this is a transitional swaddle - meaning that when your baby starts showing signs of rolling over you'll simply remove the swaddle wing to reveal a weighted wearable blanket to ensure safe sleep. Swaddles themselves are amazing at helping calm and relax babies, and the gentle weighting provided by Dreamland Baby increases the calming effect for our newest additions. You can expect:
- A baby who falls asleep faster and stays asleep longer due to the increased serotonin and melatonin the weighting provides
- Because of the gentle hug-like feeling, your baby will be better able to self-soothe
- Decreased cortisol (or stress) in your little one which helps them relax
You definitely can't go wrong with Weighted Sack Swaddle from Dreamland Baby.
Best Swaddle Blanket: Aden and Anais
Earlier I mentioned how I had a really hard time getting the swaddle technique down like the amazing nurses could do. The thing is, the blankets that the hospital uses are quite a bit thicker than a muslin blanket, and the receiving blankets I tried to swaddle my first with were very similar. If you want to swaddle on your own with a blanket, the best way to go is to get muslin swaddle blankets from Aden and Anais. The prints are absolutely adorable which makes it very hard to choose! Though swaddling with a blanket takes more time it's definitely doable if you get the hang of it. Even if you don't use these blankets for swaddling, they are great for many other uses!
Best Swaddle for "Escape Artists": Sleepea 5-Second Baby Swaddle
If you have a little Houdini baby who seems to get out of any swaddle you put him in (I've been there!) you may want to try the Sleepea Swaddle. What makes this one different is that the swaddle wrap is actually on the inside, and then you'll zip up the outside to complete the secure fit. According to their website, it allows for "escape-proof security!" Other features include the breathable mesh at the shoulders and waist, as well as arm snaps that can be unsnapped for babies who prefer to sleep with their arms out.
Best for Arms Up Sleepers: Love to Dream Swaddle Up
You may find from the get-go that your baby prefers to sleep with their arms up. According to Love to Dream, this is a natural position for a baby because they often like to self-soothe by touching their face and sucking on their hands. If you have a baby who is escaping other swaddles or doesn't seem comfortable in a traditional swaddle position, this would be a great option. And even though you'll note the difference immediately with the arms of the sack sewn upwards, this swaddle is still snug around the chest area like other swaddles (though there is no extra tightening required).
Best Transitional Sleep Sack: Halo SleepSack Swaddle
Though we love the Dreamland Baby because of it's easy transition to a wearable blanket as well as the additional comforting weighted feature, the Halo SleepSack comes in a close second. In fact, the two can easily be used interchangeably because the design is similar in that it's a roomy sack with a swaddle wing that can be worn 3 different ways. Depending on how your baby sleeps best, you can swaddle arms in, arms out or just one arm out. If your baby loves the tightness around their chest, you can even continue this practice once they're rolling over as long you keep their arms out. These even come in a warmer fleece option if you're swaddling your litte one through the warmer months.
Best for Preemies: SwaddleMe Original Preemie
You'll find that many of the other swaddles on our list can't safely be used until a baby is 7-8 pounds in weight. That means that if you have a prematurely born baby, you need to be extra careful to choose a swaddle designed especially for preemies. The SwaddleMe option is perfect for the little babies until they're big enough for some of the other swaddles mentioned on our list (or you can size up in the SwaddleMe, as well). The velcro tabs make is so easy to get a secure and comfortable fit for your baby. There is also a leg pouch that makes diaper checks and changing even without taking the swaddle off of your baby.
Best for Breathing Tracking: Nanit Swaddle
Isn't it amazing what technology allows us to be able to do these days? The swaddle from Nanit works exclusively with the Nanit plus nursery camera which allows you to track your baby's breathing. Unlike other mechanisms that provide similar tracking, this requires no sensors on the body or in your baby's crib. Instead, the design on the swaddle is able to track any subtle movements from your baby and will immediately alert you if necessary. Not only can your baby be swaddled for sound sleep, but you can also have the peace of mind that your baby is sleeping safely through the night.