Why Do You Swaddle A Baby? Why Is It Good to Swaddle a Newborn Baby?

When in the hospital with your baby, chances are that she’ll be swaddled up like a little baby burrito while you marvel at the fact that she is just so perfect!

That burrito look is called swaddling and there are plenty of benefits when it comes to why you should swaddle a baby. To ease the transition to life outside of the womb, swaddling is meant to soothe your newborn infant by mimicking what it felt like inside the womb. The “fourth trimester” is frequently considered the first few months of life as baby is changing, growing and adapting to her new environment. It’s that wrapped, tight swaddle feeling that helps baby feel safe and secure and answers the question why do you swaddle a baby in the first place.  

Keep reading for some more FAQs about why is it good to swaddle a baby:

Why should I swaddle my baby?

Some parents find that swaddling their baby is the only thing that works when it comes to soothing their newborn. That’s because swaddling offers that snug feeling that baby is used to from spending all of that time in the womb. Some parents even find that their baby sleeps better when swaddled, and for longer stretches, too. Swaddling also helps to prevent flailing arms and legs (known as the Moro reflex) that can cause baby to startle, sometimes waking them from a deep sleep.

Why is it important to swaddle a baby? 

Swaddling works best during the fourth trimester as baby transitions to life outside of the womb.  Swaddling helps with sleep, especially for newborns, and if your baby is sleeping better, chances are you will be, too. 

Swaddling also helps to calm a colicky baby and can help a baby learn to self-soothe as it mimics the feeling of being held.

How do you properly swaddle a baby?

Traditional swaddling blankets are made of cotton, muslin, or bamboo – natural, soft fibers that are breathable and help regulate baby’s temperature. Some are large, thin blankets made specifically for swaddling, while other blankets come “swaddle-ready” and can be easier for the fabric challenged. Don’t worry, either kind will likely come with instructions and once you get the hang of it, swaddling can be easy, peasy.

Whatever kind of swaddle blanket you decide on, most come with instructions and/or instructional videos on product websites.  Below is the basic idea of how to swaddle:

  1. Make a diamond shape with your swaddle blanket. Fold down one of the corners about ⅓ of the way down. Place baby on her back in the center with her shoulders below the fold, keeping her head and face clear. 
  2. Cover your baby’s right side from shoulder to toes with that side of the blanket. Wrap it around her, arm in, and tuck it underneath the other side nice and snug.
  3. Pull up the bottom of the blanket and tuck that in under the new fold. It should be snug but also allow room so her legs and feet can kick. 
  4. Take the left side and do the same. Pull it over baby’s shoulder and arm and wrap her up until she looks like a yummy little burrito. Remember, the point is to mimic the feeling in the womb.

Why do people swaddle their babies at night?

Swaddling helps a baby sleep better and according to the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) swaddling eliminates the need for any extra bedding in baby’s sleep space which is the safest way for baby to sleep. Swaddling also helps regulate your baby’s body temperature.

At around 2-4 months, when baby starts to roll over on her own –– it’s a good time to transition to a sleep sack. Like swaddling, a sleep sack helps to regulate body temperature and eliminates the need for any extra blankets in the crib.

How long do you swaddle a baby after birth?

Once your little one is able to roll over on their own, they typically no longer like the swaddle as it may restrict their movement. While every baby is different and starts to roll over at different times, this milestone is usually reached between 2-4 months old.  By then it’s a great idea to move to a wearable blanket, also known as a sleep sack, to ensure that your baby is still safe in her sleep space.

Is it OK to not swaddle a newborn?

If you’re asking yourself why do you need to swaddle a baby, the truth is that every family is different and what works for one baby may not work for another. If it seems too complicated, too tricky and/or your baby just isn’t taking to it, it’s okay to decide not to swaddle your newborn. There are other options out there that can help soothe your infant and get them the sleep and comfort you all deserve.

Can you swaddle a baby too much?

When you consider that your baby was swaddled – in a way! – for 24 hours a day for all of that time in utero, it seems like nothing to have her swaddled between 12 – 20 hours a day as a newborn baby. That said, all babies need time outside of the swaddle to stretch, move and take in the world around them with all of their senses available. So make sure that you give your newborn plenty of time every day outside of the swaddle… and always talk to your pediatrician about how, when and why swaddle a newborn whenever you have questions.

Who makes the best swaddles for babies?

When it comes to ease of use, the Dream Weighted Swaddle Sack makes swaddling a breeze. It can be worn three ways, both arms in, one arm in, or both arms out, to effortlessly adapt to your baby's changing sleep needs and provide them with the security and comfort they deserve. The gentle, evenly distributed weight goes from your baby's shoulders to toes and feels like a hug. This naturally reduces stress and increases relaxation which helps your baby feel calm, fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. The best part is, this product can be used as either a swaddle blanket, or a sleep sack, making it both economical and practical… Sounds pretty dreamy.

Dream Weighted Sleep Swaddle, 0-6 months