The Art of Swaddling


Swaddling is simply wrapping up babies tightly in a sheet or blanket in a way to make our babies feel safe and secure, just like it was in mamas belly all cosy and warm. Swaddling is completely safe for your baby when performed properly. Doctors, including Karp, who wrote the national best-seller The Happiest Baby on the Block, strongly recommend the practice as a way to soothe babies.


“Swaddling creates the snug, familiar, soothing feeling a baby experienced in the womb before being born,” says Melissa Gersin, RN, a Boston-based maternity nurse and inventor of the Tranquilo Mat. It makes baby feel safe, “because in the last few months before birth, baby didn’t have much space in the womb and could only make small movements, as he tries to reposition his hands and feet,” she explains.

Babies can be swaddled anytime they are fussy or seemingly crying for no reason (no dirty diaper, and you know he’s not hungry because you just fed him). “Being swaddled is like receiving a big hug,” Gersin says, and that snug, swaddled feeling can help keep a baby calm, especially when combined with other baby-soothing techniques, such as swaying and making a loud ‘Shh’ sound. When done correctly, she adds, swaddling can also help a baby fall asleep and stay asleep longer.


Step 1: Lay a square blanket down on a flat surface so it looks like a diamond. Fold the top corner down toward the center of the diamond; the top now forms a straight line.

Step 2: Place baby faceup on the blanket so her neck is along the top edge. (Don’t let the blanket touch the baby’s cheek. She may think it’s a breast, which would set off a rooting reflex and make her cry in confusion at not being fed.)

Step 3: Gently hold baby’s left arm down along his side. (If baby’s arms are bent, he can wriggle out of the swaddle.) Take the blanket about 4 inches from his left shoulder and pull it down and across his body tightly, tucking it snugly underneath him on the opposite side.

Step 4: Now take the bottom corner and lift it up over baby’s legs and right arm, tucking that corner behind her right shoulder. Here, we’re keeping it loose so baby’s legs and feet can move around.

Step 5: Finally, take the remaining corner, pull it tightly across baby’s body (again making sure the arm is straight), and tuck it snugly underneath her on the opposite side. Double-check to make sure the swaddle is nice and tight and won’t unravel. If the tuck-in loosens easily, secure it with duct tape.


As babies grow older and feel safer in their new environments, their need for a swaddle will slowly disappear. That’s when you’ll start wondering how to stop swaddling. Gersin explains that you can check whether baby is ready to move on at around 2 to 3 months old. Do this by starting to swaddle baby with one arm up and out of the swaddle. “If she gets fussy and doesn’t sleep as well, then your baby still needs a swaddle,” she explains. But if baby takes to the one-arm swaddle for a week, she’s ready for Operation Swaddle Transition.

Good luck Okidokky Mamas, Happy Swadling.

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