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Swaddling a Sleepless Baby - Yes or No?

Updated on October 6, 2015

Have You Tried the Traditional Method of Swaddling to Comfort Your Sleepless or Colicky Baby?

For generations, mothers have wrapped their young babies in swaddling clothes. Why? Because the feeling of being wrapped snugly in cloth gives the infant the same sense of close-held security it had in its mother's womb.

In fact, until onesies were invented and marketed for newborns, swaddling was a common way to wrap a baby in warmth and comfort it to sleep. The technique is still recommended by many hospital neo-natal units for settling a restless or colicky baby who won't stop crying at night.

If you weren't shown the proper method for how to swaddle your infant by the nurses in the hospital after you gave birth, not to worry - it's not hard to learn how to perfect the technique. Just as you learned how to bathe and nurse your new baby, you can learn how to swaddle your little one, too. Watch the instructional videos below, then browse the selection of swaddling blankets of different weights and styles, including some alternatives to the traditional swaddle such as a sleep sack or blanket cocoon. You can do this!

Photo: Charlie Swaddled

How to Swaddle a Baby - Step-by-Step Video Demo of Swaddling Techniques by a Professional Nurse

What's the best way to swaddle a newborn? In this video, a professional nurse shows you how to do it. You may find it helpful to practice your technique first on a stuffed toy or doll, before you bring Baby home from the hospital, to learn the proper technique. Take special notice in this tutorial video of how the nurse makes an extra fold with the swaddling cloth over the infant's left hand to hold it securely within the wrap.

Classic Disney Swaddling Blankets - Lightweight Cotton Marquisette Swaddles

For summertime, it is important to switch to a lightweight cloth for swaddling a baby so the little one won't overheat. Think in terms of a very fine muslin or other natural material with an open weave that will allow for plenty of air movement. In the "shoulder seasons" of spring and fall, moving to a lightweight cloth with a tighter weave will make it easy to monitor the baby's temperature and help him to stay warm (but not too warm) and comforted, in cooler weather or chilly evenings. In winter, especially when you're travelling or live in an older home where there may be drafts, you might change up to a cosy flannel.

Research Says...

Done Right, Swaddling Can Soothe Crying Babies & Help Them Sleep

Research shows that swaddling - a technique that mimics the coziness of the womb - can keep your baby warm and comfortable, as well as help him or her sleep better and longer.

~ Mayo Clinic

Organic Flannel Swaddle Blankets - Cozy Wraps for Spring and Fall Swaddling

Cotton flannel is an ideal fabric choice for when the weather is not particularly hot or cold - for the shoulder seasons of spring and fall, or when you'll be moving between temperature-controlled indoor spaces and the outdoors. You can always add an extra blanket if there's a nip in the air, but flannel is great for the swaddle itself.

Bamboo / Cotton Muslin Swaddling Cloths - Aden & Anais Lightweight Summer Swaddle Blankets

The beautiful Aden & Anais muslin swaddling clothes are top-rated and top quality. They're multi-functional, too! The lightweight fabric makes an excellent sunshade to drape over your baby carriage or stroller, a blanket for tummy time, a lightweight covering when a sudden cool breeze comes up, and a dozen other uses in your daily life.

aden + anais swaddle 2 pack, prince charming
aden + anais swaddle 2 pack, prince charming
Beautifully blue in stripes and stars, these print muslin swaddling wraps look more like a fashionable scarf than a twee bit of baby gear - very hip, if Mom needs to borrow one for a lightweight sunshade of her own!

Newborn Baby Swaddling Lesson - Hospital Nurse Shows New Parents How to Swaddle a Newborn Infant

It can be just a little bit of a challenge, to swaddle a wiggly newborn baby!

Notice how big the swaddling cloth is that the nurse uses in this video. It is a good bit larger than the size of most receiving blankets, which I find are more useful as burp clothes or lightweight blankets in the carseat or carriage. If you plan to swaddle, do get a few good large swaddling cloths - it's easier to swaddle correctly if you have enough material to do it right.

Easy Alternative - Woombie Baby Stretch Swaddle Cocoon

You've probably heard of a sleep sack or baby cocoon, if you haven't already got one as a shower gift. Basically, it's an old-fashioned baby bunting, but without the sleeves. In these, the baby's arms are tucked inside, all cosy and lightly restrained. This kind of bundling is not as restrictive as traditional swaddling, so it doesn't have quite the same soothing effect for most colicky infants, but it can be a reasonable compromise for parents who aren't comfortable with the full wrap and just couldn't be easier to use!

You'll run into a lot of variations on the sleep sack idea, but I have a preference for the Woombie. "All it's got is a zipper and a snap," says one happy parent's Woombie review. They call it not only baby-proof but parent-, grandparent- and babysitter-proof. "You can't screw it up at 2 am."

Even more importantly, this design's four-way stretch fabric and narrow construction seem to hit the sweet spot for the amount of movement it permits the baby - snug enough to be comforting, with stretch enough to allow the movement of legs and hips that a growing infant needs for proper development.

The Original Woombie Baby Cocoon Swaddle (Newborn (5-13 lbs), Raspberry)
The Original Woombie Baby Cocoon Swaddle (Newborn (5-13 lbs), Raspberry)
Two-way zipper makes it easy to change a diaper and still leave the baby's top chest and arms all cosy and swaddled.
Charlie Swaddled
Charlie Swaddled | Source

Do You Swaddle Your Baby? - Which do you prefer, a swaddling blanket or sleep sack?

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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I was non-medical professional staff on a newborn hospital unit. Our nursing staff taught swaddling to moms fortune sense of security it provides. Too bad this was after I had my kids.

    • Rosaquid profile image


      8 years ago

      Yes, we did. They are grown now, but I am so glad we knew about swaddling our infants. It gave them comfort and security.


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