When my daughter was born they let me cuddle her for a moment before taking her to bathe and check. A few groggy minutes later I was handed a tightly-wrapped little bundle and asked myself silently, “Who ordered the huge burrito? And where’s my baby?” Then her little eyes peered merrily up and me and I said, “Oh, there you are…but how the heck do I unwrap you?” Here are our tips on how to swaddle your newborn.
Since ancient times, moms have swaddled their babies. Some cultures still do, lashing their babes to frames or to their bodies whilst they work. I have to confess, when I was a brand-new mom I was frankly baffled about the whole swaddling thing at first. The nurses showed me how to wrap her up tight and snug, but all I wanted to do was unwrap her and count her toes and smell the crease of her neck. Yum. Nothing beats new-baby smell. So much better than new-car smell. Too bad it doesn’t last…
Swaddling supposedly stimulates the comforting confinement of the womb. When a baby becomes too overwhelmed by outside stimuli one of the best ways to get them to calm down again is to swaddle them. It wasn’t until my son was born that I really “got” swaddling. Whereas my little girl had been content to thrash around and actually seemed put-out by being swaddled, my boy was irritated by having his limbs free. He’d get all upset and work himself into a red-faced bawl, until I finally figured out the technique. So here it is, and I hope it helps keep your bundle of joy happy and safe.
- Choose the right blanket. This is common sense. Don’t choose one that’s huge or too tiny. Something the size of the blankies they send your baby home with from the hospital, big enough to fold comfortably and not too bulkily. Square is best. Also, choose one which is weather-appropriate. Don’t give Junior heatstroke by swaddling him in fleece in July, right?
- Lay it out flat, preferable on the floor or on the bed, but never take your hand off the baby. Even newborns can find ways to inchworm off the side. Fold down the top right corner like you’d dog-ear your place in a book. This squared-off bit is where you’ll put Baby’s head. If it’s cold out you can fold it down the other way, to form a protective flap over the top of Baby’s head.
- Put Baby down on her back with the squared-off fold at about her shoulders.
- Grab the top left corner and fold the blanket down over Baby, so the top left corner meets the bottom right corner. She should be snug inside the fold, not too tight but not too loose, or else the baby-burrito will fall apart when she starts wriggling around.
- Take the bottom left corner and fold it up, so that it forms another layer atop Baby. He should be covered to the neck, fold down any excess.
- Take the remaining corner (bottom right) and fold it across the top as well. Baby should now be loosely-wrapped in something resembling a Taco Bell burrito.
- If you want it tighter, draw the last corner across more snugly, and you can tuck that corner into the top fold to anchor everything together. A nice tight swaddle is strong enough to pick the baby up without her sagging, but always make sure you support her head nd neck.
Even if you have swaddled your baby tightly, don’t EVER leave them alone whilst swaddled unless they are in their crib or pram, even for a moment. If they have gotten dexterous enough to start rolling over they can and will find their way to the floor.