Your Guide to Swaddling Your Baby

5 Min Read | By Ellen Conning

Last Modified 12 June 2023   First Added 5 May 2023

This article was written and reviewed in line with our editorial policy.

Welcoming a newborn into your life is a joyful experience, but it can also come with its fair share of challenges, especially when it comes to getting your little one to sleep soundly. One technique that has been used for centuries and proven to be effective is swaddling your baby, making them into the perfect bundle, ready for bed or to carry around.

In this guide, we will take you through the ins and outs of swaddling your baby, from understanding what it is to learning the proper techniques and ensuring your baby’s safety.

What is swaddling?

Swaddling is the practice of snugly wrapping your baby in a blanket to create a cosy and secure feeling, replicating the sensation of being in the womb.

This age-old technique has been passed down through generations and is known to provide comfort and promote better sleep for babies.

What are the benefits?

Swaddling offers a multitude of benefits for both babies and parents. Firstly, it helps soothe newborns by reducing their startle reflex, which can often wake them up.

Swaddling can also create a sense of security, helping babies feel calm and settled, ultimately leading to more restful sleep. Additionally, swaddling can help regulate body temperature and prevent your little ones from scratching themselves.

Are there any risks?

While swaddling is generally safe when done correctly, there are a few risks to be aware of. One concern is the potential restriction of leg movement.

Paediatric doctor and assistant professor Claire McCarthy at Harvard says this about the topic:

“For the healthy development of the hips, babies’ legs need to be able to bend up and out at the hips. Swaddling for short periods of time is likely fine, but if your baby is going to spend a significant amount of the day and night swaddled, consider using a swaddling sleep sack that lets the legs move.”

a baby swaddled in a pink blanket with a pink bow in her hair, next to a soft toy and on a soft fluffy grey bed.

Further safety points and tips

It’s essential to prioritise your baby’s safety when swaddling. Follow these tips to keep them safe and sound:

  • Place your baby on their back to sleep
  • Ensure they have a firm mattress or sleep surface
  • Avoid loose bedding
  • Make sure they’re not overheating
  • Don’t swaddle above the shoulders
  • Use hip-healthy swaddling techniques to keep dysplasia at bay

You can also speak with your local health services about learning good swaddling practices, so feel free to reach out to them.

Can swaddling cause SIDS?

It’s important to note that swaddling itself is not directly associated with SIDS. What is important, however, is to give your baby time to adjust to being swaddled. According to a study on minimising the risks of sudden infant death syndrome:

“The decreased cortical arousals observed in infants unfamiliar with swaddling may correspond to the increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome for inexperienced prone sleepers.”

While there is no direct evidence linking swaddling to SIDS, it’s important to follow safe sleep practices. These precautions, along with proper swaddling techniques, can help reduce the risk of SIDS.

How long should you swaddle your baby for?

The duration of swaddling varies for each baby. Some infants enjoy being swaddled until they are around two to three months old, while others may outgrow it sooner. Keep an eye on your baby’s cues and watch for signs that they are ready to transition out of swaddling. These signs may include attempting to roll over or showing a preference for having their arms free.

Every baby is different, so it’s important to pay attention to their individual needs and preferences.

Step by step guide to swaddling a baby:

Ready to give swaddling a try? Great! Let’s get started:

  1. Choose the right blanket; something lightweight and breathable made of soft material, such as muslin or cotton.
  2. Lay a blanket on a flat surface in a diamond shape, with the top corner folded down.
  3. Place your baby in the centre of the blanket with their head above the folded corner.
  4. Take the left corner of the blanket and wrap it snugly across your baby’s chest, tucking it under their right arm.
  5. Take the bottom corner of the blanket and bring it up over your baby’s feet and tuck it behind their shoulder.
  6. Take the right corner of the blanket and wrap it snugly across your baby’s chest, tucking it under their left arm.
  7. Fold the remaining corner of the blanket over your baby’s body, tucking it underneath to secure the swaddle.

It can take time for a baby to get used to swaddling, so be patient! If they end up wriggling out of their wraps, you can try other ways to get them ready to rest. We’ve talked about how to dress your baby for a peaceful night’s sleep, so check it out for ideas, and most importantly, keep an eye on how they handle it.

Our favourite Youtube tutorials:

Want some visual guides? Here’s a few of our favourites:

The Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust gives an overview for new parents, including other good information.

A great instructional video from RegisteredNurseRN, simple and to the point.

Looking for some more fun and unique ways to swaddle a newborn baby? LoeppkysLife has you covered.


Swaddling: will it get babies onto their backs for sleep? – PubMed –

Minimizing the risks of sudden infant death syndrome: to swaddle or not to swaddle? – PubMed –

Risks and Benefits of Swaddling Healthy Infants: An Integrative Review – PubMed –

Swaddling: a systematic review – PubMed –

The effect of swaddling on infant sleep and arousal: A systematic review and narrative synthesis – 

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