How to Swaddle A Baby

How to Swaddle A Baby: Step by Step Guide

Nicolette Harris |

Congratulations, you’re due for a beautiful new human soon. Or perhaps you’ve already given birth. You’ve already read all the books, talked with your friends who have kids, and tried to gather all the advice you’ll need to prepare for motherhood.

One popular topic that new parents are always Googling is how to swaddle a baby. The fact of the matter is, there is an art to swaddling. And every art form can be mastered with good instruction and practice. 

What is Swaddling?

Swaddling is the ancient practice of wrapping babies in cloth. They help babies feel secure and warm while they sleep. Research shows that swaddling prevents the Moro Reflex or startle reflex, which is an automatic response that babies experience when they are startled. The common reflex is for babies to throw their arms and legs out and then retract them.

Swaddling prevents them from experiencing this reflex which would wake them (and you) up. This means better sleep for both the baby and the parents. However, every baby is different. So it’s best to test out different swaddling techniques and bags to find which ones work best for you and your child.

Different Kinds of Swaddles

There are several kinds of newborn swaddle wraps you can purchase.  If you’re not sure about which swaddle suits you (and your baby), here are 4 different kinds to for you to consider.

Muslin Wrap or Cotton Wrap

The muslin wrap or cotton wrap is a great material for swaddling blankets. Muslin, which is plain weave cotton, is lightweight, loose, and breathable. It regulates the body temperature of your baby and also has a stretchy feature that allows for some wiggle room. The best part is that after each wash, the material gets softer, creating an increasingly cozy experience for your child. The ideal size would be a minimum of 100cm x 100cm.

Velcro Swaddle Wrap

Velcro swaddle wraps make swaddling a little easier. It excludes all the confusion around wrapping and tucking by offering the same effects as regular swaddling wraps with velcro trims to hold the wrap in place.

Arms Out or Up Swaddle

Arms out or up swaddles position allows the baby’s hands to be near their face, with their legs in the frog position. This kind of swaddle is perfect for the first few weeks of a newborn’s life. During this timeframe, newborns are more comfortable holding their hands near their face. Once they are ready to stretch out more, you can transition to a different swaddling technique. 

Swaddle Bag

Swaddle bags are like miniature sleeping bags for your baby. Babies aren’t capable of pulling the sheets over them if they get cold. That’s where swaddle bags come in. They provide an extra layer of warmth for your little one to enjoy a cozy night of sleep.

Steps on How to Swaddle a Baby

Traditional swaddling can provide a smooth and safe sleeping experience for your baby, especially if done in the correct manner. Here are 4 steps outlining how to swaddle a baby:

Muslin Wrap or Cotton Wrap

Step 1: Fold your swaddle in the shape of a triangle. Place your baby in the center of the triangle, aligning their shoulders just below the edge of the swaddle.

Step 2: Position your baby’s right arm beside the body. Take the right side of the swaddle and pull it across your baby’s chest. Tuck the end of the swaddle under the body, leaving the left arm still out.

Step 3: Pull the bottom of the swaddle over your baby’s feet. Tuck the fabric inside the top of the swaddle.

Step 4: Place your baby’s left arm beside the body. Take the left side of the swaddle and pull it across your baby’s chest. Tuck the end of the swaddle under the body.

Velcro Swaddle Wrap

Step 1: Lay your baby on the wrap.

Step 2: Tuck the baby’s legs inside the lower pocket.

Step 3: Place your baby’s left arm beside the body and take the left side of the swaddle and pull it across your baby’s chest. Tuck the end of the swaddle under the body.

Step 4: Now take your baby’s right arm and place it beside the body. Take the right side of the swaddle and pull it across the baby’s chest. Secure the velcro trim by pressing down firmly, but not too tight. It's very important to make sure you don't to it so tight is causes any difficulties with breathing.

Arms Out or Up Swaddle

Step 1 - Put your swaddle on a flat surface. Fold one corner of the swaddle into a triangle shape. 

Step 2 - Place your baby on the swaddle, ensuring the baby’s shoulders are above the fold of the cloth.

Step 3: Take the left side of the swaddle and pull it over your baby’s chest. Tuck the end of the swaddle under the body.

Step 4: Take the right side of the swaddle and pull it over the baby’s chest. 

Swaddle Bag

For the swaddle bag, all you have to do is slide your already swaddled baby into the sleeping bag. The purpose of this swaddling bag is to provide extra warmth for your baby at night.

Benefits and Risks

As a parent, you only want the best for your child. Mastering the art of swaddling can be challenging and you want to ensure that your child’s sleep environment is safe. Be sure to educate yourself on the benefits and risks of swaddling as you search for the best swaddle wraps for your child. You should also follow guidelines from for updated information on safe swaddling practices and tips.

For more interesting reads, check out our articles on pregnancy and parenthood.