Inside: Here are some must know swaddling tips for newborns. Swaddling is a great way to teach babies the difference between day and night and help them sleep better. Who doesn’t want that?
It was like the second worst moment of my motherhood career… The first being when I saw my 2-day old daughter gasping for air. It’s okay… she was okay…
But this was almost more shocking.
I went in, for the 2,356 th time that nap, to check and see how Baby Girl was doing.
Turns out, she’d moved enough that her blanket (which I’d used to swaddle her) had come undone and was covering her face.
I died a thousand deaths.
I didn’t even bother being gentle and grabbed that blanket like she was on fire and there she was breathing just fine.
It was a super breathable blanket I guess.
What's in this post...
That Was the Turning Point
That’s when I ordered a proper swaddle and said forget that blanket mess.
Clearly, I was an inexperienced swaddler.
But this post is not about how to or how not to wrap up your baby, but how to use the swaddle for maximum benefit. There are a lot of swaddling tips for newborns going around, but these are sure fire and work.
Swaddling isn’t just cute, it’s very beneficial to teaching nighttime routines!
There are actually many reasons using a swaddle rocks, and here are but a few.
- Swaddling helps teach babies day/night differences
- Helps babies stay asleep during nighttime changes and feeds
- It helps to promote sounder sleeping and prevents the startle reflex from waking baby
- Brings comfort and closeness
Tried-and-true *hands on* newborn settling strategies that even the most fussy (or wide-awake-sleep-refusing) newborns cannot resist!Learn More
7 Must Know Swaddling Tips For Newborns
Here are the ways that I’ve used the swaddle with all 4 of my children.
We’ve loved every minute and didn’t wean until around the 5 month mark for nearly every child.
1. Swaddle Your Newborn From Day One
They swaddle in the hospital and my advice to you is: don’t stop. If you don’t start swaddling from Day One there is no time in which the baby can start “fighting the swaddle.”
Now, I’m sure there’s one exception here, but you get the drift. Babies who don’t sleep swaddled sleep less, wake more, and don’t sleep as deeply without some type of sleep prop.
Grab this newborn sleep schedule summary you can slap on the fridge! Tweak it, test it, and have calmer more peaceful and (slightly😂) more predictable days with your newborn!
2. Swaddle Your Baby In A Swaddle That Opens From The Bottom
I personally prefer the Woombie and have owned 10+ of these at least.
You can pick which you prefer, but for optimal nighttime diaper changes (without fully waking the baby) a swaddle that allows the babies arms to remain swaddled while they feed and are changed is amazing.
At night, you’ll be signaled the baby wants to feed. From the bottom you’ll change the baby (leaving arms swaddled) then immediately re-swaddle and begin feeding.
After as much milk as you can get in, you’ll just put the baby back down to sleep.
This essentially means they “sleep” through feedings.
Zips from the bottom, stretchy yet snug, and has swaddle weaning arm holes built in.Learn More
3. Do it as a “Sleep” Signal
Sleep associations are powerful things. They are positive associations your baby has with sleep that help them to fall asleep well on their own.
They also help them to calm down and know that it’s time to get sleepy. Or, if they’re already sleepy, to know that sleep is on its way!
Swaddling can clearly signal to your baby that it’s nap time and play time is over. What a beautiful thing!
Swaddle, cuddle, kiss, and continue the wind down routine. Then, when it’s clear your baby is ready for snooze land, put the baby in their sleeping spot to doze away.
4. Un-swaddle Your Newborn During “Awake” Time
Don’t leave them swaddled all the time, but use it as a signal for sleep. Even if your little one is tiny and loves swaddles, allow some room for free movement when they are awake and you’re playing.
This is true particularly as newborn when they are only awake short periods.
Play with their arms, legs, kiss their tummies, etc. Anyway, I don’t have to tell you how to enjoy your baby. By keeping the swaddle for sleepy times… you’re creating associations that’ll help your baby sleep better.
5. Un-swaddle Your Baby During Day Feedings
Newborn babies are notorious “snackers.” They are hungry, they begin to feed, they fall asleep at the breast in 5 minutes.
Now, this isn’t a problem unless it’s a problem for you, but it’s a big problem for me. I have other small children at home. Furthermore, I and am an only child – Type A – Confident + Take Charge mom. That means, for better or worse, I can’t feed my baby 5 minutes every hour for months.
For me, they need to take full feeds.
So, one way I help them stay awake during day feedings and get a little more wake time is by keeping them unswaddled.
I have even been known to take a wet wipe or cool towel to the bottoms of their feet or forehead so they’ll be awake enough to drink.
6. Keep It On for Night Feedings
In contrast, at night, I try to keep them swaddled at all times if possible.
The trick here is to change the diaper pre-feed, the swaddling has signaled “go back to sleep” and then the feed itself helps them get there.
This is the #1 way I have found to train babies to sleep for long periods at night. This is possible, even as newborns!
In fact, as soon as my babies have known the difference between day and night, they sleep all through the night only waking to signal they’re hungry.
Use this simple chart to track feeds and make sure baby is eating (not snacking), your supply is up, and everyone is well.
7. Keep Baby Partially Swaddled for Night Changes
I referenced this above, but by keeping them partially swaddled at nighttime changes – i.e. leaving their arms swaddled – you are preventing your baby from waking fully.
If you have a baby who is more “alert” at night than you’d like, I highly recommend this.
But keeping lights dimmed (or even using the flashlight on your phone which you know you are scrolling when you feed anyway) and keeping the baby tucked close, you’re essentially keeping them half asleep all night.
A quick swaddle weaning tip for your baby
I do not have earth shattering swaddle weaning tips, but I can recommend using the convertible Woombie. It is specifically designed to swaddle wean!
With this swaddle, I have found is to wean your baby by taking one arm out at a time.
You usually know it’s time to wean them when they’re around 4 to 5 months or actively rolling over while sleeping. You don’t want a baby sleeping tummy whose arms are tied down.
If you’d like a copy of these tips sent straight to your inbox then sign up below and I’ll send them over.
The Fact of the Matter on Swaddling tips for Newborns…
Babies go to sleep better and sleep longer when they are calm, settled, and in a good routine.
It doesn’t have to be a huge thing with church bells and four part harmony…
The more you are able to protect your baby’s sleep, create a good wind-down routine, and make it a regular part of your evening, the better your whole family will sleep.
Grab this newborn sleep routine summary you can slap on the fridge!
Tweak it, test it, and have calmer, more peaceful, and more predictable days with your newborn!
To recap, to help your babies sleep better at night you want to:
- Prevent them from getting overtired
- Choose an appropriate bedtime
- Give your baby a calming bath or wipe down
- Before putting on a clean diaper and swaddle, give your baby a rubdown or massage with nice calming lotions
- Have some quiet quality time to help get your baby very drowsy before putting him into the crib.
If you would like to create a simple and easy wind down routine that anyone putting baby down can follow plus some BONUS baby sleep troubleshooting checklists, click here and get instant access.