What is a swaddle?
So, what is a swaddle? And why swaddle a baby? Swaddle wraps, or swaddle blankets, are designed to help you wrap your little one up to help them sleep better. Swaddle blankets help your baby feel safe and secure and is said to mimic their restricted movement inside the womb.
“Some experts think swaddling helps to recreate that feeling of security that your baby had in your womb, when she had less room to move about. Feeling “held” and snug can help to calm and soothe her, so you may find that swaddling your baby helps her to cry less often, too” (BabyCentre.co.uk).
Why swaddle a baby?
Another main reason for using swaddle blankets is to help prevent your baby from startling themselves. The startle reflex is totally normal for newborns, but the sudden jerking movements can wake them from sleeping, which could result in crying – and you waking!
Swaddling your baby helps to restrict these reflexes, but not so much that they feel suffocated. The key is to not secure the swaddle sleeping bag too tightly. Using swaddle blankets can keep your baby feeling cosy and snug, which will help them get a better night’s sleep overall.
How to swaddle a baby in a blanket
Here’s a quick step-by-step of how to swaddle a baby in a blanket:
1. Lay your swaddle blanket flat in a diamond shape and fold the top corner down towards you. Carefully place your baby on their back with their neck on the blanket fold.
2. Gently hold your baby’s right arm flat against their side. Take the left corner of the swaddle blanket and pull it across their body, and gently roll them to the left so you can tuck the corner under their back.
3. Next, gently hold their left arm against their side and pull the bottom corner of the blanket up over their left shoulder (on your right). Tuck the excess blanket under your baby’s left arm.
4. Take the right corner of the blanket and pull it across your baby’s front, tucking any excess blanket under their back. Remember to make sure your baby can still move their hips up, down and to each side.
You don’t just have to swaddle your baby when you’re putting them down for the night. Try practising your swaddling technique during daytime naps, too. Get your little one used to the swaddle blankets from birth instead of introducing them at a different stage – this will make switching to sleeping bags much easier as baby gets older. So when can you put a baby in a sleeping bag? And are baby sleeping bags safe for newborns? Find out below.
Are baby sleeping bags safe for newborns?
An alternative, or next stage up from swaddle blankets, are baby sleeping bags. But when can you put a baby in a sleeping bag? Whether you decide to start your newborn in a sleeping bag or transfer them once they’re past the stage of swaddling, there are plenty of newborn sleeping bags and baby sleeping bags available to suit babies of all sizes.
If you’d prefer, you can skip the swaddling stage entirely – it doesn’t work for everyone and there are many benefits of baby sleeping bags. They still have that cosy, wrapped up feeling without the chance of baby wriggling the blanket away. So, if you’re not feeling too confident about swaddling, give a newborn sleeping bag a try.
Ideal for wriggly babies, sleeping bags are designed to withstand reflexes and kicks that would dislodge normal blankets. They keep babies cosy and safe, without the extra restriction provided by swaddle blankets.
Are baby sleeping bags safer than blankets?
If you’re concerned about your baby wriggling down inside of the sleeping bag, don’t worry. Our baby sleeping bags are designed with press stud fastenings around the neck to keep this from happening. Our products are also crafted from British wool, which is proven to help babies regulate their own micro-climate in a constant temperature that helps them sleep better – meaning they’re much safer for your little one.
Because they prevent overheating, wool baby sleeping bags are also proven to help reduce the risk of SIDS. Blankets should also never cover a baby’s head – instead, they should be tucked securely under their arms or parents should consider using a sleeping bag.
So, do you opt for a swaddle or sleeping bag? Both have their advantages, but it comes down to which one helps your baby get the most sleep. They are ideal for recreating that secure environment your baby felt while in the womb, and both can help towards minimising the risk of your little one rolling and startling themselves with their own reflexes.
If you’re considering investing in a sleeping bag for your baby, see our selection of wool baby sleeping bags. For further advice on your baby’s sleeping habits, browse our Baby Sleep Advice Hub. As well as helping you choose between a swaddle or sleeping bag, we also discuss the transition from cot to bed, sleep regression and more. Because we’re here to help you, and baby, get a happier, healthier night’s sleep.