The best swaddles for your baby
There are few things more adorable than a tiny little one all wrapped up like a baby burrito. But it turns out that swaddling is much more than just cute—it’s a tried-and-true way to soothe and calm a baby during the first few months of life, and something every parent should learn more about.
Swaddling isn’t a fad; for centuries, people have been using swaddles to help calm and comfort babies. Swaddling—snugly wrapping a baby in a blanket—helps babies feel safe and secure. It can reduce crying and help babies sleep better, longer and more soundly, according to an American Academy of Pediatrics 2016 Pediatrics journal study, and it’s a great way to recreate the closeness of the womb during that fourth trimester.
When done properly, swaddling is safe for your baby. But there are a few key things to keep in mind, so be sure to educate yourself on best practices.
- Back is best. As with any sleep situation, when you’re putting babies to sleep in a swaddle, always place them on their backs. Per the AAP safe sleep recommendations, put a swaddled baby down to sleep on their back, on a firm sleep space free of toys, loose blankets, bumpers or positioners. Be sure baby doesn’t roll and keep the swaddle snug to avoid the risk of suffocation. And don’t let baby overheat—use a breathable blanket or light swaddle sack, and don’t overdress your little one underneath.
- Hip health. According to the International Hip Dysplasia Institute, swaddling your baby incorrectly may lead to hip dysplasia (medical jargon for a dislocated hip joint.) And although that might sound scary, it’s a pretty easy thing to avoid once you know how to swaddle properly. Always swaddle so your baby’s legs can still bend up and out at the hips; never wrap them too tightly straight down or pressed together. This quick five-minute video is a great resource.
- Know when to stop. Once baby can roll over independently, usually around two or three months, it’s time to ditch the swaddle. The same is true if you’re finding your baby busting out on the regular and waking up with loose blankets; at this point, it’s best to switch up the swaddle for a sleep sack.
Types of swaddles
There are two basic types of swaddles: the foldable swaddle, a lightweight, rectangular blanket, and the 2-in-1 swaddle, a swaddle + sleep sack hybrid. Foldable swaddles take some practice, so some parents prefer the 2-in-1 option as it’s a bit more foolproof. However, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to choosing the perfect swaddle; it’s all about figuring out what’s best for you and what works for baby.
For foldable swaddles, you can’t go wrong with this classic muslin option from Aden + Anais. Lightweight, breathable and made from 100% muslin fabric, these swaddles are well-proportioned enough to create the perfect baby burrito yet versatile enough to go the extra mile as stroller or nursing covers, play mats and tummy time blankets.
Or, for the perfect blend of whimsy + sophistication, the Little Unicorn muslin swaddle trio offers similar comfort, breathability and versatility in a huge range of swoon-worthy prints and patterns.
If trying to fold your own swaddle is causing more stress than solace, a 2-in-1 option offers all the benefits of a foldable but without the learning curve. The Halo SleepSack features Velcro wings that make bundling your baby foolproof—and make it tough for little Houdinis to wriggle their way free. Parents love the two-way zipper that makes diaper changes a breeze and the adjustable in-or-out arm design that makes transitioning out much easier when the time comes.
The 100% cotton knit Ergobaby Original Swaddler features arm pockets in lieu of Velcro, keeping your baby’s body secure in a natural “hands to heart” position. The roomy leg pouch encourages hip health and even pops off so you can use the swaddle in a swing or a bouncer.
And if your baby likes to use their hands to self soothe, the Love to Dream Organic Swaddle UP is an ideal choice. This organic cotton zip-up swaddle provides a snug and secure feel while also allowing babies to sleep in the arms-up position.