You may be wondering why there’s a swaddling article on a breastfeeding site. Curiosity is killing you, right? Well there are three reasons:
First, when you’re nursing her, it keeps your baby’s hands tucked nicely away so she can’t “help” you while you’re trying to get her latched on right.
Second, babies love to be swaddled. Swaddling a newborn correctly makes for a calmer baby – and that just makes everything easier.
And third, just trying to be helpful =)
To Swaddle or not to swaddle….
Some people think it’s cruel to swaddle a baby. In fact, a person once told me that it makes them claustrophobic on behalf of the baby. While it’s sweet to be concerned about the baby’s comfort, I’d like to point out here that a newborn isn’t a grown adult who’s used to stretching their legs and exploring the world.
Oh no, she was far more restricted in the womb!
What new babies don’t seem to care for is being laid out in the wide open world with nothing to hold them. Watching a well-swaddled newborn will make it perfectly clear that they really love being wrapped up snug-as-a-bug. It’s like a safe, warm hug in a big, cold world.
So how do you swaddle a baby?
Have you ever folded a burrito? It’s really not much different. (In fact, I lovingly called my oldest child my little burrito baby. Allow me to wallow in that memory a moment. Sniff. Okay, I’m good now.)
- First grab a cute receiving blanket and lay it out nice and flat in a diamond shape. If it’s a rectangular blanket, fold one of the sides inwards to make a diamond.
- Now, fold the top corner down several inches so it looks like the top of the diamond is cut off.
- Next you’re going to lay your little one face up so her head is just above the top fold of the blanket.
- Now, holding down the first arm to be covered, wrap the blanket snugly around her and tuck it under the opposite side.
- Then you’ll bring the bottom up and fold it in place either under her free shoulder or her free arm. Be sure you leave some wiggle room for her feet and legs. If she can’t move her knees or her hips inside the swaddle, start over.
- Holding the other arm in place, snugly wrap the last side around and underneath baby. Baby’s weight will keep this side in place, or you may tuck it inside the folds. Baby’s face and neck should be uncovered, but nothing else.
The blanket should be snug but not tight. If your swaddle is too tight, your baby may not be able to get a full breath and this could lead to a respiratory infection or even death. If you swaddle too loosely, the blanket could come off and pose a risk of suffocation.
Blankets vs swaddlers
There are also swaddlers you can buy that have velcro straps and require almost no origami to use. So which is better? Neither really, it’s just personal preference.
The blanket will last longer because swaddlers are grown out of crazy fast, especially if your baby is big.
Swaddlers are really convenient. No origami.
Now if you have a big baby, go with a blanket. If you like to have control over how loose or snug the swaddle should be, go with a blanket.
And if you find you’re all thumbs with a blanket and just can’t get a good swaddle, go with the swaddler. If your little houdini can get out all the time, go with a swaddler.
As your baby gets bigger and outgrows whichever method you’ve chosen, you can get a larger blanket to swaddle with, or as I’ve done a few times, leave the blanket bottom open for the feet and snugly swaddle the arms.
Bear in mind your little one is an individual. She may hate to be swaddled (although that preference will usually appear after the newborn phase) or she may still want to be swaddled when she’s several months old. In any case, swaddling almost always makes for a happier baby, and a much easier time breastfeeding.
After all, you only have two hands! It’s almost impossible hold the baby, keep her hands away, and hold your breast at the right angle all at the same time. Get good at swaddling, and it’ll be like growing a couple of extra hands. 🙂
Did you use a blanket, a swaddler, or nothing? Please comment below, I’d love to know!