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How to swaddle your baby: Step-by-step instructions

Swaddling can help your newborn sleep longer and cry less—two things parents definitely want. Here's how swaddle your baby safely—and when to stop wrapping your baby in swaddle blankets.

By Today's Parent staff
How to swaddle your baby: Step-by-step instructions

Swaddling Step 4. Photo: Janet Bailey

You probably can’t even count on two hands the amount of swaddling blankets you were gifted before your newborn hit the scene, and it’s time to finally learn how to put them to good use. 

Pediatrician Harvey Karp, author of The Happiest Baby on the Block, says the key to soothing your fussy baby is using the five Ss: swaddling, side or stomach lying, shushing, swinging and sucking. Wrapping your baby in a swaddle blanket mimics the womb and provides that continuous touch and support babies love, which helps them sleep longer and cry less.

A baby lying on a swaddling planet about to be swaddled Step 1 of swaddling your baby. Photo: Janet Bailey

Step 1: Arrange the blanket on a safe surface in a diamond shape, and fold the top corner down. Set your baby on top with her shoulders at the fold.

A baby half swaddled in a muslin blanket Step 2 of of swaddling your baby. Photo: Janet Bailey

Step 2: Pull one side of the blanket diagonally across your baby's chest and tuck it under her body.

A baby being swaddled in a muslin blanket Step 3 of swaddling your baby. Photo: Janet Bailet


Step 3: Pull the bottom of the blanket up and over the feet and toward your baby's shoulder, without making the legs too tight.

A baby swaddled in a blanket Step 4 of swaddling your baby. Photo: Janet Bailey

Step 4: Fold the last corner snugly across your baby's chest and tuck it beneath her.

How to safely swaddle

You may have heard about studies saying swaddling increases your baby’s risk of SIDS, but often these parents haven’t swaddled properly (make sure to follow the steps above) or didn’t follow safe sleep practices. Your baby should always be placed on her back to sleep and there should never be any other blankets, stuffed animals or soft toys in the crib. You also shouldn’t have bumpers on the crib rails.  

Be careful not to tightly wrap your baby's legs so they are straight—having the hips and knees extended like this can lead to hip dysplasia. Give your baby a little bit of wiggle room in the lower body to bend their legs.

When do I stop swaddling my baby?


As soon as your baby starts to try to roll over, the American Association of Pediatrics advises you stop swaddling. This usually happens around the three- or four-month mark. Swaddling becomes unsafe once your baby can roll over because when they turn over to their stomach they can’t get their arms out of the swaddle to reposition themselves. You should never swaddle a baby that’s six months or older. Many parents worry about stopping swaddling because it helps their baby sleep well at night, but now is the time to try a soothing bedtime routine.

Read more:
6 ways to get your baby to sleep through the night Is your baby a light sleeper? 6 tips to help her sleep more soundly

This article was originally published on Oct 22, 2015

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