Dos and don’ts of swaddling: A guide for new parents

Swaddling is a way of imitating the warmth of the womb. This unique method of soothing a newborn is taught to parents

By Dr Suresh Gowda

Swaddling is a way of wrapping a baby in a blanket to make him or her feel safe and cosy. It also prevents the startle reflex from waking the baby up. This method has been used by parents for thousands of years. Swaddling is a perfect way to calm down fussy babies. Many parents swaddle their babies to help them sleep for longer periods of time. It can be used to calm a baby who is crying for no apparent cause, as long as they are fed and have a clean diaper. Remember that newborn babies are experiencing a huge transition, learning to adapt to an environment that is radically different from that of their mothers’ wombs. Swaddling your baby will make them feel protected and happy, just as they did in their first home.

Swaddling is a way of imitating the warmth of the womb. This unique method of soothing a newborn is taught to parents, but is it safe? Is there a right and wrong way to swaddle a baby if that’s the case?

A step-by-step demonstration of how to properly swaddle an infant.

  • Spread the blanket flat with one corner folded down to swaddle the baby.

  • Place the baby on the blanket face-up, her head just above the folded corner.

  • Straighten her left arm and wrap the blanket’s left corner around her neck, tucking it between her right arm and the right side of her body.

  • Fold or twist the blanket’s bottom loosely and tuck it under one of the baby’s arms.

  • Check to see if her hips can move and if the blanket is too close. According to the specialist, you should be able to fit two or three fingers between the baby’s chest and the swaddle.


Stick to the “Safe to Sleep” recommendations. To help reduce the chance of SIDS, all babies should be put on their backs while sleeping.

The importance of burping your child cannot be overstated. Although it’s fine if your baby doesn’t burp after every meal, it’s a good idea to consider burping your child because it will help prevent bowel gas later.

It’s important to keep an eye on babies to make sure they don’t fall over. It is recommended that you swaddle your baby until he or she is 2-3 months old to prevent them from rolling over.

Keep an eye on your baby’s arousal level. Babies that are swaddled sleep for longer periods of time, however decreased arousal may indicate a problem.

Before handling your infant, wash your hands. Since your baby’s immune system is still developing, it may be very weak. They are vulnerable to all forms of infections due to their evolving immune systems. Make sure you scrub your hands thoroughly to keep your baby safe and free of infections.

Feed, break, and swaddle up for a nap in this order. When their stomachs are full, all babies are sleeping beauties. One of the most common ways to help babies sleep is to nurse them to sleep. Allowing your baby to fall asleep on his or her own would make life simpler for you. Often leave a small gap between breastfeeding and nap time for your infant.


Don’t swaddle your baby too tightly because it could obstruct his physical growth. Make sure he has enough space at the hips to move his legs up and out. He’ll be more likely to experience hip issues if you swaddle him too tightly, with his legs squeezed together and straight down (hip dysplasia).

Make sure your baby’s neck and face aren’t covered by the towel, and that he doesn’t overheat. Swaddle your baby with a thin sheet or muslin. Make sure he’s relaxed by checking his temperature on a regular basis. The goal is to make him feel safe rather than keep him warm by swaddling him.

Swaddling should not be introduced until the baby is two or three months old, when the risk of SIDS is greatest. It’s best to swaddle from birth and for daytime and nighttime sleep.

If your child is being cared for by someone else, make sure they understand how to properly swaddle him. Show them how you do it and make sure they understand that your baby should be placed on his back to sleep.

It’s up to you how long your baby remains in his swaddle each time, as long as his hips and legs are free to move and he appears relaxed and content. During breastfeeding, you may want to remove his swaddling to give you and your baby some special skin-to-skin time.

Pay attention to your baby’s signals on when it’s time to rest. If your baby begins to kick off his swaddle on a regular basis, it’s a sign he doesn’t like it.

(The writer is Consultant Paediatrician & Neonatologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Bangalore)

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