How to Swaddle a Baby Like Your Sleep Depends on It!

Written by: Laura Hunter, LPN & Jennifer Walker, RN, BSN



Time to read 4 min

What began as two Atlanta-based pediatric nurses taking after-hours calls for a busy pediatric practice has since grown into an international parenting brand. My dear friend Laura and I founded Moms on Call in 2003, and when we started taking house calls to teach new parents when and when not to worry about their little ones, we had no idea our practical parenting advice would find its way into homes all over the globe.

Since then, we’ve served over 1 million families with our proven, common-sense parenting resources. Our advice has been well received because it works—so consistently, in fact, that even Laura and I were a little surprised at first—and because it comes from the hearts of moms who have been there. Laura and I have eight children between our two families, and we remember fondly the smell of their little heads, the first time they smiled, and what it felt like to finally get that first full night of sleep.

The feeling when you finally soothe your crying baby is indescribable.

As nurses, we realized something that few parents knew: the swaddle technique used in the hospital works wonders for a newborn’s first three to four days, but then the baby’s strength and development render that miracle swaddling technique ineffective.

We’ve spent the last 20 years equipping families with the tools necessary to get much needed rest for the long haul, we’ve taught thousands of parents how to swaddle like a pro with our tried and true method. Watch our Moms on Call video tutorial to learn for yourself!

MOC Basics: Swaddling from Moms On Call on Vimeo.

Now that you’ve watched the video, I know you have more questions.

Here are a few of the most common swaddle questions we’ve heard over the years:

What if my baby does not like to be swaddled?

Having swaddled literally thousands of babies, we have learned that not all techniques are the same and that easier is not always more effective. Our signature swaddling technique recreates your tender embrace so your baby can fully relax and safely drift off to sleep.

What size baby swaddle is right for my baby?

The ideal size for an effective swaddle is a 44-by-44-inch square. It must be large enough to provide a tight and secure fit that lasts until the startle reflex begins to disappear around 3 months of age. Our custom Moms on Call swaddle blanket is exactly what you need!

What is the best fabric for a swaddle blanket?

After 20+ years of swaddling babies, we can confidently say that the material matters. Muslin material is simply too stretchy and slippery to create a tight, secure swaddle that stays in place all night. Don’t worry: those great, lightweight muslin blankets have tons of other uses, and we recommend having several on hand. When we were looking for the ideal fabric for the perfect swaddle, we found that double-napped flannel best maintains the soft security that imitates a parent’s tender embrace and has the longest staying power.

How do I keep my baby from breaking out of the swaddle?

As tiny as they appear, babies will outsmart a loose swaddle technique every time. We blame the startle reflex when their hands fly out to the sides and their eyes get really big. It’s like a tiny human with momentary super strength, and it can undermine a timid swaddle in no time flat. Another thing pediatric nursing taught us is that the best swaddle blanket and technique must provide a few key safety components:

  1. The tightness is best at the level of the elbows to allow for full lung expansion.

  2. The arms are to be secure with the hands slightly behind the hip to ensure ideal breathing posture. Try it now for yourself! Place your hands slightly behind your hips and take a deep breath –– your chest is perfectly positioned to be free to breathe and those hands will remain securely behind the hip, stable and surprisingly comfortable.

  3. The legs can move freely to ensure proper hip development and manage gassiness.

  4. For stability, the blanket is secure and not dependent on the baby’s body weight.

My baby keeps waking at night.

We know that infants seem as if they like to have their hands up by their faces, but that startle reflex can trigger a left hook to the jaw during sleep time, which is not anyone’s favorite way to wake up. So, securing those hands, ideally tucked behind the hip, will make longer stretches of sleep not only possible, but replicable.

What if my baby is too wiggly to swaddle correctly?

Watch the Moms on Call video tutorial , practice on a stuffed animal, and then try the technique on your baby after a nice warm bath. That takes the pressure off and allows you to take your time. Once your baby is secured in their large, soft, safe swaddle, allow that little one a few minutes to get those last wiggles out. Then, watch as they rest and relax.

What is the best temperature for my baby’s room?

Keeping a nursery between 68-72 degrees is the perfect temperature for your baby to sleep in a light, cotton sleeper or short-sleeved bodysuit secured with a soft, large swaddle blanket.

Do I swaddle my baby at nap time?

Yes! As often as your reality allows or for a minimum of two naps a day.

In review, the swaddle technique that serves babies best requires the right tools, including a swaddle with fabric that is soft and breathable, but will stay secure and almost sticks to itself. The swaddle also must be large enough to grow with your baby until the startle reflex decreases around 3 months of age. The proper technique takes practice, so give yourself time to learn how to perfectly swaddle your baby.

We know that parenting can be exhausting and wonderfully overwhelming, so we took the guesswork out of tracking down the perfect swaddle blanket. It’s the ideal size for our swaddle method and is made with oh-so-soft double-napped flannel. Check out the Moms on Call Swaddle Blanket to learn more.

Co-Founders of Moms on Call

Laura Hunter, LPN and Jennifer Walker, RN, BSN

Co-Founders of Moms on Call, Pediatric Nurses and Moms to 8 kids between them, Laura Hunter and Jennifer Walker created Moms on Call to simplify parenting. Through their books, online courses, podcast and content, they help parents everywhere navigate the first four years with confidence and better sleep.

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