Some people call the first few weeks of life “the fourth trimester”—your newborn is adjusting to life outside the womb. Swaddling can help your baby from getting overstimulated by his own jerky limbs. If you decide to swaddle, here are some tips from experts to be sure that swaddling is safe and healthy for your baby’s development.
- Swaddling should only be used for sleeping or to calm a fussy baby. It is important that babies get plenty of time on the floor to stretch out of the womb position and move all of their limbs freely.
- If your baby is content without swaddling, it’s not necessary. There’s no reason that babies have to be swaddled.
- When in the swaddle, make sure your baby’s legs can fold open from his hips and legs have room to move. Focus the snug portion of the swaddle on baby’s arms, not his legs and lower body.
- You can also position the swaddle so your baby can access their hands.
- Use lightweight fabrics like the organic cotton muslin.
- Make sure the blanket will not come loose while baby is sleeping, and that the top of the blanket is away from his face.
- The swaddle should be snug, but make sure your baby’s chest can expand when breathing.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics says to stop swaddling as soon as your baby shows signs of trying to roll over, which can happen as early as 2 to 3 months. If you see your baby reach for their feet when on their back, roll from their back to their side, or turn their face toward the floor when on their side, it’s time to stop swaddling.
Learn more about the research
Moon, R. Y., Carlin, R. F., Hand, I., & Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. (2022). Sleep-related infant deaths: updated 2022 recommendations for reducing infant deaths in the sleep environment. Pediatrics, 150(1), e2022057990.
Note: Be sure to put your baby on their back for sleeping. Laying your baby down on a flat surface to sleep (instead of in semi-reclined baby gear) is important for their development.
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