Is swaddling safe? Tips & tricks for safe swaddling

Is swaddling safe? Tips & tricks for safe swaddling

For some parents, the term “swaddle” might be unfamiliar. It’s often heard as nurses expertly wrap newborns in the hospital. The truth is, safe swaddling can be a game-changer during the newborn phase.

If you're on the fence about swaddling or just want to ensure you're doing it safely, you're in the right place. Read on for super-helpful tips and advice to help you decide.

Do you have to swaddle a newborn?
While swaddling isn't a must-do, it's definitely worth exploring as a way to provide comfort and security for your baby. This timeless practice has a knack for calming even the fussiest of infants, making it a valuable tool in your parenting toolkit. You can learn how to swaddle a baby with our blog “How to Swaddle a Baby.”

Can swaddling improve baby's sleep?
Absolutely! Swaddling creates a cosy cocoon that mimics the snugness of the womb, helping your baby feel safe and relaxed. With swaddling, you can enhance your baby's sleep quality and enjoy longer stretches of uninterrupted rest—for both you and your little one.

Is swaddling safe?
When parents first see a baby wrapped up in a tight blanket, they often wonder, "Is swaddling safe for newborns?" The answer is yes—swaddling can be very safe! But, like with anything involving babies, it's essential to do it right. Incorrect swaddling can pose risks, but by following some simple guidelines, you can keep your baby cosy and secure.

Here are the most important safe swaddling tips to remember:

1. Make it snug (but not too snug): Make sure the swaddle is snug but not too tight. Try the "two-finger test"—you should be able to easily slide two to three fingers between the swaddle and your baby's chest. This way, they'll be comfortable without feeling restricted.

2. Hip health: Leave some room for those tiny legs to move freely. While the top part of the swaddle should be snug, the bottom should be loose enough for your baby’s legs to bend and flare out naturally. This promotes healthy hip development and reduces the risk of hip dysplasia.

3. Temperature regulation: Keep an eye on the temperature to avoid overheating. Use a single breathable layer, like a cotton muslin swaddle, and maintain the room temperature between 16°C and 20°C. Overheating can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

4. Never swaddle above the shoulders: Always keep your baby's face and neck uncovered to ensure they can breathe easily. The swaddle should be secure around their shoulders without covering their face or neck.

By following these tips, you can swaddle your baby safely and securely, giving them comfort and a good night's sleep while keeping them safe.

Additional safe sleep practices:
- Always place your baby on their back to sleep, swaddled or not.
- Use a bassinet or crib with a firm mattress and fitted sheets.
- Keep the sleep area clear of toys for the first 12 months.

Are swaddle blankets safe?
Not all blankets are suitable for swaddling. Use thin, breathable fabrics like organic cotton muslin, which are breathable and help prevent overheating. Bloomsbury Mill's cotton muslin swaddles are an excellent choice.

Is swaddling with arms out safe?
You’ll want to pay attention to the baby arm position when swaddling, however, this is more for your baby’s comfort level than safety. Swaddling is not “one-size-fits-all”, and there are variations of safe swaddling techniques you can try. Follow all other safe sleep guidelines, and if your baby prefers arms out, consider using a light baby sleep bag instead.

Is it safe to swaddle a baby that can roll over?
Once your baby starts to show signs of rolling over, your safe swaddling days are coming to an end.  A baby who can roll over while swaddled faces serious risks because they might end up on their stomach and struggle to breathe. 

How long is swaddling safe?
The length of time you can safely swaddle your baby varies based on their development. The key sign to watch for is your baby's mobility. Once your little one starts showing signs of rolling over, it’s crucial to stop swaddling immediately. For some babies, this can be as early as 2 months old.

In general, most babies are ready to transition out of the swaddle around 4 months old. By this time, their increased mobility makes it unsafe to continue swaddling. When your baby reaches this stage, it’s important to start transitioning them out of the swaddle to keep their sleep safe and sound.