Swaddling your baby

Swaddling your babyHave you heard about how swaddling can help babies but you’re not really sure how to get started? You’ve come to the right place! Swaddling may help some young babies to settle and sleep for longer but it needs to be done safely. It has some proven benefits and can be useful for unsettled babies and those who wake themselves due to the startle reflex. About a fifth of babies in the UK are swaddled in the first few weeks of life. Why not check out the Channel Mum Baby Sleep guide for lots more information, help and support on baby sleep.

Baby ClinicChat about sleep with our expert Maggie and other mums in the Baby Clinic.

Safe Swaddling

If you do decide to swaddle your baby here’s how to do it safely. Swaddling can be done for each day and night time sleep as part of a regular routine:
*Use thin cotton materials – a cotton sheet is ideal
*Do not swaddle above the shoulders
*Never put a swaddled baby to sleep on their front, always put them on their back.
*Do not swaddle too tightly to avoid hip dysplacia and allow them to have hands free to suck and self soothe
*Check the baby’s temperature to ensure they do not get too hot

Some proven benefits of swaddling

*It provides comfort and security, limits the startle reflex and helps babies get to sleep and stay asleep
*Longer sleep duration helps babies feel secure and can promote brain development by reducing stress
*Swaddling helps babies to stay on their back, which has been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS
*It prevents babies rolling or pulling bedding over their head
* It can help to settle an overstimulated or distressed baby
*It prevents uncontrollable flailing of baby’s arms & legs
* It can reduce crying, fussiness and distress
* It can help babies sleep more deeply

Risks associated with swaddling

*Reduced ability to wake from deep sleep
*Overheating if a heavy blanket is used or the head is covered
*Suffocation if the swaddle wrap covers the baby’s face
*Inhibited breathing if swaddle wrap is too tight across chest
*Developmental dysplasia of the hip if movement of hip or knees is restricted
*Increased risk of SIDS if placed prone or if swaddling is continued beyond 3 months of age

Watch this video for more information on top tips on getting newborns to sleep.

Health Visitor approved advice

This guide has been checked and approved by our in-house Health Visitor, Maggie Fisher in October 2018.

Other factsheets in this series

Safe sleeping for babies

Your baby’s average sleep needs

Sleep and awake states of your baby

What are your baby’s signs of tiredness?

Your baby’s sleep cycles

The effect food can have on your baby’s sleep

Comforting and soothing your baby to sleep

Sleep aids that might help settle your baby

Bedtime routines

Using the ‘Gradual Retreat’ sleep training method

Using the ‘Controlled Checking’ sleep training method

Using the ‘Kissing Game’ sleep training method

Using the ‘Pick Up, Put Down’ sleep training method

You might be interested in

Baby Development – your baby’s first year

The Channel Mum sleep guide

How to sooth a crying baby

Controlled Crying