How to Swaddle Your Baby

6 min read

Last Modified 28 June 2023 First Added 30 May 2023

New parents typically learn how to swaddle babies from nurses in the hospital.

This is when a thin blanket is wrapped snuggly around a baby’s body which mimics the feeling of being in the womb and soothes your baby.  

When done correctly, swaddling can be a soothing technique to help infants and aid in sleep duration.  

The Lullaby Trust and the Royal College of Midwives have stated that they are neither against nor in favour of swaddling. Many parents find swaddling to be a useful technique to help keep their baby calm, read on to find out how to swaddle your infant safely.  

What is Swaddling?

Swaddling is the act of wrapping a baby in a breathable fabric which provides a sense of security and promotes sleep.  

It is a diverse practice that varies in technique, materials used, and cultural significance. For example, some cultures use swaddling to promote warmth and prevent injuries, whilst others have used this technique to calm and soothe a fussy baby.  

It is important to follow safe swaddling practices to prevent overheating or hip dysplasia.  

Are There Risks?

Swaddling can be a useful technique to comfort infants, however, there are potential risks to be aware of when swaddling incorrectly. 

Increased chance of SIDS 

Swaddling that covers a baby’s face or head can increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). There is an increased risk of SIDS in certain situations, such as when a baby is placed on their stomach or side to sleep.   

We advise you to always place your baby on their back to sleep on a firm, flat surface and monitor them to ensure they do not roll over while swaddled. Furthermore, be sure to not cover their face or heads with any material to reduce any risks.  

Hip Dysplasia 

Tight swaddling can restrict hip movement and cause hip dysplasia, which is a condition where the hip joint is not properly aligned. Harvard Medical School have stated, 

“For the healthy development of the hips, babies’ legs need to be able to bend up and out at the hips. Swaddling for short periods of time is likely fine, but if your baby is going to spend a significant amount of the day and night swaddled, consider using a swaddling sleep sack that lets the legs move.” 

We advise you not to swaddle your infant too tightly to decrease any chances of risk.  


If swaddling is done improperly or with the wrong materials, this can lead to overheating, which can cause dehydration, fever, or other health problems.  

Avoid your baby getting too hot, and check their temperature regularly, signs of overheating can include sweating, damp hair, flushed cheeks, heat rash or rapid breathing.  

What Are the Benefits of a Baby Swaddle? 

People believe swaddling helps their baby to stay calm and settled. However, medical opinions seem to be divided as to whether swaddling is recommended. If you are considering swaddling your baby, it’s important to follow safety guidelines to protect your little one.  

Improved Sleep Duration  

Swaddling can promote better sleep, reducing the startle reflex (when a baby’s arm or leg jolts involuntarily) and providing a sense of safety and comfort. This can lead to longer and smoother sleep for babies, which in turn, also helps you rest! 

Calms Colicky Babies  

Swaddling has been shown to have a calming effect on colicky babies, who may be more irritable or fussy than other infants. A study published by the Journal of Paediatrics found that swaddling reduced crying time and increased sleep duration in colicky infants.  

Can Improve Development 

A study found that babies who were born early and were swaddled were much calmer and had natural advances in neuromuscular development whilst having improved muscle tone, whilst swaddling reduced pain and discomfort.  

How to Swaddle Your Baby Safely?  

  • Use breathable, thin materials. Materials that we recommend include cotton blankets, and cotton muslin as they are lightweight, soft and can prevent overheating.  
  • Don’t swaddle your baby above the shoulders, their neck and head should always be free from materials.  
  • Wrap your little one firmly but gently, you do not want materials coming loose. However, tight swaddling can lead to hip dysplasia.  
  • Be sure your baby can move their hips and knees freely to kick.  
  • Always place babies on their backs to sleep.  
  • Monitor body temperature regularly, do not over layer your child.  
  • Do not swaddle your baby if they have a fever, or if they are sharing a bed.  

Step by Step: Swaddle Guide 

1. Fold your blanket into a triangle, and place your baby in the centre, face up, with their shoulders just below the fold.  

2. Place your baby’s right arm alongside the body, slightly bent. Hold the same side of the blanket and pull it securely across your baby’s chest.  

3. Tuck the edge of the blanket under your baby’s body, leaving their left arm free. Fold the bottom of the swaddle up and over your baby’s feet, tucking the fabric loosely. Be sure they can move their legs freely and are not restricted.  

4. Mirror step two for the left arm and pull the blanket over and tuck it under the body.  

5. Check the swaddle isn’t too tight and your baby can move their legs. You should be able to fit 2 or 3 fingers between the swaddle and the baby’s chest.  

A baby and boy on a blanket

How Long Should You Swaddle a Baby?  

Swaddling can be introduced from birth. You may use the swaddling technique up until your baby begins to show signs of being able to roll over.

Once your child shows these signs or can already roll over, you need to steer away from swaddling.

This is to give your child the opportunity of learning how to use their arms and legs freely for their developmental milestones.  

Your baby may begin learning to roll over as early as two or three months old.  

Further References and Information

Looking for practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general parent or caregiver enquiries? Call New Parent Support on 03332525051.

Read more about Should You Swaddle Your Baby? By Harvard Health Publishing. 

Read more about Safe Swaddling by The Lullaby Trust (2021) 

Read more about How to Keep Your Sleeping Baby Safe: AAP Policy Explained by the Healthy Children Organisation  

Day L. (2015) The history, benefits and risks of swaddling babies. Journal of Health Visiting 3:4, 202-208.  Available from:    

McDonnell E, & Moon R. (2014). Infant deaths and injuries associated with wearable blankets, swaddle wraps, and swaddling. The Journal of paediatrics, 164(5), 1152–1156. Available from:   

The Royal College of Midwives: 

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