The most important item in my baby arsenal are those that help babies sleep better. I will spend good money on these things. Now, before we start, you need to be realistic, newborns just are *not* designed to sleep long stretches in those first few weeks (if yours does, from sleepy mamas around the world, we envy you). However, you can encourage your newborn to sleep better by using swaddle blankets correctly. There are just SO many though, and believe me, I've tried almost all of them. In this post, I will break down how to swaddle your baby, what kinds of swaddles are out there, what worked for Mila, and when to transition your baby out of a swaddle.
As soon as your baby is born, the hospital usually wraps him or her up in two super soft hospital blankets. This isn’t just so your bundle of joy looks super cute this is so that your newborn baby sleeps better and more soundly. The moro reflex causes your child to stretch their arms out - and makes newborns feel like they are free falling so it really, really startles newborn babies awake. So, once swaddled nice and tight, hands to their side, baby can calm and feel secure - which in turn results in longer nighttime sleep.
HOW TO SWADDLE A BABY
If you’re like us, you promptly forget how to swaddle your newborn as soon as you get home. No fear - here’s a great tutorial that shows you step by step how to swaddle a newborn baby. Sometimes though, it’s easier to use alternative methods of swaddling other than those super long swaddle blankets.
HOW TO PICK THE BEST SWADDLE STYLE
There are so many types of swaddling devices, and when you’re desperate for newborn sleep, you might just try all of them, like I did.
It is so it’s incredibly hard to pick the best one for your baby since each baby is different - my elder daughter did not like being swaddled, by baby two needed it. There are organic cotton swaddle blankets, bamboo swaddle blankets, velcro swaddle blankets, zipper swaddle blankets, and so much more! It can be soo confusing!
Initially, we started using two Aden & Anais Muslin blankets and this great 3-pack of Aden & Anais cotton swaddle wraps I picked it up. I brought them to the hospital with me in my hospital bag, since I knew I’d be changing her diaper at least 10x a day and my husband was a better expert at swaddling than I did. The Swaddle Wraps were great at keeping her hands down. We used this, plus a muslin swaddle on top, for the first 3 or 4 weeks of life. The downside is they stretch like crazy. The swaddle we start the day with by the end of the day is stretched out by night - which leads to my Mila houdini’ng herself out of it. Womp womp womp! So, I was on the hunt to find the perfect swaddle blanket for my newborn baby. The below is written over the period of weeks 5 - 8 of my newborn baby’s life.
WHICH SWADDLES WORKED BEST FOR US?
Here are the swaddles that we purchased in the quest to eventually getting baby to sleep through the night:
- Halo Sleep Sack. We received this as a gift for Alayna but since she didn’t need it, I returned it. Sleep products are so much better when they’re free… it was hard to spend $22 on this ONE swaddle - but, desperate times call for desperate measures. This is a velcro swaddle similar to the Aden one, but, it has thicker material and I don’t think it’ll stretch much. We tried it last night (5 weeks old) and she did get her hands free, so you have to pull it VERY tight to keep her hands in. So far, I like it, I’ll update on how we like it long-term. What’s also nice about it is that it zips up from the bottom so you can easily change diapers without freeing up the arms. Update: at 7 weeks, we still like the swaddle. We stopped using this swaddle regularly at 7 weeks when we switched to the Love to Dream.
- Swaddle Up by Love to Dream. I purchased this when she was 6 weeks old since I was concerned about the grunting and was sure she was doing it because she wanted her hands UP by her face, so this seemed to be the best way to keep her snug. I tried it out for a nap and she would not stay down for it -- her hands still startled her. I gave up and went back to Aden velcro at 6 weeks old. Once her moro reflex settled a bit (around 7.5 weeks, we moved to the Swaddle Up and she did great with it). This swaddle is $29.99 - so not inexpensive by any measure.
- We also have the basic Aden & Anais Muslin blankets. We were gifted a ton of these with Alayna and they are versatile. We can use use these swaddles as nursing covers, light blankets for the carseat, carseat cover, etc. some people swear by tightly wrapping swaddle blankets over their kids and adding a safety pin.
- Swaddle Me: Many people recommend this little swaddle device -- and it looks very similar to the Aden & Anais. Upon using it, it’s basically the same as the Aden & Anais in that it’s stretchy but it does have more velcro. It comes out to just $10 a swaddle - the least pricey of this group.
- Zippadee Zip: Oh How I LOVE this. My cousin gifted me these and I’m a huge fan. I can give her a million kisses for this gift. My elder daughter napped and slept in this until she was ONE -- so naturally I ordered more for Mila during their Memorial Day sale. This is similar to the Swaddle Up in that your hands can be up by your face for self-soothing, but, it’s also very loose around the body so it’s safe for when they roll over. You are supposed to stop swaddling baby around 10 weeks to 3 months old (this is in case they roll over) so we began to transition Mila to the Zipadee Zip by 11 weeks. We will cover that more in another post!
Here are other swaddles recommended to me by my moms on Instagram - I didn't personally use them, but they swore by them. Here you go:
- Ollie - This swaddle is $65, so I’m not quite ready to spend that much..but it’s basically a zip up swaddle that keeps arms DOWN. The zip starts from the bottom so it’s ideal for MOTN diaper changes.
- Woombie -- This looks super similar to the Swaddle Up and Ollie, except the hands are DOWN. This doesn’t have a velcro.
- Miracle Blanket - This looks really similar to the Swaddle Me and the Halo sleep sack, but it doesn’t have velcro. The only reason I’m not purchasing this is because you have to open it entirely to change diapers -- which isn’t quite ideal in the middle of the night diaper changers.
So, I truly believe in tightly swaddling helps babies sleep so much better and longer since it prevents the moro reflex which can startle the baby awake. Once you learn how to properly swaddle a baby, the possibilities of swaddling are endless!
WHEN DO YOU STOP SWADDLING BABY?
As your baby develops, their moro reflex diminsiehs. Be sure to speak to your doctor about transitioning baby out of the swaddle at a reasonable age - for us, by 12 weeks. We transitioned Mila to the Zipadee Zip at 11 weeks and we saw dramatic improvements in her sleep once she learned how to become accustomed to this new freedom. She began to sleep through the night (nine hours straight!) by nine weeks with the SwaddleUp. We of course also attribute her sleep to Babywise habits and self-soothing - but more on how our baby began to sleep through the night by twelve weeks later.
How is swaddling working for you? Did your kids like it? Is there a swaddle that you SWEAR by that I don’t have listed above?! Or, do you have a friend expecting a baby who needs tips on how to swaddle her baby? Please share this post - what I would have given for these options when battling newborn sleep!
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