When Newborn Hates Swaddle (What To Do About It)

Swaddling has long been a popular technique for soothing and comforting newborns. 

However, not all babies like it. When your newborn hates swaddle, it can be frustrating, especially if you know they won’t be able to sleep without it!

So in this article, we will explore why some babies hate being swaddled and what can you do if your newborn is one of those babies.

I’ll also share the best alternative to swaddling your baby, the best swaddles for newborns, and if swaddles are really needed and when to stop swaddling.

Let’s first establish what swaddling means.

I hope you’ll love the products we recommend! Just a quick note: if you click on a product link below and decide to buy it, we may earn a small commission.

What is Swaddling?

Swaddling involves wrapping a baby snugly in a blanket or specialized swaddle to mimic the feeling of being in the womb. 

It primarily reduces the Moro reflex, provides a sense of security, and promotes better sleep.

Do I Need To Swaddle My Newborn?

No, you don’t need to swaddle your newborn. 

Swaddling is not a newborn baby care essential, and it is perfectly okay for a baby not to be swaddled.

Some babies might find it comforting, while some may not respond positively to it. So it is important to observe your baby’s cues and preferences.

Why Does My Baby Fight The Swaddle?

Fighting or breaking free from the swaddle is often a sign of very active sleep.

Active sleep is a normal sleep cycle and babies tend to move, make a noise, and even open their eyes during active sleep.

They will eventually learn how to settle themselves as they get older and fall back to sleep.

Another probable reason why your baby fights their swaddle is, maybe they prefer a slightly tighter swaddle. Or they might like to be swaddled a little bit loosely.

It is essential to find the right balance and adjust the swaddle according to your baby’s needs.

Tips & Tricks For When Newborn Hates Swaddle

Here are some tips on what to do if your baby hates being swaddled, starting with the no. 1 tip:

Find a Suitable Sleeping Routine

Before you check if something is wrong with the swaddle or the way you’re swaddling, try doing the following:

You can check out more on how to make your baby sleep longer at night here.

Sometimes just doing some or all of these things can actually help your baby not hate their swaddle.

Double Check the Tightness or Looseness

Some babies prefer a slightly tighter swaddle while others might prefer it a little loose.

So try to see what your baby likes better and keep in mind not to make it excessively tight, as this can restrict movement and cause discomfort.

Don’t make it too loose either, as it can become a suffocation hazard.

Wait Until They’re Asleep 

Swaddle your baby AFTER they’ve fallen asleep. 

You can just put half of the swaddle on their lower body, then make them go to sleep. 

Then when you know they’re already asleep or when they’re too tired to fight off the swaddle, gently wrap them completely in it. With their arms down or on their chest.

Arms on the Side or Chest

Try swaddling with your baby’s arms positioned by their sides rather than across their chest. 

This technique may help them feel less confined.

If that’s not working, try swaddling while holding their arms by their chest.

One Arm Out

Your baby might be more comfortable having one arm out of the swaddle, instead of both their arms, so give that a try.

Cover Their Feet

Make them wear 2 socks underneath the swaddle for some extra compression, while keeping their room a little bit cooler at night.

Provide a Pacifier

Sucking on pacifiers can help your baby become more comfortable in the swaddle and get them better sleep.

How Do You Know if A Baby Doesn’t Like to Be Swaddled?

These are the signs to look out for if your baby doesn’t want to be swaddled

  • Increased fussiness and resistance when being swaddled
  • Persistent attempts to break free from the swaddle
  • Difficulty settling down or falling asleep while swaddled

Best Alternatives to Swaddling Your Newborn

Consider these alternatives if your baby hates being swaddled:

  • Go for sleep sacks or wearable blankets

Sleep sacks can provide a similar sense of security without the tight wrapping of a traditional swaddle. 

  • Try swaddle suits

Swaddle suits can offer a bit more freedom of movement while still providing a gentle restriction. 

  • Get the SNOO bassinet

This might seem like a crazy idea but hey, if you have the budget and you’re desperate for your baby to sleep with a swaddle or something similar, why not get the SNOO!

It comes with its sleep sack, it can automatically calm your baby to sleep and if it doesn’t work out, you can just sell it for a really good price!

Related Article: Is Snoo Worth It? (What You Really Need To Know)

  • Give up swaddling

If you don’t want the SNOO crazy idea or you’ve already tried and exhausted all possible solutions, then just give up on the swaddling. 

Don’t spend too much of your mental and physical energy worrying about how your baby should be sleeping as all babies are different.

Some babies like being swaddled, while some don’t. 

So just give it up, especially if your baby hates the swaddles.

Pros and Cons of Swaddling Your Baby

Swaddling has both pros and cons to consider. 

The benefits of swaddling include providing a sense of security and comfort, reducing the startle reflex, promoting better sleep, and potentially reducing the risk of SIDS. 

Swaddling can also help calm a fussy or colicky baby. 

On the other hand, if not done correctly, swaddling can increase the risk of overheating or hip dysplasia. 

For some babies, it can take them longer to self-soothe, so it’s important to strike a balance and ensure that swaddling is safe and appropriate for your baby.

Best Swaddles for Newborns 

SwaddleMe by Ingenuity Pod (I’ve personally used these and they are uh-mazing, Omg, I suddenly remember those sleepless nights and the newborn sleep deprivation lol. Anyway, this has worked for my baby and hopefully, will also work for yours.)

Best Alternative Swaddles

When To Stop Swaddling Your Baby

Knowing when to transition out of swaddling is different for every baby, as they all develop at their own pace. 

As a general rule, it’s typically recommended to stop swaddling once your little one starts showing signs of rolling over independently. 

This is important because when babies can roll over, being swaddled could potentially increase the risk of suffocation if they can’t move freely. 

If you also notice that your baby strongly dislikes, nay, HATES being swaddled and struggles or constantly wakes up during sleep, it might be an indicator that swaddling isn’t the best choice for them. 

Remember, each baby is different, and finding what works best for your little one is key.

FAQ: What To Do if Your Baby Hates the Swaddle

Why does my newborn fight the swaddle?

Newborns fight the swaddle due to their natural tendency for active sleep and individual preferences for movement and freedom.

Do some newborns not like being swaddled?

Yes, some newborns don’t like being swaddled as some may not enjoy the sensation of being swaddled. It is important to listen to and take notice of your baby’s needs and explore other sleep techniques.

How do I get my newborn to like being swaddled?

You can get your newborn to like being swaddled by experimenting with different swaddling techniques, such as adjusting the tightness or improving their sleeping routine first. 
Additionally, observe your baby’s cues and comfort level to find what works best for them.

Is it OK for a newborn to sleep unswaddled?

Yes, it is OK for newborns to sleep unswaddled. Just pay attention to your baby’s sleeping needs.

Newborn Hates Swaddle: Takeaway

Don’t stress too much if your newborn hates swaddle. There are plenty of other ways to soothe and comfort your little one during sleep. 

But it’s important to take note of what your baby likes, and explore alternative swaddling options if possible.

Remember, your baby’s comfort and safety are the top priorities. 

If you have any concerns or questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to your pediatrician for expert advice and guidance. They are there to support you and your baby every step of the way!

If you like this article, then check out my guide on Shush Pat Method, Baby Sleeps Face Down In Mattress, and Best Baby Sleep Products To Help Your Baby Sleep.