Swaddling a Baby (Pros and Cons and Is It Necessary?)

Swaddling can help make your newborn comfortable. I should know – it was one of the few ways that can make my baby sleep longer at night.

But swaddling a baby has pros and cons. 

And sometimes, if you know some of the cons, you might be a little bit worried about swaddling your little one!

So in this article, we will discuss the benefits and disadvantages of swaddling, as well as some safe swaddling tips and techniques. 

Knowing these can help you make a better decision if you’d go for swaddling or just skip it.

But first, let’s figure out why the heck babies like swaddling.

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Why Do Babies Like Swaddling?

Babies like swaddling because primarily, it mimics the snug feeling of the womb, helping babies feel safe and secure.

It restricts their movements, reducing the startle reflex, and preventing them from waking themselves up with sudden movements. 

Swaddling can also make them feel as if they are being cuddled by their parents or caregivers.

Swaddling a Baby (Pros and Cons)

Here are some disadvantages and benefits of swaddling:

Pros of Swaddling

  • Eases Transition from Womb to World

Swaddling can create a familiar environment that eases the baby’s transition from the womb to the outside world.

  • Helps Babies Sleep Longer

Swaddling can promote longer and more restful sleep for your little one by preventing unnecessary awakenings caused by their startle reflex.

  • Reduces Anxiety

The feeling of being swaddled can soothe a baby’s nerves, reducing anxiety and promoting a sense of calm.

  • Soothes Colic

Swaddling can provide comfort to colicky babies, soothing their discomfort and reducing excessive crying.

  • Maintains a Safe Sleeping Position

Swaddling can help keep babies on their backs, reducing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

  • Prevents Face Scratching

Wrapping your baby snugly can prevent them from accidentally scratching their delicate face.

  • Eliminates Blankets

Swaddling serves as a safer alternative to loose blankets in the crib, reducing the risk of suffocation.

Cons of Swaddling

  • Hip Dysplasia

If your baby’s legs are too tightly wrapped when swaddled and they are unable to move freely, this may increase the risk of hip dysplasia.

  • Overheating

Swaddling, combined with warm sleep environments, can lead to overheating, which is associated with an increased risk of SIDS.

  • Hassle to breastfeed

Swaddling can make it challenging for the baby to feed on demand or signal hunger cues, leading to potential breastfeeding issues.

  • Sleep Dependency

Relying solely on swaddling for sleep may lead to sleep dependency, making it difficult for the baby to fall asleep without being swaddled.

  • Hard to Wake Up

In some cases, swaddling may affect the baby’s ability to wake up and alert their caregivers to their needs.

Overswaddling can make it challenging for caregivers to recognize the baby’s hunger or discomfort signals.

  • Risky When Rolling Over

Once a baby starts to roll over, swaddling can become dangerous, increasing the risk of suffocation.

Safe Swaddling Tips

While swaddling can be beneficial, it’s essential to do it safely. Here are some tips to ensure your baby is swaddled safely:

  • Secure Swaddle

Use a secure swaddling technique to prevent the wrap from unraveling during sleep. Practice first on a doll how to swaddle your baby.

  • Don’t Over-Swaddle

Avoid wrapping the baby too tightly, as this can cause discomfort and restrict their movement excessively. Get to know here what should your baby wear when swaddled, so they don’t get too cold or overheat.

  • Stop at the Roll

Once the baby shows signs of rolling over, it’s time to stop swaddling to avoid any potential suffocation hazards.

  • Know the Limits

Be aware of when your baby has outgrown swaddling and is ready to sleep without it.

  • Don’t Swaddle for Too Long

As the baby grows and develops, they may need more freedom of movement. Gradually transition out of swaddling as appropriate.

  • Ask for Help

If you’re unsure about proper swaddling techniques, don’t hesitate to ask your pediatrician or a healthcare professional for guidance.

When To Swaddle Your Baby

Most babies can be swaddled from birth until they show signs of rolling over, typically around 2 to 4 months of age. 

However, every baby is unique, and some may not even like to be swaddled or may outgrow the need for swaddling earlier. 

So pay attention to your baby’s cues and consult with your pediatrician if you’re unsure.

When to Stop Swaddling Your Baby

As mentioned earlier, you should stop swaddling your baby once they show signs of rolling over or if they begin to break free from the swaddle. This usually happens between 2 to 4 months of age. 

At this stage, swaddling may become a safety hazard as it restricts their movement.

How to Swaddle Your Baby

You can do it two ways. One is getting a soft, breathable blanket or one that’s especially designed for swaddling. Then watch this video guide below on how to swaddle your baby:

Or two, just get a modern, ready-to-use swaddle! 

Trust me, getting a modern swaddle that either comes with a zipper or velcro is god-sent. 

I’ve done the manual way and I hated it. I never learned how to do it properly and my baby kept escaping from her swaddle.

So just save yourself some headache and just get the ready-made swaddles!

Best Swaddles for Newborns

When choosing swaddles, opt for ones made from breathable and soft fabrics to ensure your baby’s comfort. 

Look for swaddles with secure fastenings that won’t come undone easily during sleep. There are many options available – modern swaddles with zippers, velcros, etc.

Check out some highly-rated baby swaddles below:

Alternatives to Swaddling

If your baby hates swaddles or has outgrown them, try out some of these swaddling alternatives instead or other ways to make your baby sleep then: 

  • Sleep Sacks

They are more or less similar to swaddles. Sleep sacks offer a safer alternative to loose blankets, providing warmth without restricting movement.

  • Baby Sleeping Bags

They can also be similar to swaddles or sleep sacks. These wearable blankets allow the baby to move freely while keeping them snug and cozy.

Getting Your Newborn To Sleep Without Swaddling

If you decide to stop swaddling your baby or they’ve outgrown it, transitioning to sleep without swaddling may require some patience. Consider the following tips:

Establish a Bedtime Routine: Create a soothing bedtime routine to signal to your baby that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep.

Use Sleep Associations: Introduce other sleep associations, like soft music or gentle rocking, to help your baby feel secure and relaxed. 

Offer Comfort: Provide comfort and reassurance when your baby fusses or cries during the transition to unswaddled sleep. Check out my list here of the best baby sleep products to help your baby get comfortable and sleep longer at night.

FAQ: Swaddling a Baby Pros and Cons

Why is swaddling not recommended anymore?

Swaddling is still recommended for newborns and young infants but should be stopped once the baby shows signs of rolling over. Swaddling can become dangerous if the baby flips onto their stomach while swaddled, increasing the risk of suffocation.

What are the disadvantages of swaddling?

Some disadvantages of swaddling include potential breastfeeding interference, overheating, and an increased risk of hip dysplasia if the baby’s legs are wrapped too tightly.

Is it better to swaddle or not?

It’s better to swaddle as it can be beneficial for calming infants, but it’s essential to practice safe swaddling techniques and stop once the baby starts rolling over.

Is it OK if I don’t swaddle my newborn?

Yes, it’s okay if you don’t swaddle your newborn. Not all babies enjoy being swaddled, and some may prefer different sleep arrangements.

Should you swaddle a baby at night?

Yes, you should swaddle a baby at night. It can help make them sleep better and feel secure, but remember to follow safe swaddling practices and stop swaddling once the baby shows signs of rolling over.

Is it ok to keep a baby swaddled all day?

No, it is not OK to keep a baby swaddled all day. It’s not recommended to keep your baby swaddled all day. Swaddling is most appropriate during sleep times or when the baby needs comfort. Make sure to give your baby ample opportunities for movement and playtime outside the swaddle.

Swaddling a Baby (Pros and Cons): Wrapping Up

Whatever you choose to do – to swaddle or not to swaddle – just always remember to practice safe sleeping methods for your baby.

And take note also of your baby’s personality, if they’re the type to like swaddling or not. 

Keep a close eye on their developmental milestones, and be prepared to adjust your approach as needed.

I hope this swaddling a baby (pros and cons) article has been helpful.

Swaddling can be a valuable tool in soothing and comforting your baby, providing a sense of security, and promoting better sleep. 

If you like this guide, then make sure to check out How Many Swaddles Do I Need? (Types, Pros, Cons, and More), and Baby Moves Around In Crib While Sleeping.