Okay, so pre-baby if someone had said the word swaddle to me, I would have had no idea what they were talking about. The easiest way to describe swaddling is if you are wrapping your baby in a swaddle blanket until they look like a mini burrito. That’s not even a lie.
An adorable burrito, but a burrito nonetheless. Or maybe that’s just me, and my food-obsessed mind?! Anyway. The theory behind swaddling is that when your baby is your tummy, they are, warm, snug and they feel safe. All of a sudden they are earthside, and that same level of warmth and comfort has disappeared. This, coupled with babies startle reflex means they find it hard to consolidate sleep at the start. For me, I was sold on anything that would help my baby to sleep for longer, and swaddling did the trick. Okay, so that’s the why.
Now for the when?
Any time your baby is ready for a nap, and especially when you put them down for their bedtime. One of the best things you can do from the start is setting up a “bedtime routine”.This could include a warm bath, a book, a lullaby or all of the above. But the point is you do the same thing, at roughly the same time every night and pretty soon baby picks up that these are their sleep cues. End your bedtime routine with swaddling your little one in one of our gorgeous wraps and here’s to a good nights sleep!
Okay, so now for the how. Don’t worry if it takes a few tries to nail the technique! I remember going to a hospital class, and almost crying (hey hormones) because I couldn’t wrap a baby DOLL. I practiced a few times at home, and by the time my babe was born, it was second nature.
1. Lay the wrap down across the cot or a flat surface, such as your bed. Place your baby slightly off center, with the top of the wrap level with baby’s shoulders.
2. Fold baby’s arm across their chest. Now, bring the shorter side of the wrap across this arm, and tuck it firmly underneath them.
3. Bring the other, larger side of the wrap over, and tuck under your baby.
4. Now you will have a “tail” at the bottom of the wrap. Bring this up on top of the baby, and fold this over the baby.
6. Always sleep baby on their back, with their head and face uncovered.
7. Notice how delicious sleeping baby burritos are!
Here are some swaddling & baby sleep tips:
• Remember, the wrap must be firm, but not super tight. We don’t want your babies movement restricted, as this can lead to abnormal hip development.
• Don’t overdress your baby! Use only a singlet and nappy in warm weather, and a light grow suit in cooler weather. If you are using a heater, the ideal room temp is between 18 – 20 degrees.
• As your baby gets older, you can help older babies stay on their back by wrapping only their legs, and leaving their arms free so they self-soothe.
• It is so important that once your baby can roll, you stop wrapping.
• Keep the place your baby sleeps consistent. This can be the bassinet, or their cot, but the idea is consistency. Babies have sleep cycles, usually around 45 minutes in which they will wake up briefly. If they wake up, and nothing has changed, they will be able to self-settle themselves back to sleep. I know its so tempting to have your baby nap in the pram, or in the car, which trust me is fine now and then, but it is so beneficial to make sure your little one ideally gets at least one restorative sleep stretch in their own bed.
• Have an early bedtime. “But if I keep my baby up till 9 pm, then she might sleep through till 6 am or even 7 am which means I get a full night sleep too!?” I used to think like that, but then I realized that our babies need so much more sleep than we do. An ideal bedtime is anytime between 6 – 8 pm, which will allow them to get the recommended 11-13 hours sleep a night they need. An early bedtime means your baby is actually more likely to sleep through the night, as they are not at that overtired upset stage.
• Blackout blinds are a lifesaver. I cannot stress enough how helpful it is having a completely dark room for your baby to nap and go to sleep in. Firstly, it helps them associate between day and night, and so they are far more likely to sleep for longer at night. Secondly, if they do wake up between sleep cycles they are far less likely to go back to sleep if they can see toys or mobiles with flashing lights. Try to keep the room as dark as possible.
The great thing about our Frankie and Taj wraps is that they are made from soft organic cotton, breathable and gentle on baby’s skin. Once your bub has outgrown the burrito life, they can be used as picnic blankets, pram blankets, cot sheet, nappy change mat the options are endless. WINNING!
Author Kerala Drew
Mama Emma + Babe Sully