I am a HUGE believer of swaddling newborn babes. When done correctly, swaddling can help your baby sleep better, soothe a fussy baby and reduce SIDS risk. And when paired with a consistent sleeping area and white noise, you're well on your way to establishing healthy sleep habits.
Many infants will fuss, squirm or hysterically cry while a frustrated parent attempts to go though the steps of swaddling that they learned in the hospital, giving up and determining that their child "hates the swaddle". Newborn infants however don't immediately realize that they are moments away from womb-like bliss. Using a simple swaddling solution (like the one above that we love from Ollie World) is key for any sleep-deprived parent desperate for a few more hours of sleep at 3am. If you simply need a hospital refresher course, you've come to the right place.
Let's brew some coffee together and walk through my TWO favorite ways to swaddle:
The "Traditional" Swaddle Technique:
Before I had my first baby, I soaked up every minute of my newborn hospital classes and paid extra close attention to everything the doctor, the nurses, the pediatricians, EVERYONE had to say on how to raise a child. Then I had my son, and combined with an emergency cesarean and sleep deprivation, I couldn't even remember "Step One" of the hospital technique. So let's break it down here using the "DUDU" Method coined by Dr. Harvey Karp's method, author of Happiest Baby on the Block:
This is a great way to traditionally swaddle your baby, called the "DUDU" because of the Down-Up-Down-Up motions.
Swaddle Prep (START): Place the blanket on your bed like a diamond. Fold the top corner down a bit and place baby's neck at the top, as seen in the first picture above on the left.
Step One (DOWN): Hold baby's right arm straight down at his or her side. Bring the blanket down and tuck it under baby's back. Grab the blanket by the unwrapped shoulder and tug it SNUG. Don't be surprised if your baby fusses even louder when you are going through these motions, they don't realize they're just seconds away from baby bliss!
Step Two (UP): Hold baby's left arm straight at the side. Bring the bottom point of the blanket straight up and place it on the shoulder. Tuck the rest of the blanket under the whole left arm.
Step Three: (DOWN): Grab the blanket a few inches from baby's left shoulder and pull it down......just a little. Hold that small fold of blanket pressed against baby's chest like you are holding down a ribbon to make a bow.
Step Four: (UP): Phew! You're almost there! Grab the last free corner. Pull it straight out (to remove any slack) and then in one smooth motion bring it up and across baby's waist. Wrap it snugly around the body like a belt, to hold baby's arms down firmly. Soothe baby using your own techniques or using the 5 S's.
Step Five: DOWN that glass of wine, you did it!!! (Ok that's not a REAL Dudu-swaddle step but it feels so right to include it here).
The "Easy" Swaddle Technique using the Ollie Swaddle:
Did I mention I was sleep deprived? Did I also mention I could barely keep an eye open to attempt a 2am swaddle-ing with a large square blanket? Enter my favorite every-parent-can-do swaddle product from Ollie World, it's a true lifesaver! This one-size-fits-all swaddle can also convert to a "under the armpits" swaddle version once baby begins to roll over around 4 months old.
All it takes is THREE EASY STEPS:
Step One: Tuck the right non-velcro side of the Ollie under baby, just below the top of baby's shoulder. Make sure baby's arms are down before crossing swaddle over baby; this is the step where most babies can be fussy but keep up the good work, you're almost done!
Step Two: Secure the left side of the swaddle using the hook & loop closure.
Step Three: Pull fabric through elastic loop to close the bottom (and pull back out to do midnight diaper changes, YES!!!)
Step Four: Soothe baby! Wasn't that so simple?
For a video of "how-to" swaddle, visit Ollie's website here for a visual step by step as well as a transitioning video once the swaddle is no longer needed. Sleep & the City founder Lauren Olson is a trained & certified Happiest Baby on the Block Sleep Educator.