How to Swaddle: Must Know Swaddling Tips For Newborns

How to Swaddle: Must Know Swaddling Tips For Newborns

Babies have been swaddled for centuries, the act of wrapping a baby firmly replicates the feeling of being inside the womb, all warm, snug and secure. Swaddling a baby is known to provide a calming effect and help baby sleep because by limiting the startle reflex when a newborn’s hands twitch or jerk, waking them from their sleep. Swaddling or wrapping a baby may look easy enough but do it the wrong way and you can put your baby at risk; knowing how to swaddle is essential.

How to swaddle a baby step by step

For step by step instructions, watch this how to swaddle a newborn baby video.

How not to swaddle baby

Healthy Hips Australia advise against wrapping baby’s legs tight and straight down or pressed together because babies’ hip joints can loosen in the straight-leg position and this can lead to increased risk of developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH). Babies’ hip joints are easily loosened thanks to hormones from their mother. During pregnancy, the hormones that relax a mother’s ligaments for childbirth can also enter the baby’s blood, relaxing the baby’s and therefore, increasing the risk of DDH.

When swaddling your baby ensure their head is not covered and that the swaddle isn’t too tight across the chest so that it inhibits proper breathing.  It can be a fine balance, swaddling. It should be firm enough to secure bub comfortably but it shouldn’t be so loose that it can come undone and pose as a suffocation risk. Lastly, a baby should only ever be placed on her back with feet at the bottom of the cot.

When you shouldn’t swaddle your baby

There are several instances when you shouldn’t swaddle your baby, including:

  • If your baby has started rolling from their back to their tummy and onto their back again.
  • If your baby is showing signs of a fever
  • If your baby is sharing a sleep surface (including bed-sharing) with an adult.

What type of baby swaddle is best?

It is safest to use only a lightweight baby swaddle such as a cotton or muslin wrap like we have in our baby boxes. Never use baby blankets because they can cause the baby to overheat as they are not breathable.

Will my baby get too hot?

To prevent your baby overheating, it’s important that baby’s clothing underneath the swaddle is appropriate for the climate. In warm Australian weather, a nappy and singlet are suitable whereas in the cooler months you might dress your baby in a lightweight grow suit which we include in our boxes.  Another thing to be mindful of when wrapping your baby is that they don’t have an infection or fever because this can also lead to overheating. 

My baby keeps getting out of their swaddle. What do I do?

If your baby has turned into a little Houdini, it’s a sign that they are nearing transition into something like a sleep sack or sleeping bag. You can find a sleeping bag in a baby gift box such as our Penny the Pingu, Polar Bear Express and Frosty the Snowman boxes.

If you’re concerned about the safety of your baby, we recommend reading through the references below which address how to swaddle, hip dysplasia and SIDS in more detail.


Safe Swaddling Guidelines – Healthy Hips Australia

Red Nose

Red Nose – References for wrapping and swaddling babies

The Royal Children’s Hospital – Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip


Martina Vitulli
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