Swaddling

What is swaddling?

Swaddling is the practice of tightly wrapping a newborn baby, to restrict the movement of their arms and upper body. 

Sometimes newborns like being swaddled as it can mimic the feeling of being in the womb. 

Does a newborn have to be swaddled?

No, but often they like to be. If you choose to swaddle your baby at home, ensure you follow the guidelines on how to do so safely.

swaddled baby lying on blanket

When should swaddling stop?

When a baby started to show signs of attempting to roll or when they are 8 weeks old, whichever comes first. Move baby into a correctly-fitted sleep sack when they can no longer be swaddled.

There is evidence that shows an increased risk of SIDS when a baby is swaddled and rolls onto their stomach, or is placed on their stomach.

Stopping swaddling at the earliest signs of attempting to roll or at 8 weeks old decreases this risk, according to Dr Rachel Moon, chair of the Task Force on SIDS. 

Safety tips for swaddling:

  • Make sure the swaddle does not come above the shoulders
  • Keep the swaddle tight around the torso, but loose around the hips and legs to allow for the “froggy” leg position and healthy hip development
  • Ensure the swaddle cannot come undone
  • Swaddling can increase the risk of becoming overheated, so layer baby according to the room temperature, and check for signs of baby being too hot; sweating, damp hair, or flushed cheeks.

View the International Hip Dypslasia Institute’s videos of how to swaddle your baby.