A baby burrito, although it sounds delicious, is not something to eat. It refers to a snugly swaddled baby, with just their sweet face showing. Babies have been wrapped in swaddling clothes for centuries. If you’re a first-time mom, though, you may have lots of questions about swaddling, from how to swaddle to what blanket to use.
Safety First, Always
One of the biggest concerns with any new parent is the safety of their newborn. Even before the baby is born, parents are taught about safe sleep practices. This includes putting babies to sleep on their backs and not putting extra blankets and toys in their crib. When parents hear that babies shouldn’t have blankets in their crib, they may wonder if swaddling is safe.
The American Academy of Pediatrics establishes the guidelines for safe sleep. The AAP supports swaddling as a safe way to wrap a baby in a blanket. Their only warning is that the parents do not wrap the legs and hips too tightly. Studies have shown that a swaddle that is too tight can lead to developmental hip dysplasia, where the hips do not form properly.
When planning to swaddle your baby, keep these safety tips in mind:
- Ensure the blanket is tucked snuggly around the baby and cannot come loose during the night.
- Always place a baby on their back to sleep, especially when swaddled.
- Do not swaddle the baby too tightly. Learn how to swaddle correctly to promote proper hip development.
- Do not let the baby get overheated. You can dress the baby in just a onesie and use a light blanket to swaddle.
- Do not place extra blankets over the baby.
Steps to Swaddle a Baby
When you’re in the hospital after the birth of your baby, ask the nurses to show you the correct technique for swaddling. If you are not able to receive in-person training, then follow these steps:
- Use a large, square blanket. Place the blanket on a flat surface in the shape of a diamond. Fold the top corner down about six inches.
- Place your baby’s head face-up on the straight edge that you folded down. You want the straight line of the blanket to be even with the top of the baby’s shoulders.
- Lay your baby’s left arm against their left side. Grasp the left edge of the blanket and pull it snugly across your baby’s arm and chest. Tuck the edge of the blanket under their body on the other side. Do not wrap it around the right arm.
- Note: You can start the swaddle on either side. Here we specify a side to keep the instructions simple.
- Take the bottom of the blanket and pull it up towards the baby’s head. Tuck the blanket either into the first fold or around the back of the baby.
- Now take the right corner of the blanket and wrap it all around the baby, enclosing its right arm. Depending on the size of the blanket, you may need to wrap it around more than once to get a snug fit.
If you prefer a visual guide, the Mayo Clinic has a great five-step slideshow on swaddling a baby here.
Blankets Used for Swaddling
You can find many compiled lists on the internet of the best baby blankets. The truth is that the best swaddling blankets for your baby are the ones that make it the most comfortable for both you and baby. Common materials used are muslin and jersey. There are blankets made specifically for swaddling, such as a Halo SleepSack. You may want to try a few different kinds to determine which ones work best for you.
Regardless of what you decide, swaddling is a great way to keep your baby snug and safe. Most babies like to be swaddled because it feels like the warmth and snugness they enjoyed in the womb. Follow these tips and safety guidelines to swaddle your baby and both mom and baby will be content.