How to Swaddle Your Baby

A step-by-step guide to wrapping your little one up right. By Sally Wadyka
© MSN Healthy Living // © MSN Health
Being born can be quite a shock to the system of a tiny infant. Although babies are physically ready to leave the womb after a nine-month (or so) stay, they still miss the security and coziness of that confined environment. That’s why many experts refer to the first few months of an infant’s life as the “fourth trimester.” One thing that’s been proven to help ease the transition is an ancient baby-wrapping technique known as a swaddle. “It helps to recreate the feeling of being in the womb,” says Carole Arsenault, RN, founder of Boston Baby Nurse. “When you swaddle a baby, her heart rate decreases, she calm downs, crying decreases and it helps her relax.” That’s why it’s recommended to use it for naps and at bedtime. Here, how to do it like a pro:
Step 1:
Use a large square or rectangular baby blanket—ideally one that has a little bit of stretch to it.
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Step 2:

Lay the blanket down on a soft, flat surface (like the bed or carpeted floor).
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Step 3:

Fold the top corner down so that the blanket forms a triangle.
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Step 4:

Place the baby in the center of the folded area with his head just above the fold, and his shoulders just below it.
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Step 5:

Place the baby’s right arm directly against his body and hold it securely while you bring the left side of the blanket under the left arm (it stays outside the blanket for now) and across the baby’s chest. Tuck the ends around and underneath the baby’s right side.
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Step 6:

Fold the bottom of the blanket up over the baby’s chest and tuck the corner in over the baby’s right shoulder.
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Step 7:

Place the baby’s left arm flat against his body and hold it in place while you bring the right side of the blanket across his chest.
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Step 8:

Finish the swaddle by wrapping that piece all the way around the baby’s body and tucking it tightly into the fold in front. The finished product should be very snug and secure around the baby’s body.
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Step 9:

This basic swaddle technique is perfect for newborns. For babies who are three to four months old, you can start wrapping them with one arm left out as a way of helping them transition away from the swaddle.
Swaddle alternative: There are pre-folded Velcro swaddle blankets on the market that make the technique essentially foolproof (most will fit best on babies a month or older). You still need to follow the same steps when for securely the arms and wrapping the blanket tightly. But there’s no folding or tucking required—much easier, especially for middle of the night diaper changes!
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