Your Mini Cart

Swaddling FAQ

Swaddling FAQ

When should I stop wrapping my baby?

Swaddling works particularly well for about the first 2-3 months, as it reduces your baby startling herself awake. So any time after your baby's startle reflex stops is a good time to start weaning off wrapping.

We find it works best to wean baby off wrapping gradually, by first introducing wrapping with one arm out. Then you can start to introduce a sleeping bag, which is the ideal replacement to swaddling.

The ergoPouch Cocoon Swaddle Bag is very useful for weaning off swaddling, as you can use it with both arms in, one arm in or both arms out.

The other key consideration is whether your baby is rolling. Swaddling is very safe when baby is sleeping on their back, but has an increased SIDS risk if baby is swaddled and sleeping on their tummy. So if your baby starts to roll onto their tummy, you either need to use a Safe T Sleep Sleepwrap to keep baby securely on their back or stop wrapping. Using a wedge is not a secure option.    

Is it safe to swaddle with baby's arms by her sides?

We believe arms down swaddling is the best option, as it stays much more secure than arms on chest swaddling. One of the risks with swaddling occurs when the wrapping comes undone and gets up by baby's face, and this is far less likely when you wrap securely with arms by sides.

We also asked Dr Harvey Karp, pediatrician, academic and author of 'The Happiest Baby' why he believes arm down swaddling is the best option:

" I am unaware of any study that has shown that swaddling with the arms of a full term baby at the side leads to any ill effect at all...the only recommendation for arms up swaddling is for premmies...this helps them be more alert and neurologically organized. However, this is not a concern for term babies who are being swaddled to improve sleep and soothe crying.

That is why this approach has received the overwhelming support of all groups in the US...from the doulas (DONA) to the Surgeon General, from the founder of Lamaze to La Leche League, from Prevent Child Abuse America to Attachment Parenting International.

Most of the Native Americans swaddled the arms down until ~6 months and they were well known to be brave and independent. The evidence of swaddling with arms down shows overwhelmingly that babies have more relaxed heart rates and respirations and that they sleep better (longer...yet they are more arouseable so they are less at risk for SIDS).

This approach (with arms down) is showing great promise for improving breast feeding success rates and lowering the incidence of depression, marital stress, shaken baby syndrome, and even SIDS."

But my baby settles better with her arms up

In that case you are best to use the Love To Dream swaddle, which helps control your baby's startle reflex but allow her arms to relax in the 'up' position above her head.

Can swaddling cause overheating?

Swaddling in itself is extremely unlikely to cause your baby to overheat. For example, if your baby had no clothes on and a muslin wrap, she is not going to overheat just because she is wrapped.

Remember to consider all the layers on your baby - her clothing, her baby wrap and the blankets over the top. It is the total combination of layers, rather than one swaddling layer, that will determine if your baby is too hot or too cold, or just right.

When checking how warm your baby is, slide your hand down onto her chest or feel her neck. It should be warm but not hot and sweaty. Don't worry if baby's hands are a little chilly, as this should not effect her overall temperature.

We recommend using 100% cotton wraps, as these breathe better than a synthetic fabric.

It is also essential for baby safety that their head is uncovered for sleeping clear at all times.

For more information, read our info on Avoiding Overheating Your Baby

My baby cries and struggles when I wrap him. He hates being wrapped!

Remember your baby is just days or weeks old, and doesn't really know what he likes or dislikes. You know best, and swaddling will generally help your baby settle quickly and sleep longer, both of which are good for your baby and you.

Many babies are not swaddled until they are over-tired, and are already screaming or crying as they should have been in bed earlier. If you need more information on recognising tired signs click here

Babies are used to being squashed in your womb, and were happy like that for 9 months.

Babies also like to be swaddled right! They like firm and secure, not loose so they can squirm about and become unwrapped.

I would certainly not give up swaddling because your baby is crying as you wrap him. He may need more calming techniques in addition to swaddling, and also avoiding him getting tired will make a significant difference. For example, turn your white noise on before you start wrapping and turn baby onto her side once she is wrapped.

I can't master your swaddling technique!

I recommend getting a copy of The Happiest Baby DVD, as Dr Karp shows the swaddling technique brilliantly.

However there are many excellent 'fitted wraps' that stay secure and require no swaddling skill at all. For example, the Love to Dream and ergoCocoon simply zip up and stay secure.

Or here's our video which may help!

Why does my baby always come unwrapped?

There are 2 reasons babies come unwrapped:

1. The wrap is either too small or doesn't have enough stretch

We recommend using a wrap 1m x 1m for newborns and 1.2 x 1.2m for babies over 3 months. The best fabric for a really firm wrap is stretch cotton.

2. The technique is not right.

Click here for my swaddling instructions or if you are wrapping a baby who likes to suck his fingers, or is getting old enough to transition to a sleeping bag, then click here for instructions for swaddling with one arm out.

Can swaddling cause clicky hips or hip problems?

Research has found that in occasional cases, swaddling can increase problems with baby's hips. This is generally when baby's legs have been very tightly wrapped or in particular, if all leg movement has been restricted. For example, in some traditional cultures a 'cradle board' was used for swaddling, which as a piece of wood that babies were tightly swaddled to and it restricted leg and hip movement completely, for most of the first 6 months or longer!!

To ensure that your baby's hips develop normally, we recommend that you:


  • Allow your baby's legs natural movement. For example, don't force your baby's legs out straight if they want their legs bent.

  • Use fabric that has some stretch in it, so your baby can kick and wriggle within the wrap. Stretch cotton works best for this.

  • Wrap the top half of the wrap firmly, but do the legs and hips more loosely, particularly if wrapping past the 3 month mark.

  • Ensure your fitted swaddle is wide enough in the hips - all our range are hip healthy in size.

  • Don't wrap your baby to a piece of wood!!!!!

Recommended Articles