Knowing that your baby will sleep long and sound can give you great peace of mind.
For that to happen, you’ll usually need to have baby wrapped up tight in a good swaddle.
The thought of wrapping your baby tightly so that they can’t move their arms might sound like a crazy idea! However, many parents vouch for the comforting effect swaddling has on their newborns. Plus, it’s dangerous to put a baby to sleep with a loose blanket as they can easily suffocate.
Not only do babies sleep for longer periods of time when swaddled, but they also tend to cry less. This is because swaddles offer a womb-like feel in the outside world, making babies feel more secure.
Just be sure to keep safety in mind as you choose the best swaddle for your family. As your baby grows up, you’ll need to transition to a less-restrictive pod to keep your baby safe when they start to roll over.
There are three main types of swaddles to consider:
- Swaddle blankets
- Swaddle sacks
- Stretchy pods
You can also choose from plenty of different swaddle materials:
- Cotton muslin
- Jersey knit
It sounds overwhelming, but don’t worry. Below we’ll break down the major varieties of swaddles and when it makes sense to use each one.
The blanket is the original swaddle and has a very straightforward design.
Simply put, it is a large blanket that is folded and then wrapped around a baby to keep them snug, tight, and feeling secure.
Doctors do recommend leaving the swaddle behind by the time your baby is three or four months old. Once babies are old enough to start rolling over on their own, the swaddle becomes more dangerous than helpful.
Since your baby’s arms are wrapped in the swaddle, they could suffocate face down in their crib.
But until your baby starts trying to turn onto their tummy, a secure blanket swaddle can effectively keep them calm and cozy.
As for size, blanket swaddles should be squares with minimum edge lengths of 45 inches to fit snuggly around your baby.
- You can use the same size blanket as your baby grows
- Versatile so you can try various swaddling techniques
- Swaddle blankets are easy to find and affordable
- Can be hard to master the wrapping technique
- Swaddle can come undone if not wrapped correctly, which can be dangerous for your baby
Swaddle sacks are a combination of a sleep sack and a traditional swaddle.
While you might be aware of what the traditional swaddle is a.k.a a blanket swaddle, a sleep sack is a loose, wearable blanket that is relatively safer for babies since it doesn’t come undone as easily.
This type of swaddle takes the guesswork out of the process with a simple closure design. Swaddle sacks can use velcro, zippers, or snap closures to keep a baby’s arms tight to his sides.
Much like a onesie, all you have to do is dress your baby in the sleep sack and fasten it closed, no fancy folding involved.
Swaddle sacks are a two step process.
First, you have to place the baby into the wrap and secure them, often with a zipper. Then you swaddle the arms in tight with velcro flaps.
You might find snap closures on some models that keep the baby snug as well.
- Very easy to fasten
- Different sizes available as your baby grows
- No learning curve to use
- Babies can become strong enough to escape the enclosure
- Velcro closures can wear out over time
- Can only be used until your baby starts to roll over
- Velcro can be loud and cumbersome
Woombie and SwaddlePod are well-known brands of stretchy pods.
These swaddles are made of stretchy elastic fabric and zip up to enclose your baby, giving them that cozy womb-like feeling.
The pod is designed to mimic the enclosed – yet slightly flexible – environment of a mother’s womb.
Swaddle pods are especially great because the stretchy design lets baby move its limbs more freely, helping avoid potential hip problems.
Plus, some models have a convertible design that lets you wrap your baby without restricting its arms. This makes it safe even when your baby can start to roll over.
- Easy to use
- Gives more space for your baby to stretch their limbs
- Convertible models can be safe to use even after your baby can roll over
- Can only be used for a short period
- Different sizes required once the baby starts growing
Swaddle or sleep sacks?
Some parents get confused between a swaddle and a sleep sack.
Both versions can help your baby sleep soundly and safety, but there are differences between the two that should you make a note of.
A sleep sack is like a wearable sleeping bag—one that acts as more of a blanket without the risk that loose blankets come with. There is also plenty of room for a baby to stretch their legs and hips.
On the other hand, a swaddle provides a tighter fit for your baby to recreate the coziness of the womb.
You can also get one that offers the convenience of both a swaddle and sleep sack known as the swaddle sack.
In the end, your baby’s stage of development and safety are crucial considerations when selecting the kind of sleepwear you want.
Our advice is to keep swaddles for newborns since it helps them feel extra secure and reduces the risk of SIDS, while you can consider a sleep sack when transitioning your baby away from swaddling.
For more, read our guide to swaddles vs sleep sacks.
The different types of swaddle fastenings
While all types of swaddles can securely wrap your baby, there are a few other details that can make swaddling a little easier.
A major one? Fastenings.
These are the most common fastenings found on swaddles:
A zip closure or zipper is quick and easy to use, and it also makes it hard for the baby to break loose.
We highly recommend opting for swaddles that come with a two-way zipper or one that zips from the bottom. This will allow you to change your baby’s diaper or nappy without waking them up with movement by their face.
Velcro makes swaddling your baby simple, giving you a secure wrap for your baby while also making it easier for you to adjust the swaddle for the perfect fit.
However, Velcro can be loud when you open it, which can wake or startle your sleeping baby.
The blanket swaddle is a classic, and has no additional fasteners.
Instead, you need to wrap and fold the blank to secure your baby.
A major downside of wrap closures is the learning curve.
It will take you time to learn how to wrap the multiple pieces of fabric over your little one, which also makes changing time hard and time-consuming.
But once you master the technique, this type of swaddle is snug and secure.
Depending on what you’re looking for in your swaddle, make sure you pick your most preferred style of fasting that is convenient for you and comfortable for your baby.
You‘ll also find swaddles that offer more than one type of closure, such as zippers and wings.
The different materials of swaddle blankets
When it comes to keeping your baby comfortable in their swaddle, you should also consider the material.
These are the most common fabrics used in swaddles on the market today:
Cotton muslin swaddles are most suitable for babies due to several reasons, and many claim it’s the best option.
One of the greatest benefits is it’s incredibly lightweight, making it a great option for summers.
You can test the softness of these swaddles by touching it, and the smooth texture will show you just how comfortable your baby will be.
Cotton is also very breathable, allowing sweat and moisture to evaporate through it.
This helps regulate your baby’s body temperature, keeping them cool and calm while they sleep.
Jersey knit swaddles are another fine option for babies and have become very popular among parents for its durability.
Usually made from a cotton blend or synthetic fibers, this is perhaps the longest lasting material available, and it can withstand prolonged wear and many cycles in the laundry without wearing down.
Like cotton muslin, the jersey knit material is also very breathable, which can be useful for babies who sweat while sleeping.
Moisture from sweat can easily escape which keeps baby dry and happy.
The bamboo fabric is making waves in the clothing industry, with several brands realizing the benefits of this fabric.
Bamboo swaddles are made up of bamboo viscose, which is three times softer than cotton – plus, the fabric is hypoallergenic.
Your little one’s skin is very sensitive and susceptible to skin allergies when put in contact with rough blankets, which is why many people prefer the bamboo material that naturally contains bamboo kun, a natural ant-microbial.
You will find many swaddles being made up of polyester due to its soft texture. In addition to this, it’s also quite strong and durable, which helps it last longer.
The material is also very flexible, so your baby can easily stretch their hips and legs without feeling uncomfortable.
Lastly, polyester swaddles are resistant to creases, dry up quickly, and do not shrink.
Come winter, you will have to increase the layers on your baby to keep them warm and cozy.
Fleece is a good choice for swaddling during cold weather because of its heat-trapping properties.
A fleece swaddle can be a good choice when going out for a winter walk with your baby, as well.
The fabric is also very soft and dries quickly, which is great if you catch a few snowflakes while walking to the car.
When you first come home with your newborn, you’ll want to be armed with plenty of swaddling options to help get through naps and long nights.
If you want something simple, you can opt for a swaddle sack, but if you prefer more versatile classic, a swaddle blanket would be a better fit.
Try a few different brands and models to see which ones you and your baby like most before buying too many of one kind.
While your preference as a parent matters, you should also think practically about your baby’s comfort.
For example, cotton and bamboo keep baby cool during hot summers, whereas a fleece sack might be better if you experience cold winters.
Swaddling can help your baby feel safe and secure while they sleep, helping them transition from the warmth of the womb to to the warmth of your home.
And when baby sleeps well, you can get some much-needed shut eye too. It’s a win-win for everyone!
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Hope this helps!