How Many Swaddles Do I Need For My Newborn?

Babies wearing Tencel Lyocell swaddles

How Many Swaddles Do I Need For My Newborn?

In your hunt for the best baby gear and new parent tips, chances are you’ve come across swaddling and swaddle blankets. While you may already know that swaddling is a cozy and effective option for newborn babies, if you've ever wondered, “How many swaddles do I need?” are unsure how to select the right swaddle fabric, or are looking for guidance on how to swaddle your baby safely, you're in the right place.

In those initial weeks of parenthood, sleep is a precious commodity for both parents and babies. While it’s completely normal for babies to be fussy and awake in the wee hours of the night, the constant challenge of soothing a fussy newborn to sleep can be overwhelming. This post aims to demystify swaddling and provide clarity on how many swaddle blankets you need to navigate those crucial first months with ease. We'll delve into the swaddling basics, benefits, and safety considerations and even help you choose the right swaddle blankets for your baby.

What Is Swaddling?

Swaddling is a traditional practice that involves snugly wrapping a baby in a blanket or cloth using a swaddle blanket. The classic swaddling technique creates the “baby burrito” many parents associate with a sleeping newborn. The goal of this burrito-like wrap is to create a soothing environment similar to the womb, promoting comfort and sound sleep in those early months. 

Understanding why babies like swaddles is key to appreciating the benefits.

What are the benefits of swaddling for my baby?

Swaddling offers a range of benefits that help promote a safe, secure, and soothing sleep environment for infants. Here are some of the main benefits babies experience when swaddled: 

  • Creates a calming effect: After spending nine months in the womb, it can take some time for babies to adjust to the world. However, the snug wrapping of a swaddle blanket mimics the womb environment and creates a calming feeling as they adapt to the transition. 
  • Prevents startling: The cocoon-like wrap prevents babies from waking from sleep due to the Moro reflex, a natural reflex that causes newborn infants to stretch their arms and legs out when startled by a sudden movement or loud noise (1). 
  • Minimizes risk of SIDs: Experts approve swaddles as a safe way to keep newborns warm without needing additional bedding and loose blankets, adding coziness while reducing the risk of suffocation and SIDs.

Additionally, swaddle blankets are highly versatile and serve various purposes. In addition to swaddling a baby, they can be used as burp cloths, nursing covers, stroller covers, tummy time mats, lightweight blankets, and even as makeshift changing pads in a pinch. This versatility makes them indispensable for parents, especially when traveling or on the go.

At what age should I stop swaddling my baby?

Swaddling is a safe option for newborn babies for the first two months. However, no matter how old they are, it’s important to stop swaddling your baby once they show signs of rolling. There is an imperative step in reducing the risk of SIDs. 

When your baby is ready to transition from the swaddle, consider switching to sleep sacks. These wearable blankets allow babies to continue to enjoy a safe and restful sleep. Like swaddle blankets, sleep sacks provide cozy warmth without the need for additional blankets in the crib.

Baby boy wearing organic blueberry swaddle

How Many Swaddles Do I Need?

The magic number of swaddle blankets varies, but having three to five on hand is a good starting point, ensuring you always have one or two clean options when needed. These blankets are a staple in those first months and beyond, so it’s important to have enough to meet the needs of your lifestyle. When deciding how many swaddles are right for you and your baby, consider factors like your laundry schedule, the baby's changing needs, and how you plan to use the swaddles. 

 Do I need different types of swaddles? 

Traditional Swaddle Blankets vs Wearable Swaddle Blankets

Traditional swaddle blankets are large pieces of fabric that parents use to wrap their babies snugly. While the fabrics vary, most swaddles are made with lightweight and breathable fabrics such as muslin, cotton, and Tencel. Due to their generous size, these blankets offer versatility beyond swaddling, serving as nursing covers, playmats, stroller blankets, and more. Additionally, parents have more control over the tightness and fit of the swaddle, but mastering the technique might take some time. 

Wearable swaddle blankets more closely resemble sleep sacks. Unlike traditional swaddle blankets that require wrapping the baby, wearable swaddles are garments designed to keep babies warm and safe while they sleep without the need to worry as much about perfecting the wrapping technique. Swaddle sacks are often fastened with velcro or snaps to ensure a snug enclosure. While these can be convenient for parents, their use is primarily limited to sleep and therefore cannot be repurposed beyond those early months. 

Swaddle Blankets vs. Receiving Blankets: What’s The Difference 

Both blankets are designed to keep babies warm and cozy. However, the specifics of their use are slightly different. Receiving blankets are designed to offer immediate comfort post-delivery. They are often smaller in size and play a crucial role immediately after birth by providing warmth and comfort in those first days. Varying in thickness, they focus on maintaining a newborn's temperature. 

Swaddle blankets are designed for secure and cozy sleep beyond a baby’s first days in the hospital, mimicking the womb for optimal sleep conditions in those first few weeks or months. These blankets are often larger and made with lightweight fabrics to provide comfort during sleep while promoting thermoregulation and breathability. They are also highly versatile, serving purposes beyond swaddling.

Baby girl wearing green organic swaddle

Is Swaddling Safe? 

Yes, when done correctly, swaddling can be a safe and effective method to promote sound sleep for your baby. However, it is crucial to adhere to recommended safety guidelines to ensure your baby's well-being. When incorporating swaddling into your baby’s sleep routine, it is essential to follow the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) sleep safety guidelines (2). These guidelines are designed to create a secure sleep environment for your infant:

1. Ensure a Firm, Flat Surface

Place your baby on a firm and flat sleep surface, such as a crib mattress. Avoid soft surfaces, such as sofas or armchairs, as they pose a risk of suffocation.

2. Use Sleep-Specific Products

Opt for swaddle blankets specifically designed for sleep. Ensure they are breathable and wrapped snuggly while providing ample room for natural hip movement. 

3. Use Fitted Sheets Only

Keep the crib or sleep space minimalistic. Use only fitted crib sheets, and avoid the use of loose bedding, as it reduces the risk of suffocation.

4. Keep Sleep Space Free of Clutter, Toys, and Loose Blankets

A clutter-free sleep environment is essential. Remove toys, pillows, and loose blankets from the crib to prevent any potential hazards during sleep.

5. Position Babies on Their Backs for Sleep 

Always place your baby on their back to sleep. This reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and ensures proper breathing.

6. Avoid Overheating

Ensure your baby is not overdressed. Choose lightweight, breathable fabrics, like Tencel, for swaddling blankets and sleepwear to prevent overheating.

7. Avoid Routine Sleep in Car Seats, Carriers, Strollers, and Swings

While these devices may be convenient for naps on the go, they are not suitable for routine sleep. Place your baby in a designated sleep space when at home.

Following these guidelines helps create a safe sleep environment for your baby, whether swaddled or not. It is crucial to stay informed about safe sleep practices and make adjustments as your baby grows and develops.

How to use swaddle blankets safely

Swaddling is an age-old technique that, when done correctly, can provide comfort and security for your baby during sleep. Therefore, it’s essential to follow proper swaddling techniques when wrapping your infant with a blanket.

To ensure your baby's safety while swaddling, consider the following tips (3):

1. Wrap Them Snug, but Don't Wrap Too Tight

While it's essential to create a snug wrap to provide the feeling of security, avoid wrapping too tightly. Overly tight swaddling increases the risk of hip dysplasia, a condition where the hip joint doesn't develop properly.

2. Use Thin Blankets Made from Breathable Fabrics, Such as Tencel

Opt for swaddle blankets made from breathable materials like Tencel. Tencel is known for its softness and breathability, helping to regulate your baby's body temperature and prevent overheating during sleep.

3. Place Your Baby Face-Up

When wrapping your baby, lay them on their back on a flat surface. Ensure their face is visible and not covered by the swaddle. This position aligns with safe sleep practices and reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

4. Follow the 2-Finger Rule: 

Check the tightness of the swaddle by following the “2-finger rule.” After swaddling, you should be able to fit two to three fingers between the baby's chest and the swaddle. This allows for comfortable breathing and prevents constriction.

5. Transition to Sleep Sack Once Baby Shows Signs of Rolling

As your baby grows and begins to show signs of rolling over, it's time to transition from swaddling to a sleep sack. This transition ensures your baby has the freedom to move while still staying warm and secure during sleep.

Baby swaddle

How Should I Dress My Baby Under Swaddle Blankets?

When it comes to dressing your baby for sleep under swaddle blankets, it's essential to consider factors like fabric, climate, and room temperature. Babies have a harder time regulating their body temperature compared to adults, making proper layering crucial for their comfort and safety. Opting for breathable fabrics like Tencel that promote thermoregulation can help maintain your baby's ideal body temperature throughout the night. 

As a general guideline, consider dressing your baby in one light layer beneath the swaddle. However, always consider the climate and temperature of the room when dressing your baby for sleep.  In cooler weather, a long-sleeved footie can provide extra warmth, while in warmer weather, a short-sleeved baby bodysuit may suffice. For more detailed guidance on dressing your baby for sleep, check out our comprehensive guide on dressing your baby for sleep.

Should I Swaddle My Baby Every Time I Put Them Down to Sleep? 

The decision to swaddle every time is subjective and should align with both the parent's preferences and the baby's comfort. No matter how often you decide to swaddle your baby, it’s imperative to adhere to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) safety guidelines. 

While swaddling doesn't have to be a constant practice, if you find that it brings comfort and aids in your baby's sleep, there's no harm in swaddling them each time they rest. Incorporating swaddling into your baby's bedtime routine can foster consistency and signal the transition to winding down (4). By staying attuned to your baby's cues and needs, you can determine the best approach to swaddling for optimal comfort and relaxation during sleep.

What If My Baby Doesn’t Like Swaddles? 

It's entirely normal for babies to have their preferences, and not all of them take to swaddling with the same enthusiasm. If you find that your baby doesn't enjoy being swaddled, don't worry – there are alternatives and adjustments you can make to ensure their comfort during sleep.

If your baby shows signs of discomfort or fussiness when swaddled, don't worry. There are safe alternatives available. If swaddling isn't your baby's cup of tea, consider using a baby sleep sack instead. Sleep sacks provide a cozy and secure environment without the same level of constriction. They allow your baby to move their arms and legs freely while still feeling snug and warm.

Baby wearing cuddle sprouts organic swaddle

Choosing the Best Swaddles For Your Baby

There are a lot of options out there when looking for swaddle blankets for your baby. However, not all swaddles are created equally. Opt for large swaddle blankets made from soft, breathable fabrics with the right amount of stretch to enable you to create a snug and cozy sleep environment for your newborn. 

Cuddle Sprout's swaddles, crafted from Tencel lyocell fabric, offer unmatched softness, breathability, and hypoallergenic qualities. They ensure optimal airflow, gentle stretch, and safety for your baby, providing the comfort they deserve for a peaceful slumber. Explore our swaddle collection for the perfect blend of luxury and care.

Happy Swaddling, Mama

While swaddles create a cozy haven for your baby's sound sleep and sweet dreams, learning the art of swaddling can take some practice. Don't be discouraged if your first few attempts don't go as planned. With patience and persistence, you'll become more comfortable with the technique. 

Remember, it's okay to seek guidance from healthcare professionals or parenting resources if you need assistance. You’ve got this, Mama!

Reference Links 

1. Pampers, What Is the Moro Reflex in Babies

2. American Academy of Pediatrics, Tips for Keeping Infants Safe During Sleep From the American Academy of Pediatrics

3., Swaddling: Is it Safe for Your Baby?

4. Kids Health, Sleep and Your 1- to 3-Month Old


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