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How to swaddle a newborn baby: step-by-step instructions, up to what age, photo

Glinskikh Elena

Published: 07/12/2023

Reading time: 3 minutes


If earlier swaddling a newborn was considered a mandatory procedure, now mothers themselves can decide whether to wrap the baby in swaddling clothes or immediately dress them up in beautiful baby clothes. In the age of diapers, diapers are no longer mandatory: pediatricians do not give any specific recommendations. True, there are rare cases when swaddling a newborn is strictly contraindicated, for example, with hip dysplasia. Otherwise, swaddling remains a popular way to protect your baby from cold and drafts.

Benefits of swaddling

  • Brings you closer to the conditions of intrauterine life. It is believed that a child who is tightly swaddled experiences less stress and adapts more quickly to the outside world. However, opponents of the procedure mention that the baby tends to the natural position of the embryo, pressing his arms and legs, which means that the “column” position, on the contrary, is uncomfortable for him.
  • Helps to ensure normal thermoregulation. Inside the diaper cocoon, the optimum temperature is maintained.
  • Prevents diaper rash. Diapers easily pass air and remove moisture, which can not be said even about ultra-modern breathable diapers. So in this case, the advantage of the diaper is really obvious.
  • Development of touch. It is claimed that the soft touch of the fabric on the body develops tactile sensitivity in children. And during the first baths, it is recommended to use a thin diaper: this will allow the baby not to be afraid of water.

Disadvantages of swaddling

  • Unnatural posture. The child tends to press his arms and legs to himself, and tight swaddling does not allow this.
  • Lack of motor activity in some cases can lead to a violation of the formation of the musculoskeletal system: the child needs to move.
  • Baby can overheat in diapers, especially in summer or in a hot room. And in winter, turning out of diapers, it can freeze.
  • Too tight swaddling in some cases slows down blood flow, which can adversely affect the child’s cardiovascular system.

Varieties of diapers

To make your child feel comfortable in diapers, you should carefully consider the choice of fabric.

  • It should be of high quality, preferably plain, without bright prints and patterns. Optimally — unpainted, made of natural fabrics, dense and soft.
  • When stretched, the fabric must not creep or tear.
  • It must be highly absorbent, wick moisture and allow air to pass through.
  • The edge of the diaper should be finished with an overlock to avoid the appearance of rough and dense edges that can injure the delicate skin of the newborn.
  • It is better to choose diapers made of square fabric with a side of at least 1.2 m. This is enough to swaddle even the largest baby.
  • It is recommended to choose diapers made of cotton, flannel, knitwear. These simple rules will ensure maximum comfort for the child.

Do not forget that diapers should only be washed with baby products and rinsed well. To make the fabric of the diaper softer after washing, it can be ironed on both sides.

Techniques for swaddling babies

There are several techniques for swaddling a newborn. Consider the most popular methods step by step.

  • Classic close swaddling. Turn the top corner of the diaper over and lay the baby down. The upper edge of the fabric should coincide with the line of the shoulder, the child’s arms are fixed along the body. The right edge of the diaper is wrapped around the body and secured, the baby is wrapped with the left side of the fabric. The lower end of the diaper is straightened, folded and fixed. Swaddling with free hands: to keep the baby’s hands free, the diaper is lowered so that the top edge of the diaper reaches the armpits. Such swaddling is suitable for both newborns and older children, up to 3 months. Then it is recommended to switch to more free types of swaddling.
  • Loose (wide) swaddling or foot swaddling. This type is used for children aged 3 to 5 months (up to 6 months in some cases) or for children with hip dysplasia. The diaper spreads out and folds diagonally. The large edge of the resulting triangle is wound under the child’s lower back, the lower corner rises to the stomach, and the side corners are tucked into the resulting belt. Since such open swaddling does not affect the hands, the baby must be dressed on top.
  • Tight swaddling, or postnatal swaddling: this method is most often used in maternity hospitals. An infant is laid down so that the head is also on the diaper. After that, one edge is brought along the back (the handles are fixed in the same way as in the classical way), then the second. The lower edge is laid on the chest and fixed in the resulting pockets. In this position, the child cannot move, so it is believed that such swaddling contributes to a long and restful sleep.

In the cold season, especially for walking, either a special insulated envelope or a blanket is additionally used.

Up to what age to swaddle a baby

Tight postnatal swaddling is only suitable for babies in the first month of life. Then it is better to refuse tight swaddling.

Pediatricians say that a baby can be swaddled up to 4-5 months. Older children are already freely turning on their tummy, and diapers will interfere with them.

Some parents prefer to swaddle their active babies up to six months at night so that the child can sleep peacefully without disturbing himself with the movements of the arms and legs.

Information verified by an expert

Glinskikh Elena


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Article contents

  • Benefits of swaddling
  • Disadvantages of swaddling
  • Varieties of diapers
  • Baby Swaddling Techniques
  • Until what age to swaddle a baby

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Swaddle or not? That’s the question.


You will not envy modern parents — from all sides they hear various recommendations regarding the care of a newborn: pediatricians advise one thing, consultants on lactation and child care — another, and the older generation — their own, “tested for centuries” … How not to get confused in these conflicting instructions Yes, even with the first child?

After the birth of my eldest son, I also had to make more than one decision, focusing more on common sense than on intuition and personal experience. The question «To use diapers or not?» didn’t bother me for long. After studying everything that was found on this topic on the Internet, the answer came quickly — we can do without them! Imagine my surprise when I felt that my baby obviously prefers a piece of cloth to beautiful blouses and sliders…

A year ago we had another son. The question «To swaddle or not?» I was no longer standing in front of me — of course, to swaddle. Five years later, after reading again articles on the Internet on this topic, I began to reflect on how much more difficult it is now to convince me otherwise. Much of what I read still seemed logical, but did not match my experience and feelings.

The strongest argument against swaddling sounded like this: «Give the child freedom and the opportunity to develop!» Actually, I am not against freedom and development, but for a newborn baby, in my opinion, adaptation is more important. The softer and faster the child adapts to new conditions, the better it will develop. And it will happen by itself, naturally.

In the last weeks of intrauterine development, the baby no longer has the ability to freely bend / unbend his legs and arms, they are tightly pressed to the body, and this state becomes familiar to him. Agree, after all, it doesn’t occur to anyone to “release” a child in advance, just because it’s cramped there!

And now the baby is born and finds itself in a huge space for him, his arms and legs are deprived of support, so he involuntarily makes sharp uncoordinated movements with his limbs, which are commonly called “throw-ups”. As a rule, the child is frightened by these movements, and quickly calms down if he is pressed to you, wrapped in a diaper or laid in a sling*.

Of no small importance are the tactile sensations of the newborn. If a mother carries a baby in her arms, hugging him to her and warming him with her warmth, then you can do without diapers and a lot of clothes. By touching various surfaces with bare arms and legs, the child receives enough information for development.

Unfortunately, not all modern parents succeed in carrying a baby all the time. Someone even thinks that children should not be «accustomed to hands.» If there is a need to put the baby away for some time, it is advisable to arrange a cozy “nest” for him with a blanket or pillow for feeding, so that he feels protected, and swaddle.

Swaddling is not a hindrance to the development of touch, rather the opposite. In the diaper, the baby stumbles not only on the fabric itself, but also on his own body. She clasps it, creates support, stretches and heats up in different places in different places. With free swaddling, the fabric does not prevent the baby from pulling the handles to the face, does not make it difficult to breathe, and in general, does not aim to tie the baby.

As a rule, in two or three weeks the child gets used to his hands, and swaddling «with handles» can be replaced with swaddling «under the handles». The total duration of swaddling depends not only on how the birth proceeded, how the adaptation to new living conditions went on, but also on the temperament of the baby. For restless babies, the diaper helps to group and fall asleep faster, as well as to eat mother’s milk, without being distracted by extraneous movements.

We all know that little kids don’t like to dress up. They are easier and faster to swaddle than to wear. In a diaper, the baby is more comfortable than in clothes, and warmer. Remember at least the difference between a mitten and a glove. The newborn feels the same way — it is, as it were, divided by clothes into parts (handles, legs separately, etc.). The diaper creates a sense of integrity, imitates the position of the child in the fetal bladder.

I do not agree with the statement that swaddling contributes to the development of diaper rash in the baby. To prevent this from happening, you just need to learn how to plant a child**. In addition, you should not lubricate the skin of a newborn with various ointments and oils (although this is universally recommended), since as a result of this the skin becomes thinner and clogged, which contributes to its rapid further damage.

There are several more arguments in favor of swaddling. For example, economy and practicality. Diapers are sold, as a rule, in three sizes, they can be used from birth to about a year (for this grown baby, they are placed diagonally). They cost much less than children’s clothing, last longer, are easy to wash and dry quickly.

If the mother successfully masters planting, then the number of wet diapers is reduced significantly. While the child is very small, diapers do not have to be washed constantly. It is enough just to rinse them in the washing machine for 5-10 minutes and turn on the “spin” mode. The presence of an additional function «easy ironing» allows you to forget about ironing.

Summing up, I want to note that for a newborn child there is nothing better than mother’s hands and breast milk. The diaper is only a temporary replacement for maternal hugs, a means for the soft adaptation of the crumbs, and it must be used based on these considerations. The presence of modern household appliances solves the issue of constant washing, drying and ironing, allowing the mother to have more time to relax and communicate with the baby.

Sling * — a special sling for carrying a child.

Disembarkation** — assistance to the mother in the administration of the natural needs of the infant.

By alexxlab

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