Many hospitals teach new parents how to swaddle their infant right after a baby is born as it can be one of the most useful tools in the new parent arsenal. But what is the best and safest blanket to use for swaddling?
The proper way to swaddle an infant is one of the first things parents-to-be or new parents will often learn in a prenatal class or after their baby is delivered. It should be easy, but swaddling can sometimes get confusing and questions arise. What type is the best to use? What about those conflicting reports on the safety of swaddling? Most often, what type of swaddle blanket is best.
The Best Swaddle Blankets Out There
There are lots of opinions on what constitutes a great swaddle blanket. In my experience, however, muslin swaddle blankets made from 100 percent cotton are some of the best swaddle blankets to use if you choose to swaddle your newborn — especially for safety reasons. We frequently used muslin blankets for my daughter the first couple months. They are soft, lightweight, easy-to-use and comfortable for baby. They are also breathable, helping prevent overheating, and allow plenty of room for baby to stretch legs while keeping baby snug and comfortable.
To learn how to properly swaddle, check out these step-by-step instructions for swaddling a baby with a traditional swaddling blanket.
If you’re looking for the best options, here are five superb swaddle blankets on the market. Also, continue reading on for swaddle blanket safety.
5 Best Swaddling Blankets
These muslin swaddle blankets are very popular and come in a variety of cute patterns. The soft material is versatile and can also be used in other ways, such as for a nursing cover, tummy time, burping cloth, etc. The breathable Aden and Anais swaddles come conveniently sold in sets of three or four.
The Halo SleepSack Swaddling Blankets were founded on the “Back-to-Sleep” message and aim to keep babies snugly sleeping safely. Also easy to use, baby simply zips into the sack and then the “wings” are folded over to keep little arms from flailing around. As an added bonus, when baby gets to big for swaddling, the sack can simply be used as a wearable blanket. My daughter, now one, still sleeps in a larger-sized Halo SleepSack on cold evenings and she loves it.
My daughter also used the Woombie on occasion, and they were quite easy to use. The swaddles come in several sizes and lots of fun designs and colors. Baby slides into a bean shaped pouch and then gets zipped up. Mesh vents allow for great airflow. It was one of the easiest swaddles we used. If you can zip a jacket, you can use the Woombie.
Another highly rated swaddling blanket, the Miracle Blanket is all-cotton and also easy to use. Baby’s feet are tucked into a pouch and then flaps wrap around her arms to keep her snug and secure. It’s been said that this swaddle is a great solution for those babies who tend to break out of other swaddles.
This new and innovative swaddle is a zip-up swaddle that allows a baby to sleep with his or her arms up; it allows baby to feel snug and secure and also self-soothe by enabling freedom of the arms while also protecting skin from fingernails. It’s a good choice for people who don’t want to deal with Velcro or learning to fold a blanket multiple times. Other perks? It’s roomy around the hips, made from breathable material and it also has a two-way zipper for easy diaper changes. Definitely an innovative find and worth a try!
What the Experts Say About Swaddling
Despite the conveniences of swaddling, it is also important to note that in recent years swaddling has become controversial.
“As everybody knows, babies are born and cleaned up and then put in a nice, tight swaddle to keep them comfortable and warm. They love it. You can see it on their faces. The problem comes when we don’t have a clear idea of when to tell parents to end it.”
-Danette Swanson Glassy, M.D. FAAP
Studies warn against swaddling due to an increased risk of SIDS – sudden infant death syndrome – if babies get overheated or turn over on their stomachs while swaddled. There is also the potential for swaddles to cause problems such as hip dysplasia if swaddled too tightly and for longer than the recommended time. It is important to make sure babies can move those little legs and hips around. Blankets also should be loose enough that a hand can fit between the blanket and a baby’s chest, but not loose enough so that it comes undone and pose a suffocation hazard.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has not taken an official stance on swaddling due to conflicting data, however, Rachel Y. Moon, M.D. FAAP, chair of the Task Force on SIDS and lead author of the AAP safe sleep guidelines, stresses that babies should not be swaddled past the age of two months.
“Given that we see deaths from babies who are swaddled and end up on their stomachs by 2-2½ months, I get really nervous when babies are swaddled past the age of 8 weeks,” according to Moon says.
Remember to take these additional precautions when swaddling your baby:
Do not let your baby overheat.
Signs a baby is overheated include rapid breathing, flushed cheeks, heat rash, sweating and damp hair.
Do it right.
Make sure you are swaddling in the correct way. Watch a swaddling how-to video several times if you have to.
Don’t make it too tight.
Make sure your baby’s hips are flexed and open, do not swaddle them too tight.
Keep a schedule.
Wake your baby up for regular mealtimes.
No stomach sleeping.
Don’t let your baby sleep on his or her stomach, especially when swaddled.