Congratulations mama! It is almost time to have your baby, and the excitement is growing every counting day! Now is the time to start shopping for the perfect swaddle blankets.
Lots of moms use swaddling to help baby sleep better; after all, we could all use that extra few minutes for shower time or to finally catch up on some sleep. Wrapping our babies up like cute little burritos do so much more than help them sleep better. It makes them feel safe, reduces their startle reflex and gives them a sense of security needed to help you comfort them when they are upset. Wrapping your little one also can reduce the chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).The main features you would need to consider are the material, swaddling options and size.
Starting with choosing the fabric
When you start shopping for the baby's blanket, you will see tons of blankets made by many different fabrics. From our experience, we recommend soft (organic) cotton or bamboo. Depending on the swaddling type, it can be stretchy or muslin, which we will go into further details later. Any of these options would be great for newborns in general, but if your baby has sensitive skin or a certain skin condition such as eczema, we highly recommend using swaddles that are made from bamboo. Our son had eczema from birth, and once we switched to the bamboo swaddles & towels, it really helped alleviate some of his discomforts.
Bamboo has many benefits that make them the ideal fabric for babies. They are super soft and antimicrobial, so they are not abrasive to the skin, and helps to keep them from harmful microbes. On top of that, bamboo also has moisture-wicking, thermal regulating ability and are super absorbent, keeping your baby skin nice and fresh, as well as cool in the summer and warm during the colder season. This is why bamboo is increasingly becoming a preferred choice for moms when choosing swaddles. After all, the swaddle is one of the most often worn items for newborns.
The only drawback with bamboo is that it is not as durable compared to cotton. At Nightingale, we addressed this by using a mix of 70% bamboo 30% cotton so that you can enjoy all the awesome benefits of bamboo without compromising the durability.
Expecting parents often ask:“What are muslin swaddle blankets?” When browsing through the options, you might notice a lot of them are “muslin”. It simply refers to a looser style of weaving compared to the common method, and the final product is more breathable. This is especially important because it helps to lower the risk of SIDS.
Are swaddle blankets safe for newborns?
There are two main types of swaddle blankets: Squares and secured-style swaddles. Square refers to the square (often muslin) swaddle fabric which you use to “fold” your baby into a burrito-like wrap. The latter uses either a Velcro end or zippers to secure your infant in place.
The muslin swaddles are definitely the most versatile, as they can be used for a variety of purposes: stroller cover, nursing cover, light blanket, etc., The fact that they are made of 1-2 layer muslin also makes them ideal for warmer seasons too. The only thing with muslin swaddles is that it might take some time to master your swaddling moves, but once you do, you can create a wrap that is just right for your baby every time!
The swaddles with closure (zip or Velcro) on the other hand, are super convenient and easy to secure, especially when you are trying to work it in the middle of the night. It also helps if your baby often manages to wiggle off the swaddle. There are different options and some are even designed to allow your little one room to wiggle her arms and feet. Keep in mind that as these are only designed for swaddling exclusively, so they are not as versatile as the muslin swaddles, and your baby would eventually outgrow them.
Sleep Advisor also has an in-depth article that explains the difference between sleep sacks and swaddles, and when you should consider each option
Should I swaddle my newborn at night?
It is generally safe to swaddle your newborn, but you need to make sure the blanket is snug but not tight. You should always place the baby to sleep on her back. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has some very useful guidelines on swaddling which we strongly recommend every parent to read.
The risks of anything happening to your baby will be lower due to bundling them up if you will remember these tips.
Don't wrap your baby too tightly around the chest or legs. Having the cloth too tight around the chest can restrict breathing. Having it too tight on the legs can cause future hip issues.
Don't wrap too loosely. Loose blankets can work their way into your baby's face and cause breathing difficulties.
Always wrap your baby snug, making sure the blankets cannot come undone.
Muslin fabric swaddles are highly breathable, thus helping to prevent SIDS.
When should I stop swaddling?
You should look to stop swaddling when your baby is around 2-3 months, before he intentionally starts to roll.
What should you wear your baby under a swaddle?
If your baby has average body temperature, one layer maybe all he needs when being swaddled. Many newborns do not need more than one layer of clothing when he is sleeping, but a preemie baby may need more. If there is a possibility of your baby having a low body temperature, you may want to consider putting an extra thin layer of clothing on under the swaddle. Remember that each baby is different and that as the temperature changes, you should also constantly check if he’s comfortable. One tip you can use is to check the back of your baby’s head. If he gets too hot or starts sweating, take one layer off.
To Swaddle or Not to Swaddle: It is Your Choice
If you are considering whether you wish to use a muslin swaddle blanket or a secured one with zipper, remember there is not a good or bad choice. Each baby is different, and he would prefer one over another. The truth is, for most parents, it might take some time to find the right swaddle that suits your baby’s needs, and that’s totally normal. Follow the guidelines from the AAP above, and you should be confident to wrap your little ham from the first day!