Mummy Confession: I admit, I hate how the swaddle appears, and the pictures of babies in swaddles sometimes look downright weird. However, they are a lifesaver for many parents as far as sleep is concerned.
*Disclosure: I was not given any of the following swaddle products unless indicated otherwise, and am not affiliated with, sponsored by, or writing on behalf of any of the following companies, and this is my honest review and opinion. This blog, however contains affiliate links to Amazon which means I make a comission off qualifying purchases. Read more about this in my disclosure policy.
Swaddling. The word alone provokes a picture in my mind of baby Jesus in a manger, wrapped up in cloths. Nowadays, there is a much wider variety of options when it comes to swaddling. You can go for the old-fashioned method with a muslin wrap, or use one of the other many options for easier swaddling.
Why do parents swaddle babies? It’s called the startle, or Moro, reflex^. When babies are fresh out of the womb, they “jump” at the sound of things (and sometimes at no sounds, they just do), causing their arms to go flailing. This wakes up baby, and causes mum, dad, or whomever is watching bubs to soothe, resettle, and pray baby goes back to sleep. This makes for disrupted sleep for everyone. Not fun.
So, a swaddle stifles the ability for baby to move their arms suddenly and wake themselves up. It looks confining and maybe uncomfortable, but most babies take comfort in the snug wrap. This is not the case for all babies, but most, especially when they are overtired, are calmed much quicker with swaddling. This was definitely the case with most of the times when my babies were fussing and just could not calm themselves down.
In addition to other ways available to settle babies down, and help them to stay asleep, swaddles are a great option, and there is just so much available now, how do you choose?
I’ve found they all fall within these categories (feel free to click or scroll through the categories), and have done my best to briefly talk about how they differ, as well as provide pictures and brands that would classify in the specific options.
Zip Up Swaddles
2. Arms Up
3. Arms Down
This is just the typical swaddling, and can be done with any blanket or muslin wrap that is large enough for the baby. It’s versitile, and you can wrap baby snugly with their arms up or down by their sides. Just be sure not to make it too tight, especially around the hips. Muslin wraps are generally better I’ve found to use, because the material is more breathable, and easier to manoeuvre. Always be sure to follow the safe sleeping guidelines when swaddling your baby, and place baby on their back.
Another alternative to blanke/muslin swaddling is the Gro-swaddle which has an extra bit at the bottom to make it easier to wrap Baby up snugly.
Zip Up Swaddles: These come in a large variety of brands, but I’ve found these completely lifesaving as a mother and non-expert in swaddling. They are sized by weight or height, so you get the proper size for your baby, so it is just the right snug-ness for bubby. These come in different categories which I explain below.
1. Zip up with arms free within the swaddle- Several brands have this basic style, just helping to stifle the startle reflex and keep baby snug and warm to sleep. My favourite brand within this category is the Ergobaby Cocoon. Ergo also makes the “ErgoPouch” which is a sleeping bag and swaddle in one. It has varying togs (different thicknesses for varying seasons), so great for warmer or cooler weather depending on the tog.
2. Zip up with arms up– Allowing baby to soothe themselves with their hands, the arms up version by Love to Dream is an excellent swaddle recommended by many mums (myself included). This comes in various thicknesses, and they even offer transitional swaddles. Yes, they look funny, but honestly, this was the best option for us with one of the children, as she could soothe herself and her startle reflex couldn’t wake her. (There are also other options which are more of a transitional swaddle style, but still allow for stifling of the startle reflex, which are the Zipadee-Zip and the Sleepy Hugs. I was given these to review at another opportunity after this post was written.)
3.Zip up with arms down– If your baby prefers their arms to be down when sleeping or swaddled, this is probably a great option for you. The Swaddlepod is a good version of this type of swaddle. Other brands do this, including store brands such as Kmart or Target. This is probably the most common. Just be sure to purchase that isn’t too tight around the hips.
Velcro Swaddles: These swaddles take a step out of trying to wrestle a blanket around Baby and make it just as easy as tucking arms in and securing them. Some brands thatmake these are Swaddleme and Halo sleep sack.
Some of the swaddles above have transitional options, for when you are trying to transition out of swaddles. These can be either to transition to a sleeping bag style (like the GroBag or Baby Dee Dee Sleep Nest), or just out of swaddles. I’ve reviewed two different ones here on my Winter Sleep Wear Feature (but they come in different weights for different seasons, too). These ones in particular are meant to still give the cosy feeling of a swaddle, but a bit more freedom.
The Not Quite Swaddles, but great options:
Sleepy Wings: This arms only option is good for if you just need something for bub’s arms, or something that will hold a pacifier. The pacifier easily tucks into the spots on the top bit of the swaddle wings. You can choose to put arms up or down as well. They also have other amazing options for transitional wings, or just sleeves that cover little hands.
Find Sleepy Wings here.
Sleepy Bub: There are two great options here with Sleepy Bub. A onesie that you can zip the arms down, or a sleeping bag where you can zip arms down. The hands are able to be covered as well. This is great for all the babies who seem to get out of everything else!
Find Sleepy Bub here.
Which of these options works for you? Or, do you have a baby who wasn’t keen on swaddling? I love that there are so many options out there now, to see what would work best.