Tuesday, October 09, 2007

How to Double-Swaddle a Baby

It's time for a trip back in time. We're going to go back, ladies and gentlemen. Way way back. Back to the days when this was how Oliver slept.

That's right. It's time to revisit the popular topic of double-swaddling.

I'll confess - I learned about the magical art of the double swaddle through a parenting class. I've never seen it described in any book. It seems like one of those secrets that's been passed down from mother to daughter (because, until recently, most fathers just never got that involved) for generations. I learned about it when Oliver was wiggling and wriggling around for his naps, and the customary swaddling technique just wasn't cutting it. Someone in the parenting class suggested double-swaddling him.

I said - and I remember this distinctly - "Hunh?"

She proceeded to take her own little ball of squiggleness and demonstrate the technique, bundling her kiddo up into a perfect knot of swaddle. It was astonishing. She was wrapped up tight as a mummy and looked happy to be there. After a little practice and trial-and-error, I got down my own technique, which I will demonstrate for you right here and now.

Let's begin with the basics. You need two blankets. You'll want large blankets because you're going to be wrapping both of them around your baby. Don't skimp on length. (See the end of this post for my personal recommendation.)

Lay the first one down in a diamond shape, like this. Fold the top corner down.

Lay a second blanket down over the first one, and fold the top corner down in the same way.

(Pay attention to how far you fold these corners down. If you've got a little kiddo, you can fold these down a fair amount. The bigger your kiddo, the smaller you want this fold to be because it affects the length of blanket remaining.)

At this point, I should introduce our stand-in baby, Winnie T. Pooh. (Oliver's entirely too old to be swaddled these days.)

Take your baby and place him/her on top of the blankets, right at the top. The shoulders should be just about level with the top of your blankets, as shown here. Fold one side of the first blanket down over your baby's arm - and here's the important part! - tuck it under your baby's body. (I found it helpful to rock Oliver to one side gently while I tucked the blanket under him.) Make it snug.

Then fold the other side over your baby's other arm (the order doesn't really matter - here, Pooh gets the left arm swaddled first and then the right arm). Don't forget to tuck the blanket down and under the body, also. Make sure it's snug on both sides.

Notice now that baby can't move their arms! Here's why this method is sheer genius: your baby's own weight is what keeps their arms from getting loose. (Snicker snicker.)

Pull the remaining blanket up under baby's legs, so it sits loosely over the diaper area and maybe on top of his/her tummy. (Don't worry: unless your baby is ten inches long, like Pooh, you won't have this much material remaining.)

You have now secured your baby's arms nice and tight. Use the second blanket to swaddle your baby in the usual way. You can also use one of those Miracle blanket deelyboppers, provided it wraps around the first blanket. Make sure you swaddle your baby nice and tight.

Presto - it's a double-swaddled baby!

The arms are being held tight by the first blanket. The second blanket holds the first one in place and also holds the legs in place. Your baby should now look like it's in a soft cotton cocoon.

Now let's see what a real baby looks like in a real double-swaddle.

See? Snug as a bug!

(Pardon me for a moment. I just got all misty-eyed seeing little Oliver like that. I miss those days.)

This lasted us well into Oliver's second year, when he just plain outgrew swaddling altogether. You'll know when it's time - Oliver started wrestling his way out of both blankets when it was time to give it up. But it took a long long time to get there.

Now let's talk blankets. We got the best swaddle blankets imaginable from the Birth and Beyond store in Seattle - you can order them online here. The blankets are large (42 x 42), thin, and soft as any blanket you will find anywhere.

Email me with any corrections, tips, or thoughts. One last tip: practice on your baby while they're awake. They'll think it's hilarious. Have fun bundling your baby!


richgold said...

Accurate, and well illustrated. Are you sure you're not a Technical Writer-in-hiding? ;-)

Anonymous said...

You should patent this idea! lol! I'm using it tonight!!

Sky Bluesky said...

Heh. I just borrowed the idea from my parenting group. I just took the pictures and mapped it out.

I'm so glad it's still helping people. My life changed when I figured out how to double-swaddle our little guy.

Anonymous said...

I love you! Lol. Thank you so much for explaining that. My son is 2 mths old and is always getting his arms loose, pissing him off that he wakes himself up, now i know how to fix that, thanks so much!!

Sky Bluesky said...

Glad I could help. Swaddling really is the magic secret to getting your kid to sleep during their first year. good luck!

Anonymous said...

A friend sent me this link and i am so so grateful. Ive bought 2 different wraps lately that are completely useless on my 4 month old who wakes herself up once she can wangle her hands to her mouth. Ive done a tester today so hopefully my problems are over tonight.Thankyou so much

Anonymous said...

I saw this a while back when I was looking for the best way to swaddle my newborn. I'm SO glad I came accross it. He is already fighting sleep (at a month old!) and it is impossible to keep him in a regular swaddle anymore. Now he'll sleep more than 20 minutes at a time which makes me very happy :)

Sharon Wahn said...

I know this is an old blog post but I wanted to ask about the double swaddle and rolling. You said Oliver was swaddled til his second year. Did he not roll back to front or was this just not a concern? Thanks.

Sharon Wahn said...

I know this is an old blog post but I wanted to ask about the double swaddle and rolling. You said Oliver was swaddled til his second year. Did he not roll back to front or was this just not a concern? Thanks.

Charlers John said...

Thanks i like your blog very much , i come back most days to find new posts like this! Good effort. I learnt it
swaddle blankets

lauren ponygirl said...

8w is the recommended time to stop swaddling as they can begin to roll on their tummys but not back to their back