Thursday, December 15, 2011

How to Swaddle Your Baby Like a Pro Using Blankets

Working in a NICU, I swaddle A LOT of babies.

You figure this...
On average, I take care of 3 babies a shift.
We feed them and change them every 3 hours.
That's 12 swaddles a shift.
Not including if they spit up or I have to change them again.
That's 36 swaddles a week.
That's about 144 swaddles a month.
That's 1872 swaddles a year!
Whew.... that's a lot of swaddling.

When I first started, I was TERRIBLE at swaddling.
I just couldn't do it.
I didn't have any kids of my own.
I had never swaddled a baby before.
But everyone worked to teach me and I feel I'm pretty good now.
And I teach parents on a daily basis.

And today, I wanted to share the "how to" on swaddling with you guys.

First, let's cover the why of swaddling babies....
Swaddling works best in the first month of life.
Especially if your baby was premature.
It helps to make them feel secure.
In mommy's belly, they were snug and contained.
If you just lay them down, their arms and legs can go everywhere.
Swaddling gives them that comforting, secure feeling.
It also helps keep their hands near their face, which they like, without having them open.
This is especially helpful if your baby likes to scratch or something.

But remember, it's not a forever thing.
You can't swaddle your 14 year old when they start talking back.
As much as you want to :)

First, get your materials.
Baby (or baby doll if you don't have a baby-everyone meet my doll I've had since I was a baby... she's seen better days.)
Blankets- 2 preferably, but you can work with 1 (the hospital blankets or receiving blankets work best... not too big... or in my case, scrap fabric since I don't have any small blankets)

Now some blankets are square, but the blankets may be rectangular.
That's fine, I'll show you how to work with rectangular blankets.
Turn down one corner of the blanket, as shown.
You want it turned down enough to where your babies hands can comfortably tuck inside without wiggling out.

You should now have an almost diamond shape, with 3 corners.
You have the bottom corner and 2 side corners.
If your blanket is rectangular, one of your sides will be smaller than the other (this is fine).

Gently lay your baby centered over the folded edge.
Their neck should be even with the line.

Next, carefully tuck one hand under the folded corner.
If you're using a rectangular blanket, always start with the short side first.

Here's what I'm talking about with the short side for rectangle blankets:
See how the left side is smaller than the right?

Ok got the arm tucked in?
Now carefully bring that corner (the short corner) across the baby and tuck into their opposite side.
Their hand should tuck in up towards their face.
You want them snug, not smothered.
Snug enough that they can't wiggle out but not so tight they can't breathe!

Alright, got them snug?
Now bring that bottom corner up and tuck it into that same side the corner is tucked into.
Make sure their feet get covered and tucked in.

Ok, now repeat with that other hand, tucking it snugly under the folded edge.

Now bring that final side corner across the baby, making sure the hand is near the face, all the way around.
You'll probably need to pick the baby up for this part.
Now doesn't she look so much more content already?

Now take another blanket and fold it hamburger style if you have a smaller baby and then fold the folded edge down a little more so it's a good length for the baby.
Wrap if carefully around the baby.
If your baby is bigger, you may want to fold it hotdog style so you have more to wrap around them

Swaddling makes it so much easier to hold your baby!
I suggest this method...

Change their diaper first.
Then swaddle.
Then feed.

This way, when the fall asleep, you don't have to wake them up to change them or anything.
Just lay them down to sleep.
Unless they dirtied themselves while eating.
It's something about a clean diaper that makes them want to dirty it up.

Anyways.... remember....

ALWAYS lay your baby on his/her back or side (NO TUMMIES) to prevent SIDS.

But when your baby is awake, be sure to give them "tummy time".
Let them lay on their bellies while awake and SUPERVISE them.
This allows them to start building those muscles to pick up their head and crawl.

Ok I hope this tutorial can help someone wanting to swaddle their baby!


Amanda said...

I never learnt how to swaddle our twins, but I know the nurses did it when Ethan was in PICU, some of his happiest photos from that time is when he was all swaddled. I'm sure he tries to do it now, he's not content until totally wrapped up tight!

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