It is common for new babies to resist swaddling. It can make parents think; my baby hates to be wrapped! Of course, you would probably hate to be swaddled, but adults would also hate to live in a womb for 9 months or to drink milk—as their only food—for every single meal, but babies love all of this.
Mums in cultures all around the world have swaddled their sleeping babies—arms down—for thousands of years…because it works! Remember, babies do not really need freedom—they need to feel snug and secure like they did in the womb. That is why we naturally cuddle babies snugly…and use our arms to keep them from flailing about. (We literally swaddle them with our arms!)
Here are a few tips to help your baby settle if they do not love being wrapped:
1. Swaddle very snugly…arms down: When your baby is awake, it is fine to keep the arms out (or swaddled with arms bent up), but during sleep that will lead to more startles and accidental whacks to the face—and more awaking. View our video for proper swaddling in SNOO. If your little Houdini’s arms sneak out of the inner bands or bend up at the elbow…sleep will usually fall apart.
2. Swaddle before feeding: After a feeding, there is a good chance your baby is feeling relaxed and cosy. Sometimes, swaddling your baby can stir them awake again. Try swaddling in the SNOO sack before feeding your baby. This can keep them from being stirred awake after their feeding and can also create a positive association with being swaddled.
3. Do a little calming routine. After you secure your baby in the SNOO Sack, here are a few things to help them relax and settle:
- Play a strong white noise in the background (about as loud as a shower)
- Do a feeding
- Rock and cuddle your baby (it is fine if they fall asleep in your arms) before placing them in SNOO
- Offer a dummy
- Once down, immediately boost SNOO to the purple or green level (manually or with the App). This added motion/sound often helps babies settle.
4. Lock SNOO on a higher level. Some babies find the normal blue baseline level too boring. They like it when SNOO’s level is increased, but fuss when the bed cycles back down. Try locking SNOO on the purple or green level and keeping it there all night. (It is like lulling your baby to sleep by driving them in your car all night…but safer and less polluting.)
It can be easier for a naked baby to Houdini their arms out of the swaddle. A long sleeve shirt or onesie can often help solve this problem! If that does not work, please try the suggestion below.
Follow the steps below for keeping your baby snugly swaddled!
Step 1: First, lay your baby down on a folded thin blanket or cloth nappy, with the SNOO Sack laid beneath them (unzipped).
Step 2: Then, fold one side of the blanket over your baby's arm and underneath their body.
Step 3: Repeat on the other side.
Step 4: Now, the blanket secures both of your baby’s arms down. Pull the SNOO Sack’s bands across the chest, keeping your baby's arms straight at the sides. Make sure the band is snug and down over ½ of the hands.
Step 5: Lift the bottom of the SNOO Sack up and around their feet and zip all the way to the top. Your baby is now snugly in the sack and ready to be placed in their SNOO!
Swaddling is key to good sleep, but it is just the first step of getting your baby ready to calm. Once your baby’s arms are snug and down, they can better focus on the rest of the 5 S’s (sound, motion, sucking, side/stomach).
So, while your baby may fuss at first…swaddling is super valuable for 98+% of babies, and the benefits are huge!
Happiest Baby does not provide medical advice. Please seek the advice of your healthcare provider if you have questions regarding a medical issue.