How Many Swaddles Do You Really Need?

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How many swaddles you need for your baby is entirely subject to your lifestyle. For example, most studies would suggest that the best number of swaddles is 6, however knowing how messy babies can be, most parents would agree that the best number of swaddles is 12-15.

When you become a parent, the world you knew suddenly becomes a million times bigger. You have to learn everything there is to know about raising a baby from what foods to give them, to what kind of clothes you need.

It seems that no matter how prepared you are, there is bound to be something you have forgotten to ask. So, if you’re here, that question seems to be about how many swaddles your baby needs, and we have done all the research, so you don’t have to.

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What is a Swaddle?

A swaddle is a type of thin blanket that can be wrapped around newborns in order to stop them from wriggling so much, thus aiding their sleep so they don’t wake themselves up with the Moro or startle reflex.

The swaddle imitates the sensation of being in the womb, allowing babies to feel warm and safe, thus helping them to sleep uninterrupted.

Is Swaddling a New Technique?

Some of you may think that swaddling is a brand-new technique, but that isn’t the case. It is actually an ancient practice that has spanned the globe, used in hundreds of civilizations over the centuries. It appears to be an innate human behavior to swaddle our babies, soothing them into a long sleep.

Why Should I Swaddle My Baby?

Swaddling has been proved to have multiple benefits for your baby. For example:

  • Can be used to keep a new-born’s arms wrapped over their chest thus preventing the startle reflex so they sleep uninterrupted.
  • Can comfort and calm newborns by reminding them of being in the womb.
  • Keeps babies warm while they sleep.
  • Helps keep babies on their backs while they sleep, greatly reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), otherwise known as cot death.
  • Swaddles can be used to sooth babies with colic.
  • Greatly reduce the risk of suffocation in newborns by removing the need for a loose blanket.
  • Since swaddled babies sleep for longer, you will also be able to get the rest you need as their parent / guardian.

How Many Weeks Should You Swaddle a Baby?

Swaddling your baby can be introduced from when your baby is a newborn. Once they show signs that they can roll over, you should stop swaddling them., this can be as early as 8 weeks,

Types of Swaddles

Before you find out how many swaddles you need, first you need to know the differences between swaddle blankets (sometimes referred to as traditional swaddles) and swaddle sacks, which each have their own uses.

Swaddle Blankets – Just as the name suggests, the traditional swaddle has existed for hundreds of years. It is a regular thin square blanket that can be wrapped around the baby to make it a swaddle. Parents that prefer to use the traditional swaddle generally use these during the daytime, opting for the swaddle sacks during the night.

The reason that some parents prefer the traditional swaddle over the easier-to-use swaddle sack is because once the baby has outgrown the need for a swaddle, the traditional swaddle can be re-used as a blanket or a burp cloth.

Swaddle Sacks – Unlike the traditional swaddle, swaddle sacks can only be used as a swaddle. Swaddle sacks come in the desired shape of a swaddle, usually with Velcro straps, zips, or snaps that secure the baby, thus making them easier to use. The swaddle sack is made of a light breathable material so the baby doesn’t overheat. These swaddles are more likely to stay in place, so the baby can have a long sleep. Swaddle sacks are usually adjustable, so they can continue to fit your baby as they grow.

What is a Muslin Blanket

Muslin is a woven breathable fabric that is smooth in texture and can be used to swaddle your baby. Muslin blankets tend to be larger than receiving blankets and usually made from cotton or bamboo.

The breathable and light fabric make it perfect to swaddle your baby.

Can All Babies Be Swaddled?

Swaddling is a fantastic practice, and it can be recommended for almost every baby, however as with everything, there are a few exceptions to this rule. Some babies may suffer with ailments such as hip dysplasia or brittle bone disease.

In cases such as this, swaddling may further aggravate the injuries. Should your baby suffer from any unusual joint or bone problems, you should contact a pediatrician to see if swaddling is suitable for them.

It should also be noted that although most babies are comfortable in swaddles, some do prefer to keep their arms free while wrapped up. If this is the case, you simply have to readjust the swaddle to keep their arms outside of it.

How Long Should I Swaddle My Baby?

Most parents and doctors will recommend that you stop swaddling your baby as soon as they start actively trying to turn over by themselves; babies usually begin doing this between 4-6 months of age.

However, the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends that you stop swaddling your baby when they reach two months old.

Either way, you should not swaddle longer than six months old at most, as it could cause your baby certain developmental issues if continued past then.

Receiving Blanket vs Swaddle Blanket?

Traditional swaddles seem almost identical to receiving blankets and they do have a lot of similarities. Both are thin, light-weight squares of material, so what is the difference?

There are a few minor differences like the fact that a blanket can be used as a bed or crib sheet, and a swaddle is slightly smaller. Yet, the main difference is that the receiving blanket is just that, whereas modern swaddles can come with zips, Velcro straps, pockets, etc.

If in doubt, then just remember that all receiving blankets can be used as swaddles, but not all swaddles can be used as receiving blankets. Ultimately, the differences between the two don’t really matter.

Safety Precautions When Swaddling Babies

As with everything where babies are concerned, there are a few precautions to take note of.

  • Each new swaddle should be washed before its first use. This will remove any residual scent from the manufacturer that may have been left on the swaddle.
  • You shouldn’t double wrap your swaddle. Doing so can cause your baby to overheat, making the experience unpleasant for them. If you have concerns over the temperature, dress your baby in warmer clothes instead. A swaddle should be nice and breathable for your baby.
  • When wrapping the swaddle, place your baby’s hands over their chest instead of at their sides; this will prevent any mobility or joint pains that may occur if their hands are at their sides.
  • As soon as your baby starts rolling over on their own, it is time to stop swaddling. This can happen for your baby anywhere between 3-6 months old. When this happens, it is time to let your baby sleep with their arms free, and usually with a light blanket instead of a swaddle.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Should I keep my baby’s arms in or out of the swaddle?

This is entirely a matter of your baby’s preference. Allow your baby to experience both methods, and find out which way they sleep best.

Will swaddling cause my baby to overheat?

By itself, swaddling will not cause your baby to overheat, since the fabric is designed to be lightweight and breathable. However, should you combine it with warm clothes and an extra blanket or two, then you may have a problem. Just make sure to check the surrounding temperature and be mindful of how many layers you wrap your baby in.

Should my baby be swaddled whilst feeding?

Most babies have a tendency to fall asleep while feeding, and swaddling only increases their chances of that. To make sure they are getting all the nourishment they need, you should avoid swaddling them while they are feeding.

Is it a problem if I cannot wrap my baby in the traditional swaddle?

Not at all. Traditional swaddles can be hard for some parents to master. If that’s the case, you can always opt for the sack swaddle instead.

Can a swaddle be too tight?

Swaddles are rarely too tight for babies, but if you have concerns that yours is, simply slip two fingers between the swaddle and the baby’s chest. If your fingers can fit beneath the swaddle, then it isn’t too tight for your baby.

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How Many Swaddles Do I Need?

Now that we have all of the basic information, it is time to answer the question that you came here for. Most scientific research suggests that you will need 3-6 swaddles minimum for your baby. With six, you will have two available for your baby to wear during the week, two for the wash, and two extra just in case there are any mishaps.

Since almost half of young babies have a tendency to spit up due to infant gastroesophageal reflux, most parents prefer to own more than six swaddles, but that is entirely a matter of preference.

That being said, some parents with particularly messy babies, or those who do not tend to do the laundry as often have suggested that you should own up to 12 swaddles instead.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, it seems that most parents agree that six swaddles are a good number to start with. You can then add to your collection as you learn how messy your baby is, and how your laundry habits effect your supply.

Generally, it is recommended that you have an even mix of traditional swaddles and swaddle sacks, but it all depends on your own personal preference.