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Swaddling your baby

6-minute read

Key Facts

  • Swaddling, when done correctly, can be a useful way to help your baby settle and sleep on their back during the early months.
  • Stop swaddling or wrapping your baby as soon as they show signs of attempting to roll onto their tummy.
  • A safe infant sleeping bag is an alternative to swaddling your baby. It can also be used once your baby is rolling onto their tummy.
  • Always follow safe sleep recommendations.

What are the benefits of swaddling my baby?

Swaddling (wrapping a baby in a lightweight cloth to their shoulders) can help to calm a baby. It is thought that swaddling helps to recreate the restricted space of the uterus, helping a baby to settle into sleep.

Some studies have shown that swaddled babies wake less frequently and sleep longer than non-swaddled babies.

There is limited evidence that wrapping babies helps to protect against sudden unexpected deaths in infancy. However, there is no evidence that it is harmful if you wrap your baby safely.

When should I swaddle my baby?

Swaddling is for very young babies — from birth to when they begin to show signs that they can roll over (usually 4 to 6 months old but sometimes younger).

When should I not swaddle my baby?

It’s recommended that you stop swaddling your baby once they can roll onto their tummy or if your baby does not seem to like it.

If your baby doesn’t like to be wrapped or if they can roll onto their tummy, you may prefer to use a safe infant sleeping bag. A safe infant sleeping bag is fitted to your baby’s size. These sleeping bags have different thicknesses or warmth ratings (this is referred to as the TOG rating).

Babies should not be wrapped while sleeping in a baby sleeping bag.

Do not swaddle your baby if they share a sleep surface with another person.

How do I swaddle my baby?

  • Use a lightweight cotton or muslin wrap to swaddle your baby. Rugs and blankets are not safe for swaddling since they may cause overheating.
  • Prevent overheating by making sure your baby is not overdressed under the wrap. If the weather is warm, your baby may only need a singlet and nappy. In cooler weather, your baby may need a lightweight jumpsuit.
  • Newborn babies are usually swaddled with their arms folded across their chest. Once their startle reflex is gone (usually around 3 months), leave your baby’s arms free so they can self-soothe.
  • Ensure that your baby is on their back with their feet at the bottom of the cot. Do not cover your baby’s head or their face. This is to stop the wrap from blocking their breathing and overheating them.
  • For effective swaddling, the wrap must be firm but not too tight. It should allow your baby’s chest to rise normally during breathing.
  • The wrap should not be too tight around your baby’s hips and legs. Tight wrapping with the legs held straight can lead to hip problems such as hip dysplasia or dislocation. If swaddled correctly, your baby’s legs should be able to bend at the hips with the knees apart.

How to swaddle

Step by step guide on how to swaddle your newborn.

Swaddling (wrapping) a newborn - video

Video provided by Raising Children Network.


  • Stop wrapping your baby as soon as they start showing signs that they can begin to roll.

  • Never use swaddles or wraps that have velcro or zips that restrain a baby’s arms.

  • Do not wrap your baby higher than their shoulders. Your baby’s face and head must NOT be covered.

Safe sleeping recommendations

It's recommended to do the following things to help ensure your baby sleeps safely.

  • Always place your baby on their back to sleep. Never put them on their tummy or side.
  • Keep your baby’s face and head uncovered.
  • Keep your baby’s environment smoke free before and after birth.
  • Make sure your baby has a safe sleeping environment night and day.
  • Sleep your baby in their own safe sleep space in your or a caregiver’s room for the first 6 months.
  • Breastfeed your baby if you can.

Resources and support

Read more about safe sleep for babies. For support or advice, speak to your child and family health nurse, or call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436.

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: February 2023

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Need more information?

Wrapping or Swaddling Babies | Red Nose Australia

Read more on Red Nose website

Is it Safe to Wrap or Swaddle My Baby? | Red Nose Australia

Read more on Red Nose website

How to swaddle your baby

Swaddling can help calm a baby and while it is fairly easy to do, there are a few rules to follow for your baby’s safety.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Wrapping your Baby

The reflexes of newborn babies often startle them easily and tend to wake them during sleep. Many parents have found that wrapping babies until they’re three to four months old (the time when these reflexes begin to disappear) helps reduce strong startle reactions and improves sleep.

Read more on Karitane website

How to wrap a baby | Raising Children Network

See how to wrap a baby in this video. Wrapping can reduce SUDI and SIDS risk by keeping babies on their backs during sleep. It can also soothe babies.

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How to wrap a baby: illustrated guide | Raising Children Network

See how to wrap a baby in our illustrated, step-by-step guide. Wrapping can soothe some babies. It also reduces SUDI and SIDS risks. View, print or download.

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How to wrap your baby | Sleep and Settling Technique - YouTube

Sleep and settling is the number one topic we are asked about at Karitane. Often it can be the reflexes of newborn babies that startle them to wake. As a hel...

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Dummy independence: helping babies learn | Raising Children Network

Dummy independence is when babies can put in dummies by themselves. It helps if they use a dummy to settle. You can help babies learn dummy independence.

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Cutting baby nails & baby nail care | Raising Children Network

Cutting baby nails is important, because short nails mean babies can’t scratch themselves. It can help to cut baby nails when baby is calm, drowsy or asleep.

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Baby Sleep | Tresillian

Need help with a crying baby who is not settling? Here you’ll find Tresillian’s top baby tips and advice on how to help your baby sleep.

Read more on Tresillian website

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

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