Swaddling your baby
- 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?
Swaddling (wrapping) a newborn - video
Video provided by Raising Children Network.
- 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.
- 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.
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Last reviewed: February 2023