Dad 101: How to wrap a baby

Some practical tips for new dads on how to wrap their bubs.

Swaddling, or wrapping, a newborn baby can help keep them warm and toasty and can also help settle them and get them to go to sleep. Wrapping a baby also helps keep them on their back, which is very important to help reduce the risk of SIDS.

Apparently babies can ‘startle’ themselves awake with their own arms. This is one of the most confounding and amusing things I have ever discovered about babies, so wrapping them up can also help stop them from waking themselves up. 

You can wrap your baby from birth till about four - six months, when they are able to roll onto their tummy. 

There are a few different takes on how you should secure your child in preparation for sleep, but one simple option takes its cues from how you might wrap a burrito.

The ‘burrito wrap’

For this technique you:
1.  Take a baby wrap (large lightweight cotton or muslin) and lay it flat. 
2.  Then turn down the top of the wrap by about 20cm in length. 
3.  When you have done this,  take your little soon-to-be-bundle and put them in the centre of the wrap, with their head above the fold of the wrap.  Then tuck each arm under the fold, like a little pair of wings. 
4.  Then take each wing and gently fold it across the baby’s body. Tuck the wrap under the baby’s body and legs. 
5.  You can fold any extra length up and under the baby’s legs too. But leave enough length so that the baby can still stretch out their legs. 
6.  Make sure you don’t wrap them too tightly.
baby in sleeping bag

Plan B – use an infant sleeping bag

Wrapping a baby can be tricky, especially as they may squirm and worm making it a bit more difficult.  

Our firstborn was the Harry Houdini of baby wraps and would lay there and grunt and fight and work his way out of the most intricately folded wrap. Our second child was far more compliant and almost seemed to welcome the wrapping process at the end of a long day of rolling around and drinking milk - he wrapped easily and without fuss. 

Not all babies like to be wrapped up, so in this case, try a fitted infant sleeping bag with armholes or sleeves (but no hood) instead. The padded sleeping bag can be used instead of blankets to keep baby warm, and will also help to keep them sleeping on their backs. Choose a sleeping bag that is the right size for your baby, and is appropriate for the season to prevent overheating.

Careful of the temperature

Wrapping is done to protect your child, but there are a few things to be aware of, the most important of which is to make sure your child is not too hot or cold. With wrapping, overheating is the biggest worry. So in warm weather make sure your baby just has a simple singlet and nappy on under the muslin wrap, or is sleeping in a lightweight sleeping bag. 

In cooler weather they can rock a onesie, but no matter how cool it gets make sure that you never cover your baby’s head, ears or chin. Wraps that are too tight around the head can restrict breathing.
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