Search
  • Gina Mydlo, PT, DPT

How to Swaddle Safely and Choose a Store-bought Swaddle


Many parents choose to use store-bought swaddles to wrap their precious baby for sleep. Picking out a swaddle seems like an easy enough task - right?!


Have you SEEN the swaddle blanket aisle at the store? There are so many different kinds! And it seems like every time I turn around, there's a new one out on the market! (If you haven't downloaded our FREE guide, do it now to get more expert information on swaddles and tons of other baby gear).


One of the most important factors when picking out a swaddle is to make sure that the swaddle promotes a HIP HEALTHY position. What does this mean?

When babies are born, the cartilage in their hip socket is not completely formed. It takes appropriate positioning and alignment of the leg bone in the hip joint to form the cartilage to keep the hip joint stable. If the positioning of the leg bone in the hip socket is not ideal for an extended length of time, then the baby is at risk of developing hip dysplasia, or hip dislocation.


Some babies are born with congenital hip dysplasia or hip dislocation. But babies who are positioned improperly in swaddles or carriers may also be at risk.


What's the best position for baby's hips?

We want babies to be able to bend their hips fully, spread their hips wide, and rotate their hips freely.


Figure 1. Effect of Tight Swaddling the Soft Hips of Newborns. (Keri Caffrey, Inc., 2018).


What position do we want to avoid?

We want to avoid putting baby's hips in a locked, straight, narrowed position.


Figure 2. Effect of Tight Swaddling the Soft Hips of Newborns. (Keri Caffrey, Inc., 2018).


So how does that all factor in to picking out a swaddle? Well, you need to make sure that whatever swaddle you choose has PLENTY of room from baby's hips downward for baby to move his legs freely.


Let's talk about a few of my favorite swaddles. I'll tell you why I like them and when they may be appropriate to use on your baby.


I'm going to break these down into two categories: Velcro swaddles, and Non-Velcro swaddles.


Velcro swaddles


SwaddleMe® Original Swaddle


About: You place baby in this sack that only covers the legs, then you wrap the velcro wings around baby's arms to swaddle.


Pros: These are hip healthy, and allow plenty of room for baby's legs to move freely. It is pretty easy to use. The lightweight fabric is nice to prevent overheating.


Cons: I have found that the velcro tabs are not enough to hold it in place, especially after a few washes. It is possible to overtighten since it is a velcro swaddle. Also, I find baby can break out of this more easily than others.


When to use: I find these work best with newborns or very small or young infants. Baby tends to grow out of this type of swaddle quickly.



HALO® SleepSack® Swaddles


About: You first place baby in the zippered sack that goes up above the shoulders. Then, you cross the velcro wings over baby's arm to swaddle.


Pros: These are hip healthy, and allow plenty of room for baby's hips to move freely. These are easy to use. The velcro appears to stick better and last longer than other velcro swaddles. They have multiple fabric options for winter and summer months.


Cons: Since it is velcro, you need to be cautious not to overtighten the velcro. And you need to make sure you are using the correct size. If you use too big of a swaddle sack on baby, the velcro will cross the hip joint, so when you go to tighten the velcro, it will tighten across the hips.


When to use: These come in a variety of different sizes, so they are a great choice for a newborn or older infant. (We will talk later about when it is appropriate to transition baby from a swaddle).



Non-Velcro Swaddles


Woombie®


About: This is a zippered swaddle blanket. You place baby in it, then zip it up - it's that easy!


Pros: This is my favorite swaddle blanket, so in my opinion it has a lot of pros!

  • It is so easy to use, any caregiver can do it.

  • It is hip healthy, and allows for free movement of the hips.

  • Since there is no velcro, baby's arms are able to move freely within the confines of the sack, allowing baby to find a more natural sleeping position.

  • There is no chance of baby "escaping", or getting his hands out of the sack.

  • It has double zippers to allow for easy nighttime diaper changes without getting baby completely out of the sack.

  • It is available in many options, including a convertible option that allows you to unzip an arm hole when you want to transition baby from a swaddled position.

Cons: Honestly, I can't think of any. I love it that much.


When to use: These come in a variety of sizes, so you can start your newborn off in it right away and can use it until they graduate to a sleep sack.


***SwaddleMe® also makes a similar swaddle called the SwaddleMe® Pod. I have not tried it so I don't want to review it. While the SwaddleMe® Pod appears to allow for free movement at the hips, the fabric does look narrower at the hips than the Woombie®, which makes me lean more toward using the Woombie® for extra hip wiggle room.



Swaddle UP


About: This is also a zippered swaddle blanket, and it is tailored to keep the arms up at chest level, and out to the side with hands above shoulders.


Pros: Since it is a zippered sack, it is easy to use for any caregiver. It has a double zipper for easy nighttime diaper changes. It is hip healthy, allowing for plenty of free movement of the hips. There are also transitional sacks that you can unzip the arm holes to transition baby away from being swaddled.


Cons: While some babies respond well to sleeping with arms in this position, not all babies find this to be a comfortable or natural position for sleep. Bringing hands to midline (both hands to the center of the body) can be very calming for babies, and this sack does not easily allow for that position.


When to use: These swaddles come in three sizes, so would be appropriate from newborn to the age at which you would transition to a sleep sack.



Figure 3. SwaddleUP Original.



I am aware that this by no means is an exhausted list of swaddles! There are many more out there. But these are the ones you will typically see in store, and other swaddles may be very similar to these.


Main takeaway - MAKE SURE IT IS HIP HEALTHY!


For a list of Hip-Healthy swaddles and carriers backed by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute, go to:

Hip Health Products


For a video on how to swaddle safely using just a blanket, go to:

Hip Healthy Swaddling




Are swaddles just for sleeping?


When most of you hear 'swaddle', you immediately think 'sleep'. But have you ever considered the need to swaddle your newborn for feedings? While it is certainly not necessary or recommended for every baby (baby pushes on mom's breast while nursing for a reason), it CAN be used as a technique to help calm baby to be organized enough to feed, as well as support her body so that she can latch more efficiently.


Learn more on how to support your infant's feeding and sleeping development, and if swaddling for feeds is right for your infant in our online course, Baby's Best Start.


Parent confidently,

Gina Mydlo, PT, DPT




References:

1. Caffrey, K. [animation] International Hip Dysplasia Institute. (2018). Effect of Tight Swaddling The Soft Hips of Newborns. Retrieved

February 24th, 2020 from https://hipdysplasia.org/developmental-dysplasia-of-the-hip/hip-healthy-swaddling/

2. Caffrey, K. [animation] International Hip Dysplasia Institute. (2018). Effect of Tight Swaddling The Soft Hips of Newborns. Retrieved

February 24th, 2020 from https://hipdysplasia.org/developmental-dysplasia-of-the-hip/hip-healthy-swaddling/

3. SWADDLE up™ original 1.0 TOG Gray. (n.d.). Retrieved March 14, 2021, from https://lovetodream.com/swaddle-up-original-1-0-tog-gray/

85 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All