“Hey babe, do you think the baby is ok? She’s wrapped up kind of tight?”
“Yeah, she’s fine. Is she crying?”
“That’s because I swaddled her up tighter than a double meat quesorito with guac at Chipotle. …guac is an extra two…”
” I KNOW GUAC IS AN EXTRA TWO DOLLARS!”
And that’s how quickly you can get back to living life once you’ve mastered your swaddling skills. As a new dad, the swaddle is one of your primary defenses against a crying baby. It’s one of my “binky” techniques I used to soothe Emma when she would freak out for no apparent reason. She’s too big to be swaddled now, but for the first two and half/three months after she was born she would need to be swaddled up to fall asleep.
I guess the reason it works is because restricting their range of motion reminds them of being back in the confines of the womb. That makes sense; the first three months of a baby’s life have been referred to as the “fourth trimester” …since babies are utterly incapable of survival without parents, a wolf pack, or gorilla to adopt them and raise them to be the hero of the jungle, so feeling like they’re back in the womb must be a comfort to them.
Kelly and I learned the proper technique for swaddling in our baby making classes, though there has been some debate, I’m told, as to how tight to actually bind your child into submission. I’ll go over the general maneuver, you decide how safe you want to be. I suggest taking a class or talking to your pediatrician about what they consider to be “correct.” If you break your kid it’s not on me.
So you start with a large square cloth, that’s the swaddle. They come in a range of styles and patterns. I recommend something basic,, but one with a bit of texture in the weave, though. That’s going to come in handy when your kid tries to struggle free from your loving embrace. They’ll squirm, they’ll fidget, and ultimately they’ll tucker themselves out when that texture starts to stick to itself like velcro. Texture.
First, lay out your square nice and flat so it’s rotated 45° (like a diamond.) Then fold down the top corner. How much you fold over depends on how big your swaddle and your baby are. Above this little fold is where your baby’s head rests when the mummification soothing begins.
Second, once you have your baby in place, wrap one side over and behind your kiddo. I found that rolling Emma on to her side allowed me to really tuck that sucker behind her. Lock it in good because babies will pull some David Blaine Houdini crap on you as soon as you turn your back. I’ve had many a night ruined by a weak and lazy swaddle.
Ok, step three, gently roll baby back so they’re flat again. Now take the bottom corner and fold it up over and behind the opposite shoulder of the first fold. I’ve found this fold to be the weakest point in my swaddle. You need to make sure you have enough material to tuck behind them so they don’t kick it all loose.
Finally, wrap the fourth and final corner over and around baby then tuck it up under itself on the topside.
That’s it. Easy, right? Maybe for you but it took me two weeks to master. I clearly remember the night I got it- it was out of pure frustration. During the midst of a screaming fit I had decided that tighter was better and I was going to wrap up my little chunky monkey like a pig in a blanket. Which, I might add, was nowhere near as tight as the nurses had her swaddled when she was born. Unwrapping that first clinically applied swaddle was like unboxing a new iPad that craps on you. The packaging was immaculate!
Over time, we developed various styles of swaddle to accommodate Emma’s growth and arm movements. She got to a point where if her arms were confined she took it out on us like we owed her money. So we employed the toga swaddle and the mermaid swaddle. These seemed to work; as long as her legs were bound but her arms were free she would stay calm.
We tried other products that make swaddling easier. Like this big velcro swaddle sac. Emma, true to her nature, hated it, like she hates anything that simplifies parenting for us. Also, the first time we washed it the Velcro stuck to all her trifolds and clothes. It tangled up everything, ruining my life.
On a final note, we were told to stop swaddling when baby starts to roll over because it poses a suffocation risk. We stopped before that because Emma just sort of outgrew it and as soon as I can start cutting steps out of my routine, dammit I’m going to.
I hope this helps. Swaddling is your friend- learn it. Use it. Happy parenting!
If you have any advice or tips that your want to offer feel free to leave a comment down below or on our Facebook page.