baby; sleep; wrap; wrapping; babies; swaddle; swaddling;
Some parents choose to wrap their babies when they put them down for sleep. Wrapping can help babies to develop a more settled sleep pattern. Other parents find that wrapping is not helpful. Whether you choose to wrap or not is your choice.
The information and pictures in this topic show a safe and simple way to wrap babies.
You may need to seek advice from your Child and Family Health Service.
Some benefits of wrapping
- Wrapping can help babies develop a more settled sleep pattern.
- Wrapping helps to prevent random arm movements which can disturb a baby’s sleep.
- Babies whose sleep is disturbed by colic or reflux may be more settled when wrapped.
- Babies with stiff or floppy limbs may benefit from being wrapped. Talk with your physiotherapist or child health nurse.
- Wrapping needs to allow babies to breathe easily (adequate chest expansion) and allow their legs to bend at the hips. For normal hip joint development legs need to be bent at the hips with knees apart. Avoid wrapping legs straight.
- The recommended fabrics are muslin or a light cotton wrap.
- Bunny rugs and blankets are not as safe because they may cause overheating.
- Babies must not be overdressed under the wrap. Dress them in a singlet and nappy in warm weather, or a light grow suit in cool weather.
How to wrap
This is one method for safe wrapping.
In most cases the key to successful wrapping and settling lies with holding your baby's arms firmly. This will give your baby the cue to settle. Some babies settle best when their arms are held with their hands near their face so that they can suck on them to comfort themselves.
Spread the wrap so that you can place the baby's head at the top of the long side of the wrap, or if the wrap is square, fold one corner of the wrap towards the centre.
- Place baby on the wrap at shoulder level. Ensure the wrap does not cover the baby's face.
- Bring arms together on upper chest. Make sure baby has enough room to breathe easily.
- Bring one side over both arms and tuck under your baby.
- Bring the other side over arms and then tuck under body.
- Fold the end of the wrap and place it to the side so that both legs remain bent up.
- Place baby with feet at the end of the cot.
When to wrap
Whether to wrap depends on whether it helps your baby, not how old the baby is. Some babies find it stressful while others find it comforting to be held by a wrap for many months. Some babies do better if they have their arms out, others like their arms wrapped in. Do what helps your baby to feel safe and relaxed and comforted.
Once your baby is rolling from back to stomach and back again stop wrapping and change to a safe sleeping bag.
- Place babies on their back to sleep.
- Make sure your baby’s face is not covered.
- Cigarette smoke is bad for babies.
- Make sure that your baby’s cot or bassinette is safe. The mattress needs to be well fitted.
- Place your baby with feet at the end of the cot.
- The cot should be free of toys and bumpers.
See the topics Sudden unexpected deaths in infancy (including SIDS) and Safe sleep for babies and toddlers for more information.
- Child and Family Health - call 1300 733 606 for an appointment (Monday to Friday 9am to 4.30pm)
- Parent Helpline - telephone 1300 364 100.
- Contact SIDS & KIDS on 1300 308 307 for more information about safe sleeping. http://www.sidsandkids.org/
This information has been produced by
Women's and Children's Hospital and SIDS & KIDS,
The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Parent Helpline on 1300 364 100 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).
This topic may use 'he' and 'she' in turn - please change to suit your child's sex.