If you've ever swaddled a baby, you know it's no easy task. Between sheer exhaustion, worry that you're doing it wrong and a charge that may or may not be screaming in your face as you try, swaddling is a skill. Luckily, the rewards are many.

What is swaddling?

The transition from womb to world is undoubtedly, well, a lot. There's light, sound, smell, but also a newfound ability to move about. After all, the previous habitat didn't allow for much movement (despite the feeling they could literally punch your throat and bladder at the same time). For some babies, that freedom can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. By wrapping them up snug with their arms and legs tucked into a swaddle, you can mimic that feeling of being safe inside mama.

Swaddling also helps reduce the moro reflex–the adorable but somewhat heartbreaking startles–which can wake them up from a sound sleep for no apparent reason in those early weeks and months. And since blankets aren't an option for the first year, swaddles can safely keep them warm and comfortable.

Related: A baby swaddle saved my motherhood

When can you swaddle a baby?

According to Rachel Mitchell, Certified Sleep Specialist and founder of My Sweet Sleeper, the age-old practice "is meant to be used in the newborn stage, but as soon as babies start rolling over (between 10-12 weeks or so), it is important that parents stop swaddling for safety reasons." Also, not all babies love to be swaddled. In those cases, Mitchell suggests using a style that allows little ones to raise their arms or opt instead for a sleep sack designed for newborns.

If your little Houdini starts breaking out regularly, you may want to try a velcro style swaddle.

Related: 9 products the mamas of Motherly swear by to help baby sleep

What should you look for when choosing a swaddle?

With all the styles on the market, it may take a few tries before finding the one that works for your baby. (Turns out, the best swaddle is one that works!) In general, there are two main kinds. Traditional blanket styles which can be tricky to get the hang of, but offer more versatility and customized fit and easier to use pouch-style swaddles that leverage velcro and zippers to snuggle baby just right. "When choosing a swaddle my recommendation is to look for light and breathable materials, and also ensure you can get a tight fit with the material. Sometimes bulky or thick materials are difficult to swaddle with, so a light muslin swaddle is generally my recommendation. However, if your baby is breaking out of the swaddle frequently then using a velcro swaddle will help give baby a tighter fit and is a safer option," says Mitchell.

Related: Baby Sleep Guides & Schedules

Oh, the irony of new parenthood. While you could likely fall asleep face down in a pile of Legos while the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade marches on three feet from your head, getting baby to sleep requires planetary alignment, sorcery and an engineering degree.

Well, not really.

We've rounded up some of the most user-friendly, best swaddles that don't require complicated math (or even a fully awake parent) to operate. From soft muslin swaddles to cotton sacks that make middle of the night diaper changes as easy as possible, they may be just the thing to help everyone get a little more sleep. And nothing's better than that.

Best Baby Swaddles

aden and anais muslin swaddles

Aden + Anais

$39.99

Classic Muslin Swaddles (4-Pack)

There’s a good reason these top-rated swaddles have been a parenting staple for over 16 years. Basically, the muslin swaddle blankets from Aden + Anais are the Swiss army knife of parenting. They’re lightweight and versatile and come in handy far beyond simply swaddling your baby. They make perfect burp cloths and nursing covers, play time blankets or even to block the sun from the stroller on afternoon adventures.

When it comes to swaddling, they do require a bit of practice to get the technique down as there’s no velcro or clips to help keep it in place. On the bright side, that does allow you to create a wrap that best suits your little one’s needs. The softness gets better with every wash and there are a ton of gorgeous prints to choose from!

Solly Baby Swaddle

Solly Baby

$28

Baby Swaddle

Similarly, the silky soft and simple swaddles from Solly Baby come a learning curve, but once you’ve mastered it, it’s smooth sailing. (The brand even has some fabulous videos to help your technique.) At 52″ x 52″, they’re some of the largest on the market and made from a buttery-soft Tencel Modal fabric which has just the right amount of stretch and breathability. And we’d be remiss not to mention the absolutely gorgeous colors and delicate patterns which mean they easily live a long and happy life as scarves and wraps once your baby outgrows the swaddle stage! 😍

Halo Sleepsack

Halo

$24.99

SleepSack Multi-Way Adjustable Cotton Swaddle

Sometimes, it’s important to have options. The super breathable cotton swaddle from Halo–the brand synonymous with sleep sacks–allows you to easily swaddle baby in several of their favorite positions: Arms in, hands-to-face, or with one or both arms out. The front flaps provide plenty of space to customize the fit up top while the loose sack design allows free movement of the legs and hips. And because those early days can mean a bazillion diaper changes around the clock, an inverted zipper makes middle of the night clean ups as easy as possible.

Happiest Baby Sleepea Swaddle

Happiest Baby

$32.99

Sleepea Organic Cotton Swaddle

From Dr. Harvey Karp, sleep expert and Snoo creator, the Sleepea swaddles can make a 5-second swaddle expert out of anyone. (Yes, even completely exhausted, new parent zombies.) The foolproof design features a super simple internal band that secures baby’s arms and a snug, stretchy outer layer that even the most wiggle-worm babies can’t escape. It’s made from 100% organic cotton with breathable mesh panels at the shoulder and across the legs to keep baby from overheating and a two-way zipper for easy-access diaper changes. Ready to let their arms free? No problem. Simply unsnap the arm openings to use it as sleep sack!

 

Love to Dream Swaddle Ups

Love to Dream

$32.99

Newborn Swaddle UP

Been blessed with a “raise the roof” style sleeper who’s not a fan of traditional swaddling? Opt for a swaddle that allows the movement they crave. The Love to Dream Swaddle UP allows babies to reach their hands to their face and practice self-soothing while still providing the right amount of restriction to keep from startling themselves awake. The generous bottom half allows their legs to splay and kick while a two-way zipper makes diaper changes easy.

baby wearing The Ollie Swaddle

The Ollie World

$59.99

Ollie Swaddle

The Ollie World is an easy-to-use baby swaddle that some parents call a complete and total lifesaver. Launched by founder and tirelessly dedicated foster mom Hindi Zeidman in 2009, the swaddle was borne of her own need to find something that would work for Oliver, the little one in her care. Since then, it’s developed a total cult following for a multitude of reasons. For one thing, the fit is totally customizable. Velcro tabs at the top adjust to their preferred snugness, while the bottom half is secured with an elastic tie loop–a feature that not only makes diaper changes a breeze, but allows the swaddle to fit as long as possible. It’s also made from a highly breathable, moisture-wicking fabric that keeps little ones comfy no matter the temps and can be used with one or both arms out as they transition to sleeping unswaddled.