Swaddling 101

No need to worry about wrapping up your little burrito -- it’s easier than you think.

Swaddling 101

Affectionately known as the baby burrito, swaddling is a great way to soothe your baby's existential pains during the first few months. The compact environment created by swaddling suggests the snugness of the womb, helping babies gain their worldly bearing while holding on to the in utero sensation they are so comfortable with. Swaddling also helps babies -- and you! -- sleep more soundly and for longer stretches by decreasing startle-reflex awakenings. These are 3 methods of swaddling that I recommend to clients: The Traditional The key to executing this ancient method is finding a blanket with a with a fair bit of stretch. My go-to blanket is Woombie’s Old Fashioned AirWrap Blanket. These blankets are stretchy and vented (keeping babes cooler), they come in great colors, and hold up in the dryer. Swaddle Designs and aden + anais also make nice swaddling blankets. The traditional swaddling method is as follows: 1. Spread the blanket out flat, with one corner folded down. 2. Lay the baby face-up on the blanket, with her head above the folded corner. 3. Straighten the left arm, and wrap the left corner of the blanket over the body, tucking the blanket between the right arm and the right side of the body. 4. Then tuck the right arm down and bring bottom corner of the blanket up and over the body/right arm pulling the blanket snug behind the right side of the the body. 5. Finally, wrap the right corner of the blanket over your baby's body, until only a small bit of the blanket remains. 6. Tuck any remaining blanket fabric behind the back. This method takes some practice, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be set. The trick is to roll your baby gently from side to side as you tuck the blanket over and underneath their back. Make sure not too wrap your baby too tightly, allowing her hips to move somewhat freely. Wrapping the hips too tightly can lead to hip dysplasia. The Structured Swaddle If you are struggling with the traditional method, the a structured swaddle is a good alternative. Pre-fabricated swaddles, such as The Miracle Blanket, perform the same function as a swaddle but has only two basic steps, making it fail proof. Babies also have a harder time wriggling out of them. The Sleep Pod One of the newest additions the market is a sleep pod consisting of a pod-shaped piece of fabric with a zipper, which runs along the length of the pod. To use the sleep pod, just unzip it and place your baby inside. Swaddling, done. Woombie, makes a great sleep pod with an opposable zip, making changing diapers without waking your baby a breeze. One side note about sleep pods: they aren’t as taut as the other two swaddling options, so if your baby is a mover, I recommend sleep pods for naps during the daytime and structured swaddle or traditional swaddle for the nighttime. However you decide to bundle up your little one, safety should be a top priority. The American Academy Of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that you place your baby on their back to sleep, and monitor them to be sure they doesn't roll over while swaddled. Swaddling is effective up until about two to three months of age. After that, babies intentionally start to roll over in their sleep. At this stage swaddling should be discontinued, allowing their hands to be free so they can roll back over and support themselves. A sleep sack, like The Halo SleepSack, is a great interim option when you graduate from swaddling. Essentially a wearable blanket, it’s similar to a sleep pod, but it allows the arms to be free, so they can support themselves. It’s a great alternative as the AAP recommends keeping blankets out of your baby's crib until their at least 12 months old. Happy Sleeping! Top image via Honest.

After 4 kids, this is still the best baby gear item I’ve ever purchased

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.

I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.

But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.

In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.

We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.

BABYBJÖRN bouncer bliss

baby bjorn bouncer

The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.


Lightweight + compact:

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.

Entertainment zone:

Is the toy bar worth it? The toy bar is totally worth it. Not only is the toy bar adorable, but it's one of the first toys that my babies actually play with once they discover the world beyond my boobs. The toys spin and are close to eye level so they have frequently kept my baby entertained while I cook or take a quick shower.

Great style:

This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.

It's adjustable:

With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.

It just works:

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.

So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Earth Mama: Effective, natural herbal care for mamas and babies

Founded and grown in her own garage in 2002, Earth Mama started as an operation of one, creating salves, tinctures, teas and soaps with homegrown herbs. With a deep desire to bring the healing powers of nature that have been relied on for thousands of years to as many mamas as possible, Melinda Olson's formulas quickly grew into Earth Mama Organics. Since then, the brand has remained committed to manufacturing clean, safe and effective herbal solutions for the entire journey of motherhood, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care, and even the loss of a baby.

Bravado Designs: Soothing sounds for a good night's sleep

With 28 years of serving pregnant and postpartum mamas under their belt, Bravado Designs is a true authority on the needs of changing bodies. It's true that we have them to thank for rescuing us from the uncomfortable and frumpy designs our own moms had to live with. Launched in Canada by two young mamas, they designed the first prototypes with extra leopard print fabric certain that a better bra was possible. Throughout the years they've maintained their commitment to ethical manufacturing while creating long-lasting products that truly work.

The Sill: Instagram-ready potted plants

We've long admired this female-founded brand and the brilliant mind behind it, Eliza Blank. (She even joined Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety on and episode of The Motherly Podcast!) The mission behind the business was simple: To make the process of bringing plants into your home as easy as possible, and as wonderful as the plant themselves. With their in-house, exclusively designed minimalist planters, the end result makes plant parenthood just a few clicks away.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

Keep reading Show less

It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

Keep reading Show less