Swaddling - Birth to Two Months

Helping Hand Logo

Swaddling (SWAD ling) is the close wrapping of an infant, usually with a light cloth, leaving the head exposed. It is done to help young babies sleep quietly, awaken fewer times and cry less. A blanket wrapped snugly around your baby’s body can feel like the mother’s womb and help soothe a newborn baby.

How to Swaddle Correctly

  1. Spread your baby’s receiving blanket out flat, with one corner folded down.

  2. Lay the baby face-up on the blanket, with his or her head above the folded corner.

  3. Straighten the left arm, and wrap the left corner of the blanket over the baby’s body. Tuck it in between the right arm and the right side of the body.

  4. Then tuck the right arm down. Fold the right corner of the blanket over the baby’s body and under the left side.

  5. Fold or twist the bottom of the blanket loosely and tuck it under one side of the baby. The baby’s legs should not be tightly wrapped straight down and pressed together. Be sure the legs are able to bend up and out at the hips. This allows for natural development of the hip joints. (See Picture 1 for correct swaddling.)

  6. Check to be sure you can get 2 or 3 fingers between the baby’s chest and the swaddle. This endures the swaddle is not too tight.

the five steps of swaddling


  • Infants must continue to be placed on their backs when swaddled. Risk for sleep-related death increases if an infant is swaddled and placed on the side or stomach.

  • The baby could be too hot if you notice sweating, damp hair, flushed cheeks, heat rash or rapid breathing. You might try a lighter-weight blanket if that is the case.

  • Incorrect swaddling could result in the head becoming covered. In some cases, the blanket could wrap around the baby’s neck if the blankets become loose in the bed.

  • You should stop swaddling at 2 months of age, before the baby intentionally starts to try to roll.

When to Call 911

Call 911 immediately for help if:

  • Your baby is unresponsive

  • Your baby starts to turn blue

  • Your baby is having a hard time breathing.

Swaddling - Birth to Two Months (PDF)

HH-IV-172 4/17 Copyright 2017 Nationwide Children’s Hospital