Mayo Clinic Health Library

Slide show: How to swaddle a baby

Updated: 08-26-2011

Keeping baby cozy

Illustration of baby swaddled in a blanket Looking for a way to soothe your newborn? Research shows that swaddling — a technique that mimics the coziness of the womb — can keep your baby warm and comfortable, as well as help him or her sleep better and longer. When swaddling isn't done properly, however, it can pose risks for your baby. To safely swaddle your baby, follow these tips.

Getting started

Illustration of preparing the blanket for swaddling

To place your baby in a swaddle, spread out a large, thin blanket and slightly fold over one corner. Lay your baby face up on the blanket, placing his or her head at the edge of the folded corner. While holding your baby in place, pick up one corner of the blanket. Bring the blanket across your baby's body. Tuck the blanket beneath him or her.

Covering baby's feet

Illustration of swaddling in progress

Fold the bottom point of the blanket up, leaving room for your baby's feet to move freely. Swaddling a baby too tightly can increase the risk of overheating or developing a respiratory infection. Swaddling a baby in a way that prevents his or her hips or knees from being able to move can also increase the risk of developmental dysplasia of the hip — a condition in which a baby's hip can be partially or completely dislocated. If your baby has dysplasia, swaddling isn't recommended.

Completing the swaddle

Illustration of final step in swaddling

While holding your baby in place, pick up the other corner of the blanket. Bring the blanket across your baby's body. Tuck the blanket beneath your baby, leaving only his or her head and neck exposed.

Keeping a swaddled baby safe

Illustration of baby swaddled in a blanket

Once you've swaddled your baby, be sure to practice safe sleep habits. Always place a swaddled baby on his or her back to sleep. Stop swaddling when your baby learns to roll onto his or her stomach. A swaddled baby on his or her stomach might have difficulty breathing. This position also increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Keep in mind that swaddling can cause a baby to overheat, too. If you have questions about how to safely swaddle your baby, consult your baby's doctor.

Jump to Slide: