I have found swaddling to be an essential skill for surviving the early months of caring for my daughters. Like many mothers, I tried it out, but found the swaddle didn't hold or the baby squirmed out of it. Like many, I assumed that meant that the baby didn't like it, or it didn't work.
A lactation consultant once told me that if swaddling didn't "work," it was because I wasn't doing it right. She could not have been more right. I've shared that gem with many over the years, and get a lot of resistance. But I can tell you that every single mother I know who has committed to learning to swaddle correctly and using it consistently has been rewarded with a happier baby and often more sleep for the whole family. Swaddling also have additional specific benefits for breastfeeding .
So how do you do swaddle correctly?
• With a traditional blanket – As mentioned, Harvey Karp is the best resource out there for how to swaddle traditionally with a blanket. His "DUDU" technique worked for us without fail, as long as we did it tightly enough. One tip I'd add is that this technique worked best for us with a thermal/waffle-weave-style blanket, or other stretchy fabric.
• With a swaddle blanket – I honestly can't comment on the "swaddle me" variety of blanket with the Velcro closures, as I never tried these out. But this is because I was lucky enough to be given a Miracle Blanket as a gift. I've heard mixed reviews of the Velcro kind, but if you want to go with a swaddle blanket, I'd go right the Lexus of blankets with the Miracle Blanket product. It holds the arms effectively with little flaps just for them, which is the most critical part of swaddling, and is easy to use once you take a few minutes to read the directions and learn it. What I especially love is that the little pocket for the feet is optional, which makes it great for the summer or warmer spaces without causing worry about overheating. I also like that there is a natural unbleached and undyed cotton product, since their little body is encased in the material for so many hours. The only negative is that they are a bit pricey, because they are made from a large piece of material, but in my opinion worth every penny.
Learning to swaddle is a skill and a technique that too many parents pass up for lack of guidance or knowledge about the
benefits. It can be invaluable to assist in the establishment of successful breastfeeding and healthy sleep. I strongly encourage all mothers to learn and master this skill, and give it a fair chance to see if it works for you and your baby.