The trial and error of swaddling

In Baby by Ali MaldoffLeave a Comment

All your baby needs for a good night’s sleep is a great swaddle, they say. Just learn these simple swaddling skills, they say. Or better yet, purchase a super simple velcro sack that does all the hard work for you, they say. This is a surefire way to give your baby the comfort they need to sleep soundly, they say. In my prenatal life, swaddling sounded like the key to getting back to blissful full night sleeps of the pre-baby variety. Since this was my number one concern during pregnancy, I was uber-focused on this whole swaddling phenomenon.

The nurses in the hospital swaddled the crap out of my fresh new babe with a firm but gentle hand. I watched diligently and vowed I would learn the trade before I was discharged. I held the key to infant sleep! However, I didn’t know I was bringing home a newborn baby Houdini-Stegosaurus hybrid. She exerted her dinosaur grunts, practiced her slight of hand, and wriggled her way out of every swaddle iteration. If her tiny shimmy-shake didn’t do the trick, the prehistoric sound of her efforts would wake us both.

The trial and error of swaddling

The solution seemed simple, yes? Why would I continue to torture the little nugget with swaddles when she so clearly wanted to roam free? I thought this, too. Oh, naiveté! In one epic waking night, I quickly learned the only thing worse than swaddling was unswaddling. Most newborns (mine in particular) experience a few months of spastic movements. Without the knowledge that they control their hands, they tend to hit, swat and scratch their own faces, which angers them to no end. As soon as those little limbs got going, there was no sleeping sounding for my babe.

I bet you’re wondering how I have even had my hands free long enough to ramble so epically on the topic of swaddling. Without further ado, here is my (exhaustive) roundup of pretty much every swaddle product on the market. Little Miss Stegosaurus herself tried, tested, and conquered all swaddles on my list. Perhaps this will save you some time, effort, and cash from ordering every option available on Amazon Prime at 3 a.m.

Summer Infant SwaddleMe

Summer Infant Swaddle Me (newborn, arms in)

This Summer Infant SwaddleMe Original swaddle worked like a charm for the first week of her life. We burrito-ed our precious little bundle in her apple print swaddle and constantly passed her around to relatives. It worked like a charm! Everyone neglected to tell us newborn babies sleep pretty constantly for the first week, regardless of what you do. They don’t have the energy to stay awake for much longer than their 8-12 feedings in a 24-hour period. Maybe our swaddle success coincided with a particularly sleepy stage. However, we were happy with it, but she outgrew this one in length fairly quickly — by about week 3. That said, this variety of swaddle comes in a few sizes. It grows along with your baby if it’s doing the trick for you.

HALO SleepSack

HALO SleepSack (arms out)

I decided after many attempts that what my little one might need is the freedom of her arms. I thought a swaddle that provided the snug comfort around the body with cutouts for her arms would be the perfect solution. After a major failure involving lots of wake-ups, we kept the HALO SleepSack around for when she was a little older and could control her arms better. After we were able to sleep train around 5 months, this did provide the close security of a swaddle with the added movement of her arms since she was an active roller.

Woombie swaddle


Everyone in my mommy and me class swore by the Woombie as the key to a full night’s sleep. My babe slept soundly in the Woombie for her naps during the day. But when it came to night sleep, she was so frustrated with the inability to gain any additional space inside that her dino grunts quickly turn to sobs. I thought one night of waking every hour might be a coincidence, maybe a growth spurt. However, we tried this one a few times at night and many times during the day and for some reason she’d take it by day but not by night. I love the design and simplicity of this swaddle though. I kept using this one for the sheer ease of it.

Love to Dream Swaddle UP

Love to Dream Swaddle UP

A perfect hybrid of the Woombie (just as easy to use with it’s zipper closure) and the HALO SleepSack (the arms out version), the Swaddle UP won in the long term. Simple, lightweight, easy on and off, room to move arms around without breaking free, and the option to zip off the arm holes when the time came, this little baby stood the test of time.

Aden + Anais muslin swaddle blankets

Aden + Anais Muslin Swaddle Blankets

Oddly enough, the good old fashioned origami swaddle skills routinely delivered the longest night sleeps of all these fancy new products. My little one generally tended to wriggle mostly free of it by morning. When I peeked my head over her bassinet, she looked decked out for a toga party. However, the Aden + Anais swaddles provided the snug fit she needed while sleeping, with wiggle room to move those little arms when she needs them. True all-nighters still weren’t happening, but we slept a good 5 or 6 hours with this method.

As with anything involving a newborn baby, swaddling works differently for all families. Each individual child reacts differently to different swaddles. Wouldn’t it be nice if they had a uniform operating system?

Have you had any swaddle success with these or other products?

Meet the Author | Ali Maldoff

Hailing from the vibrant (if wintery) city of Toronto, Ali Maldoff now lives in sunny LA where she explores everything beachy and beautiful with her husband and baby daughter. She is a freelance writer, social media manager, and founder of the minty fresh food/lifestyle/DIY blog, Mint Sprinkles.

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