How to Swaddle With Arms Up: Top Tips and Best Techniques for Your Baby


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A comprehensive guide to learning the best way to wrap your infant.

All mothers want their baby to be happy and calm. After waiting 9 months for your little one to arrive, though, it can be a nightmare to discover you have a cranky, crying infant. Luckily, there’s a great secret that will help you to soothe your tot, something that has been tried and tested for centuries – swaddling!

This effective yet simple technique can pacify babies, giving them the security and comfort that they crave once they’re out of your womb. It involves wrapping up your little one in a warm, comfortable and thin cloth or blanket.

While it can seem a little daunting, if you follow this guide to how to swaddle with arms up below, you’ll find you become an expert quickly! 

Why Should I Wrap My Baby?

For centuries, parents have wrapped their babies but why should you try it? 

1. Helps Infants Understand Their Sleep Routines

Newborns are wholly reliant on their instincts and their parents to help them understand the differences between night and day, and their wake up and sleep times. 

Swaddling with arms up allows your infant to associate this with sleep. Their first move toward understanding their routines of night and day! 

2. Sounder, Longer Sleep

Wrapping up a baby will essentially replicate the environment they were familiar with inside their mother’s womb. In turn, this comforts them and makes them feel safe.

If you wrap your infant properly, they’ll feel snug and this will help to prevent their startle reflex for a sounder and longer sleep.

3. Replicating the Parent’s Touch

When you know the best way to swaddle you’ll be replicating your touch for your little one. This makes them feel familiar and secure.

Swaddled babies experience far less anxiety when compared with unwrapped ones.

4. Eliminates the Requirement for Several Products

A tight swaddle provides a pleasant and cozy environment so your baby needs no toys, bumpers, pillows or lots of blankets. 

This is good news since studies have shown that if you use lots of items like this in your child’s crib, the chances of SIDS are increased.

5. Benefits for Parents

How often have you heard the phrase sleep when your newborn sleeps! As a new parent, you can enjoy a well-deserved rest when your infant is sleeping peacefully and comfortably. 

Best Way to Swaddle (Best Swaddle Method): An Expert Guide

For newborns, swaddling with arms up for the first few weeks is advised.

Knowing how to swaddle baby with their arms raised ensures your little one is enjoying a comfortable position with no stretching involved until your infant has grown sufficiently to be able to adapt to the change.

Until your tot has learned how to stretch out, swaddling arms up is the best option.

When you use this method, you’ll wrap your tot with their hands up close to their face and their legs in a baby’s natural position – a frog-like pose.

Are you ready to learn the best swaddle technique? Then read on!

Step 1: Choose a comfortable and appropriate surface

Choose a table, bed or other flat surface and ensure it’s comfortable with everything you need within easy reach.

Put the baby’s blanket onto the surface placed in the shape of a diamond. Fold over one corner. Folding between 5” and 7” of cloth is best.

Step 2: Position the infant

Place your little one gently onto the cloth so their body is laid on the blanket and their head is above its folded edge. Make sure your newborn is facing upward.

Step 3: Positioning the blanket’s left side

When you swaddle with arms up, your little one’s arms remain in their natural position close to their face. 

Hold your infant’s right hand, lifting it upwards. Now take the blanket’s left corner and tuck it gently under their right arm. Your child’s arm will then be outside the cloth.

The Arms Down Swaddle – alternative option:

If you’d rather wrap your infant with their arms down, only a little change is needed. Hold your baby’s left hand and grab the blanket’s left side. Gently, pull the cloth over their torso or chest and tuck it carefully underneath their right side. Easy! 

Step 4: Covering the legs

Bring up the blanket’s bottom part carefully over your infant’s leg and tuck it in the initial fold. 

Following this, you only need to wrap one more hand! Well done!

Step 5: Positioning the blanket’s right side

You now need to repeat the third step, but this time with the blanket’s right side. Position your infant’s right arm carefully above the blanket.

Gently, wrap it around their tummy while taking care that the cloth is tucked properly in underneath their left arm.

The correct way to swaddle for arms down:

If you’re using the arms down method, hold your little one’s right arm, positioning it over their body. Finally, pull the cloth, tucking it under their left side.

Step 6: Carrying Out Final Checks

Whether you swaddle arms up or arms down, you need to check if the cloth fits properly. If you swaddle too tightly, your infant will be uncomfortable.

Some space should be left between your infant and their blanket as this ensures they can breathe comfortably. Ideally, you should leave a gap of about two or three finger spaces. Any closer than this and it’s too tight. 

Furthermore, bear in mind a tight swaddle around your infant’s bottom is also a bad idea Your little one needs space for wiggling their legs. 

What is the Correct Way to Wrap Arms Only?

Should you wish to only wrap your infant’s arms – for example if they scratch their face or flail their arms excessively, try Velcro straps or sleep sacks. 

Studies have suggested this is a helpful way of reducing colic and reflux issues in babies since they hold tightly around their stomach.

How to Properly Swaddle Baby: Our Tips and Recommendations 

Other tips to help you to learn the best way to swaddle include: 

Letting Baby Sleep on His Back

Back sleeping is the best and safest position whether or not your little one is wrapped up. This will ensure there are no choking or breathing-related incidents..

Keep Your Little One’s Body Temperature at the Right Level

If you’re wondering how to swaddle tightly, it’s possible your baby’s body temperature may go up too high and they may overheat which increases the chances of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). 

It’s recommended never to bundle up your tot in many clothing layers. Regular bottoms together with their swaddle blanket will suffice. You should also ensure the temperature of the room is kept between 68 and 72 Fahrenheit. 

Don’t Opt For a Very Tight Swaddle

You should following the best swaddle technique, refraining from swaddling your tot too tightly as this will only cause discomfort. 

Keep some space between their blanket and chest and ensure the cloth’s bottom has sufficient space so your tot can move their legs easily. 

Choose the up or Down Arm Technique to Suit Your Baby’s Preferences 

Try both arms up and down methods to find out which your child prefers. 

When Should I Not Wrap My Baby?

Although swaddling is always recommended for newborns, it’s also fine to avoid it in some cases. These include:

Your Infant Resists Even After Coaxing and Trying 

Not all infants like to be restricted and may resist being wrapped. This may cause your tot to become more irritated instead of calming them down. 

Try several wrapping methods, for example, with one arm out of the cloth, or only wrapping their arms. You could even trying using sleep sacks or zip-up cocoons. If no method works though, just give up! 

Your Newborn Has a Greater Risk of Developing SIDS

Should your doctor have told you specifically that your tot has a greater risk of developing SIDS, avoid wrapping them up. 

The Temperature in the Room is High 

Wrapping up a baby may result in overheating so if weather conditions are humid and hot without any way of maintaining an appropriate temperature in the space avoid swaddling. 

There are some visible signs of overheating to be aware of including sweating, rapid breathing, heat rash or damp hair. If you notice any of these, cool your infant down. 

When Baby Can Roll Over

Once your little one can roll over, you should stop swaddling as it can restrict their development. 

Should I Stop Swaddling?

As babies cannot make any movement when they’re wrapped, you should stop as soon as they learn to roll over. Usually, this occurs around 3 – 5 months of age but some infants manage from 2 months of age. 

A tot which is able to move but who gets swaddled have a greater chance of being suffocated.

One further clue your need to quit wrapping your infant is when they start being especially active in tummy time. 

Here you’ll see some expert tips to smooth the transition to no swaddling:

  • Reduce wrapping gradually so your infant gets accustomed to going to bed without it. 
  • Switch to wearable blankets. These don’t restrict movements but offer security and comfort. These also help when transitioning to a crib from cosleeping.

Should I Be Aware Of Safety Concerns When Swaddling My Baby?

Although swaddling infants is beneficial, there are a few safety concerns linked with the practice. These include:

  • Swaddling too tightly can decrease your baby’s arousal once woken up and this may result in SIDS. 
  • Swaddled babies must sleep on their backs as they could be suffocated if they roll over when wrapped. 
  • Take great care to keep loose items such as soft toys and blankets away from your tot when they’re sleeping to reduce the chance of suffocation. 
  • Be careful you don’t wrap too tightly around your infant’s legs as this could cause hip dislocation/hip dysplasia. This condition causes the hip joint to stop functioning correctly with their thigh bone no longer being firmly held in its socket. 
  • Overheating is another risk – you must monitor your newborn while they sleep and you need to maintain an appropriate room temperature. Be aware of overheating signs like heavy breathing, hair dampness and redness and if you spot them, remove the cloth straight away. 

Final Thoughts

Finally, choosing whether or not swaddling is right for your infant is your choice but there are lots of benefits, so you should definitely consider it. 

If you decide you may want to give it a try, introduce it at an early stage. 

Use the techniques we’ve outlined here about how to swaddle with arms up and we’re sure you’ll soon become confident. Although it can appear to be quite daunting, you’ll soon find it a breeze, we know.

Further ore, you can experiment with several methods to determine which ones work best in the case of your newborn. 

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