Most of us depend on swaddling to get our babies to rest peacefully when they are still small.
While swaddling can help a child calm down and sleep longer, you have to make sure to put the right clothes underneath your child’s swaddle so they don’t overheat or get too cold.
Your baby simply needs a onesie under their swaddle in most cases. When it’s warm outside, a short-sleeved onesie will work, but you may need to switch to a long-sleeved version when the temperature gets cold. It’s important to check to make sure your baby isn’t too cold or too hot while sleeping.
If you choose to swaddle your baby, know how to do it safely. If your children are anything like mine, they will love being wrapped in the baby burrito.
Guide to Safe Swaddling
Swaddling can be a great way to help your baby rest, but you need to follow the rules for safe swaddling.
Should I Swaddle My Newborn at Night?
Yes, if your baby enjoys being swaddled, it is perfectly fine to swaddle them at night. Swaddling a baby keeps them from waking themselves up as often due to the startle reflex.
You see the startle, or Moro, reflex when your baby suddenly throws his little arms up and wakes himself up in the process.
Swaddling helps many babies avoid this and keeps them sleeping longer.
Best Material for Swaddle Blanket
Most swaddle blankets are made of some kind of cotton blend. Muslin cotton is popular because it’s very soft.
Bamboo cotton is also an option that parents like because it can keep a baby cool even when they are swaddled throughout the night.
Do Babies Wear Anything Under Swaddle?
Yes, babies usually wear a onesie under their swaddles. This keeps them from getting too cold at night.
However, if the temperature is already warm, your baby will only need a thin, short-sleeved onesie. In colder temperatures, go for long sleeves.
How Tight Should a Swaddle Be?
A swaddle needs to be tight enough to keep your baby snug but not so tight that your baby can’t breathe properly.
A good rule is that your hand, when laid flat, should be able to fit between your baby’s chest and the swaddle.
Baby Arm Position When Swaddling
Swaddle your baby with their arms down. Though they may try to wiggle out of this position, they are less likely to startle themselves or to pull themselves out of the swaddle if they start with their arms down.
It’s also easier to swaddle a baby with their arms by their side.
How Long To Swaddle a Baby Per Day
As long as you do it properly, your baby can be swaddled for hours a day during those first few weeks of life.
While the American Academy of Pediatrics says anywhere from 12-20 hours a day is okay, it’s important to make sure your baby is comfortable and is at the right temperature when swaddled.
Best Room Temperature for Baby
Babies are not simply tiny adults, so how do you know what temperature they need to be comfortable at night? Here’s what experts recommend:
Ideal Temperature for Baby Room in Winter
Even in winter, you don’t want to cause your baby to overheat by putting them in a super hot room. The recommended temperature for a baby’s room in winter is between 68 and 72 degrees.
Ideal Temperature for Baby Room in Summer
The season may change, but the room temperature recommendations stay the same for babies in summer. Between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal.
Disadvantages of Swaddling a Baby
While it’s fine to swaddle your baby before he can roll over on his own, you have to stop once he can because it’s not a safe sleep practice anymore.
If your child has grown dependent on swaddling, then transitioning them out of the swaddle may cause some difficulty with their sleep cycle for a bit.
Also, some babies just don’t like being swaddled, so doing so could cause you further sleep deprivation.
Swaddling Baby: How Long?
When your baby starts rolling over, you need to stop swaddling them. You should always put your baby on his back to sleep, but at some point, he will be able to roll on his tummy without anyone’s help.
At that point, it’s not safe for him to be in a swaddle any longer. He could wrap it around his face and suffocate once he is able to move that much in the crib.
Signs Baby Is Too Hot
A few signs that your baby is too hot include:
- Red face or ears
- A heat rash
- Rapid breathing
- Clammy skin
It’s important to check and see if your baby is too warm because they won’t always wake up and cry if they are overheating.
Having a child in a room that is too warm can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), so don’t layer too many clothes underneath your child’s swaddle.
Signs Baby Is Too Cold
If your baby is too cold, you may see the following signs:
- Cold chest or back
- Slow breathing
- Pale skin
Babies have a hard time regulating their own body temperature during those first few weeks of life, so make sure they are comfortable when resting.
What Should Babies Wear Under Sleep Sack?
Your baby can wear the same thing under a sleep sack as they do a regular swaddle blanket: a onesie with long or short sleeves depending on the weather and temperature of the room.
Can Babies Overheat in Swaddle?
If you overdress your baby or keep them in a room that is too warm, your baby can overheat in a swaddle.
However, following basic safety guidelines for swaddling can help you avoid this. You should also know the signs of overheating so you can intervene if your child is too warm.
Swaddling was a lifesaver for my little ones, and it helped me actually get some sleep. Become a baby-burrito master, and watch your little one stay calm and rest longer.
Kristy is the mother of four, including identical twins. With a background in education and research, she is constantly learning more about parenting and raising multiples. When she has spare time, she enjoys hiking into the woods with a great book to take a break.