Swaddling Infants

Swaddling (wrapping tightly) in a blanket calms many young babies. However, improper use of this practice increases risk of harm. If the blanket is too loose, it can move up to cover the infant’s face. Loose blankets around the infant’s head are a risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS.) Swaddling may cause overheating, another SIDS risk factor. If the blanket wraps the legs so they are not free to move, researchers find the baby is more likely to develop hip disease. 

Swaddling in the child care setting is not recommended. (See STANDARD in Caring for Our Children.) If a particular infant needs to be swaddled to settle for sleep, then that child should have a physician recommendation for the practice. That child’s teachers/caregivers should learn how to use the diamond-shaped technique. This involves putting the baby’s head above the folded-down corner of a square blanket. Then bring the right corner of the blanket over the baby’s right arm, under the left arm and left side. Next, fold the left corner of the blanket over the baby’s left arm and under the right side. Fold the bottom of the blanket loosely so that the baby’s legs can bend up and out. Tuck the bottom of the blanket under the baby.

Be sure to use the back-to-sleep placement of babies in their cribs. If a baby does roll over after being placed in the back-to-sleep position, there is no need to roll the baby over to the back-to-sleep position. Remember: no loose bedding or soft objects in the crib. Reviewed and reaffirmed 7/2021