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Swaddling 101: why you need to swaddle your baby

little unicorn swaddle hedgehog swaddling blanket

Little Unicorn hedgehog swaddling blanket, from their Facebook page

The transition period directly after birth is often referred to as the “fourth trimester”: a time in which all of the stimuli of the outside world can easily overwhelm your baby, and while her nervous system matures, she’ll be happiest with sensations that remind her of the womb. The well-loved “Happiest Baby on the Block” book by Harvey Karp, M.D. advises parents to keep babies happy through the “5 S’s,” and one of the key techniques for soothing your baby is swaddling.

The Happiest Baby site calls swaddling “the cornerstone of calming”: it gives your baby the familiar tightly enclosed feeling of the womb, and keeps their arms from flailing when the Moro reflex kicks in. Not only does this help them to calm down, stay calm, fall asleep, and sleep longer, but it also may protect babies from SIDS, possibly because it’s a good way to keep bedding away from their face, and/or because it helps to keep them sleeping on their back. As Sheri put it when she was introducing Aden + Anais swaddle blankets on our blog: swaddling can save your sanity.

Nurses will routinely swaddle your baby in the hospital, and they’ll show you how to do it yourself, but don’t worry if you don’t get the technique down right away!  There are also plenty of swaddling blankets on the market that are designed to make it simpler: for instance, the Aden + Anais Easy Swaddle uses specialized pockets and snaps, and the Ergobaby Swaddler uses Velcro (and has some super super cute patterns too).

However, many moms swear by the simple fabric squares that have been used for countless generations, and the classic square swaddles from Aden + Anais are perennial bestsellers. Along with their famous breathable, gauzy, stretchy fabric that gets softer with every wash, these swaddling blankets are famed for their versatility: they’ll be used for years to come as stroller covers, nursing covers, burp cloths, tummy time blankets, loveys, and more.

Little Unicorn swaddling blankets work the same way: they’re also simple muslin squares, with plenty of other uses after you’re done with the swaddling stage (for instance, one of our store employees is mulling over buying a few as scarves!). The primary difference between Aden + Anais and Little Unicorn muslin swaddles is aesthetic – they both have a spare, simple, modern look that fits neatly into our wheelhouse, but the delicate watercolor look of Little Unicorn is a little more funky. Also, while both brands give you cotton or bamboo muslin options, their bamboo fabric blends are different, which Eli discusses in an upcoming video on our Youtube channel.

Finally, we get to your most important question: just how is swaddling accomplished? There are many excellent how-to videos online, but my favorite features our experts at Magic Beans Norwell:

You can also see a great step-by-step illustration from Little Unicorn on our recent intro to their products here.

Not sure which swaddles are right for you? Or, since every baby is different, and you’re not going to know what they like until after they’re born, have you discovered that now that your baby has arrived, they’re not that into the swaddles you bought? (For instance, some babies are determined to sleep with their hands up, so Love To Dream swaddles might do the trick!)

We’re here to help: come visit us in any Magic Beans store, live chat with us here on our website, or sign up for a FREE consultation with our experts, who can walk you through your options so you find the perfect fit.

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