Let’s get one thing out of the way. YES, you need swaddles. Swaddles are an amazingly effective way to calm your newborn, help them fall asleep, and stay asleep. So the next question is how many swaddles do I need? And we’re about to cover EVERYTHING you need to know about the swaddle.
What is a swaddle?
A baby swaddle means wrapping your precious little peanut up so that they cannot move their arms. This might seem like a bizarre practice to an adult, but swaddling has been used all over the world for centuries to calm babies and help them fall asleep in a cozy womb-like environment.
Why swaddles rock
Imagine how helpless you’d feel as a brand new mom when your tiny baby starts crying inconsolably. And then, all of a sudden, she just stops, and gazes at you with her calm, loving eyes before gently dozing off to sleep.
That was my experience the first time I swaddled my baby.
If you think about it, your baby calmly spent months squished tight in your tummy, so the idea bundling them up in a swaddle actually seems pretty natural. I learned about the power of swaddles after reading The Happiest Baby on the Block where the author explained that babies love being bundled up tight, but it became glaringly obvious when the nurse at the hospital swaddled my crying baby and handed me a calm little angel.
Babies have a startle reflex, where they just uncontrollably flail the arms right before falling asleep. As you can imagine, they find this rather upsetting. A nice tight swaddle keeps their arms from moving which keeps your sleeping angel from waking up.
Swaddles also helped us get our babies to the elusive “sleep through the night” stage before three months. They’d wake up a tiny bit, but their cozy swaddled arms just told them to go back to sleep.
How many swaddles do I need?
So you’ve just learned that swaddle blankets are magical, so the next question must be how many swaddles do I need?
We recommend you get 3 or 4 swaddles.
Of course there are several factors that might change this answer, but if you start with just one pack, you could always get some more.
- Does your baby wake up with a wet swaddle? If your baby’s diaper often leaks, then you’ll obviously go through your swaddles faster, which brings us to the next factor.
- How often will you do laundry? If you think you’ll be doing laundry just once a week like you did pre-baby, there’s a good chance you’ll need to stock up on more baby essentials, which means you’ll need many swaddles.
In general, your swaddles won’t get as dirty as the rest of your baby’s essentials, so unless your baby pees on it or spits up on it, your swaddle can last you a few days before having to go in the hamper.
You should also consider if you’ll be using a swaddle blanket or a special swaddle. We’ll get to that later.
Our favorite swaddles
We absolutely LOVE the Miracle Blanket swaddle because it works. The clever design will tuck your baby’s arms in making sure they stay nice and secure, and don’t try to get out. You’ll also be able to change your baby’s diaper without unravelling your baby – a feature you’ll definitely appreciate.
The amazing color options are a nice touch too.
Kids N Such offer an amazing selection of patterns so that your calm little swaddler will also be the most stylish baby on the block.
These muslin blankets are come in 47″ x 47″. The perfect size for a cozy swaddle.
SwaddleMe is the go-to when it comes to easy-to-use swaddles. They’re soft and comfortable, and make for easy diaper changes.
It also helps that they come in a pack of three, so instead of asking how many swaddles do I need, you know you’ll be set.
The Halo swaddle is super easy to use. What more could you ask for. This set gives you a swaddle and a sleep sack so you can transition over as soon as you’re ready.
The Love to Dream swaddle is a neat alternative to conventional swaddles. This is essentially a sleep sack that keeps your little one’s arms inside.
So they’re not tightly swaddled, but they’re still tucked in tight.
What’s a swaddle blanket?
A swaddle blanket is usually a large square (48” x 48”) made of muslin fabric.
What’s muslin? Muslin is a loosely-woven cotton. It has a bit of a texture, and it’s also extra soft – especially after washing. Muslin is nice for swaddles because it’s so light and breathable, but it also has a bit of give, so you don’t have to worry about restricting your baby too much.
You want your swaddle to be big to get a chance to tuck in the corners. Otherwise your clever little baby will get out.
Swaddle blankets are really nice even when you’re done swaddling for sleep, you can use them as a light blanket to cover your baby in the summer, and they’re great at blocking the harsh sun out of your baby’s eyes in the car seat while still letting plenty of light in.
An alternative to standard square swaddles, are swaddle wraps.
Swaddle blanket vs swaddle wrap
Even though I completely mastered the art of the swaddles, my Hulk baby figured out how to break out of them within a few weeks. It was kind of genius, actually.
But truth be told, most parents don’t get the swaddling technique quite right, which really defeats the purpose of the swaddle.
That’s when I got The Miracle Blanket. The Miracle Blanket tucks your little one’s arms by their sides, and then swaddles them up securely. There’s nothing to master.
An awesome bonus to this swaddle wrap is that it gave us access for a diaper change – an obvious downside of the traditional swaddle blanket.
There are also the SwaddleMe wraps on the market that are cute and keep your baby tucked up tight, but they don’t necessarily tuck in the arms, so they’re not as effective if your baby has a strong startle reflex that wakes them up. Still, they’ll be cozy and secure in their little cocoon swaddles.
If you want to go with a wrap, and wondering how many swaddles do I need, we’d recommend starting with just one to see if you like it.
There’s a good chance, you’ll only need one anyway because they don’t get all that dirty, so you can really stretch it to laundry day.
What if my baby fights the swaddle?
Your baby will fight the swaddles. Accept it.
But as I learned from The Happiest Baby book (and from personal experience,) if you persist, they will calm down within a couple of minutes. Short term pain for long term gain, if you consider that swaddles may help your baby learn to sleep through the night.
Of course, at some point your baby will really fight back, so that will be the time to adjust.
For how long can I swaddle my baby
You will see a few signs that your baby is ready to move on from swaddles.
- If they’re easily breaking out of swaddles, you might just be giving yourself a headache you don’t need.
- If they’re starting to roll onto their tummies, it may be time to start reconsidering swaddles.
- If they don’t calm down the way they used to. They’re done.
The timing is different for every baby, but if you got a good six months out of your swaddles, consider yourself lucky!
Is swaddling safe?
Yes, in general swaddling is safe. There’s a reason that swaddles have been around for centuries. There have been some “advocates” concerned that babies need the freedom to move their arms. Their recommendation is to allow their arms to be free, or to not swaddle so tight. But that really defeats the purpose of the swaddle.
Of course, there are genuine concerns you should be aware of:
- Baby turning over. Truth be told, babies have been turning over in their cribs forever. But it’s still unsettling, so if your baby can roll onto their tummy, it’s a good time to stop the swaddles.
- Loose blanket in the crib. We all know to not have loose items in baby’s crib. So if you’re finding your swaddles loose, they’ve got to go.
- Swaddle being too tight. It’s really hard to over-swaddle the baby. Original swaddles had leather straps to keep them from coming loose, so your little muslin blanket should be fine.
- Baby overheating. Muslin blankets are generally lightweight and breathable, but we wouldn’t recommend something overly-warm like flannel PJs to go with swaddles. Babies don’t like that.
- Co-sleeping. Co-sleeping needs a whole checklist of safety precautions, so I would take care of those before worrying about how many swaddles do I need.
How do I use swaddles?
TL;DR – How many swaddles do I need?
Swaddling is an amazingly effective way to calm your baby and help them sleep. Don’t skip out on this essential. If you’re buying standard muslin swaddles, we recommend going with 3 or 4. If you’ll be buying a specialized swaddle wrap, start with 1 or 2.
Read more: How Many Crib Sheets Do I Need?
How many swaddles is too many?
More than 10 swaddles is too many. Swaddles are an essential part of the first few months of your baby’s life. Most parents can easily get away with 3 or 4 swaddles, but they risk cutting it tight when it comes to laundry. If you’re an over-preparer, or you’re concerned about laundry, buying up to ten swaddles may work better, but is not essential.
How many muslin wraps do I need?
3 or 4 muslin wraps should be plenty for new parents who want to swaddle. Swaddles don’t generally get as dirty as other baby essentials, so a pack of three should last most parents up to a week.
Of course, the over-prepared parents, may prefer to buy a few more so that they don’t run out of swaddles at the most inconvenient time.
Do newborns need to be swaddled all day?
Newborns do not need to be swaddled all day. Swaddling is a nice and effective way to help a newborn become calm, fall asleep, and stay asleep. During the day, your newborn may enjoy some tummy time, skin-to-skin, and just bonding time.
Do you need a lot of swaddle blankets?
You don’t need a lot of swaddle blankets. This really depends on how often you want to do laundry, but most parents can easily get away with just a pack of 3 or 4 swaddles.