Guys, I want all the babies. They’re so tiny and cute and snuggly! Something about their innocence and helplessness gives me all the feels. When you bring a new baby home in a tiny car seat, there’s a great sense of responsibility to, you know, keep that little person alive. But for me it has always felt like a privilege.
The Reality of No Sleep
All of this goes out the window, however, when it’s 2:00 a.m. and no one in the house is sleeping. Sure, babies are cute, but that cute factor wanes a bit when my eyes burn as I open them and my legs feel like rubber when I climb out of bed. Stumbling to my baby’s crib, I try to wake myself up enough to change a diaper and finish a feeding. This is when the whole blank slate aspect of babies is less fun. What do you mean I have to teach them how to sleep? Isn’t that, like, the most basic, easy thing a person can do?
Replicating the Womb
Yes, sleeping is kind of a no-brainer–if you have the right conditions. I mean, you’d probably have a hard time sleeping well in a hard chair or with loud, heavy metal music playing. So it makes sense that babies need the proper conditions for optimal sleep, too. In those early months of life, that means recreating what they were used to in the womb. The best way to replicate the womb is through swaddling in a baby swaddle blanket.
What is Swaddling?
Swaddling is the time-honored tradition of snugly wrapping your baby to help her sleep. Basically, it’s turning your kid into a baby burrito–or a chimichanga, if you prefer. When they’re swaddled, babies’ arms are restricted, as is their movement in general. While this may sound uncomfortable to us adults, it’s how babies lived in the womb. (And any woman who has been pregnant can tell you there’s not much room in there at the end!)
How Does Swaddling Help?
If you’ve ever seen non-swaddled newborns sleeping, you may have noticed that they will occasionally throw their arms up in the air and startle themselves awake. If they have too much space to move with nothing to hold them tight, they can feel as if they are falling. Not surprisingly, this feeling wakes them up, leading to a restless night for everyone.
Holding a baby as she sleeps is a great way to help her feel that sense of security and snugness she needs. But seriously, who wants to do that all night? I really love my baby snuggles, but I also love my own bed. And sleeping lying down. This is where baby swaddlers come in handy!
What Are the Swaddling Options?
Once upon a time, parents had to rely on swaddling bands for a good night’s sleep. But thankfully, things eventually got a little more comfortable and convenient.
And while you can try to swaddle a baby in a regular old blanket, it can be tricky. The blanket needs to be the right material and the right size to work properly. And honestly, most aren’t. Enter the baby swaddle blanket.
While there are special blankets made just for swaddling, most of our modern versions involve Velcro or zippers to secure them.
What to Look for in a Baby Swaddle Blanket
- Material. Muslin and cotton are the two most common materials used in baby swaddling. For hundreds of years, people have used muslin baby blankets of different sizes to keep their babies snuggly wrapped. The great thing about muslin is that it is lightweight, very durable, and actually gets softer the more it is used and washed. Cotton, on the other hand, is lightweight and comfortable, but it doesn’t last or stay soft like muslin does.
- Functionality. You want a baby swaddle blanket that will keep your baby wrapped up all night long. Look for a blanket with velcro, snaps, or zippers to keep your little Houdini in place.
- Size. I don’t know about you, but I hate buying something for my kids only to have them outgrow it right away. Your baby needs a newborn swaddle blanket or swaddle bag that you can use for at least six months, preferably more. The best option is a baby swaddle blanket with some extra room for your baby to grow.
Here are five of our favorite baby swaddle blankets to keep your baby comfortable and give you both the sleep you need!
5 Great Baby Swaddle Blankets
aden + anais Classic Swaddle Baby Blanket
- Soft, breathable cotton/ organic muslin fabric
- Can be used as more than a swaddler
- Child won’t grow out of it
- Harder to securely wrap
- Can come undone more easily
For the classic, traditional baby swaddle blanket, aden + anais is the gold standard. Made from soft, breathable muslin, they are perfect for your baby’s delicate skin. These organic swaddle blankets get softer with each wash without suffering any breakdown in quality! Although they are lightweight, they are nice and cozy for warmer months, and you won’t have to worry about your baby overheating. During the winter, they can be used with warm footie pajamas.
In addition to swaddling, these baby swaddle blankets can also be used as a stroller cover or nursing cover. And, of course, they work as a basic blanket as well. They come in adorable patterns to fit any style, and unlike swaddlers that use Velcro or zippers, they will continue to fit your child as she grows. So although they can be more expensive, the cost may be worth it for the amount of use you will get from them. Just be aware that your baby may break out of the swaddle fairly easily.
SwaddleMe Original Swaddle
- Lightweight so baby won’t overheat
- Less bulky than other options
- More affordable option
- Must undo swaddle for diaper changes
- Easier for larger babies to break out of
One of the more affordable baby swaddle blanket options, the SwaddleMe is made of lightweight cotton and is neither too bulky nor too warm. Your baby’s feet slide into the bottom part of the sack, and two wings are brought around her body and secured with Velcro–one in the center of the body and the other around the baby’s side.
The most unique feature of this baby wrap blanket is the slit located at the back, which allows you to slip a buckle or other harness through it for use in car seats and other seats. You can swaddle your baby with her arms at her side or crossed over her chest.
As a possible downside, the SwaddleMe requires you to completely unswaddle your baby for diaper changes, which may result in your baby waking more and taking longer to settle back down. It is also easier to break out of than many of its competitors.
HALO SleepSack Swaddle
- Can transition to regular sleep sack
- Bottom zipper for nighttime diaper changes
- Multiple swaddle options
- Loud Velcro can startle baby
- A little more bulky
HALO likes to boast that it is the number one swaddle bag choice of hospitals. And for good reason! In addition to being quite versatile, it is very safe and secure. The baby is zipped into the sleeveless swaddle bag, and two wings fold around her body to tuck her arms into a swaddle that is secured by a large strip of Velcro. Your baby will have a hard time breaking out!
You can swaddle your baby with both arms at her sides or with her hands up at her face so that she can self-soothe. Then, when your baby is ready to transition out of the swaddle, you can easy swaddle her with one arm out to begin and then both arms out when she is ready. After that, it works well as a regular wearable blanket.
The sack is sleeveless to prevent overheating, and it unzips from the bottom so that you can keep your baby swaddled during nighttime diaper changes. The sacks come in fabrics of varying warmth, so you can choose what works best based on the weather.
Love to Dream Swaddle UP
- Allows baby to self-soothe
- Bottom zipper for nighttime diaper changes
- Lets babies sleep in their natural position
- Neck opening too tight for some
- Fabric over hands can get very wet from sucking
Unlike other baby wrap blankets, this option positions your baby’s arms up rather than down. This is actually the natural way babies prefer to sleep when placed on their backs, as it allows them to move their arms and self-soothe by sucking on their hands. However, a baby’s startle reflex still causes problems in this position, so the Swaddle UP provides a snug sack to encapsulate your baby, providing the same boundaries around her whole body that she experienced in the womb.
A dual zipper means no loud Velcro to startle your sensitive baby. It also allows you to easily change nighttime diapers without removing your baby from the swaddle. Because babies’ hands are fully covered in this swaddle blanket, they can self-soothe without scratching their faces and causing injury. The entire sack is made from one piece of fabric, so it does not feel bulky or cause your baby to overheat.
Miracle Blanket Swaddle
- No loud Velcro
- Very hard to break out of
- One size fits all
- Requires a lot of wrapping and tucking to secure
- A little more bulky
Even though this swaddle blanket uses no method of securing itself–other than wrapping and tucking–it creates a strong swaddle that is very difficult for babies to break out of, even without a zipper or Velcro to make it secure. This is in large part due to the inner flaps that are designed to go around your baby’s arms and keep them in place.
The fabric of this swaddle blanket is incredibly soft and provides just enough stretch for your baby to feel secure but not restricted. And the pocket where the feet go is designed in such a way that you can swaddle your baby with her feet out and then easily buckle her into a stroller, swing, bouncer, or other seat with another blanket on top for warmth, if needed.
Swaddling your baby for the first few months of her life will make all the difference in how well she sleeps. While today’s baby swaddle blankets come in all different designs with many different ways to secure them, the best bet for your money is the HALO SleepSack Swaddle, as it allows for a variety of swaddle positions and can be used as a wearable blanket even after your baby has been weaned from the swaddle.
For those babies who get very frustrated by being swaddled with their arms down at their sides, the Love to Dream Swaddle UP is a great alternative that will still prevent the startle reflex and allow everyone a good night’s sleep.