Alternatives to Swaddling

Alternatives to SwaddlingSwaddling is a sleep aid that many baby experts and parents recommend. Much like their time in the womb, swaddling provides a cozy and snug environment for your baby. Since many newborns have twitching-like reflexes that they are unable to control, swaddling helps keep them still, calm and ready for sleep. However, some babies resist swaddling leaving parents to wonder about alternatives to swaddling.

Swaddling is a tried and true method of soothing babies to sleep for many. It’s one of the 5 S’s that Harvey Karp, author of Happiest Baby on the Block, recommends for calming babies. But when babies are not feeling the love from a swaddle or age-out of swaddling, many parents search for alternatives to swaddling to help pacify their babies and lure them to sleep.

One helpful solution is wrapping only the upper or lower area of your baby’s body. This can be achieved in several ways. First, you can use your traditional swaddle blanket or a pre-made swaddle blanket and only wrap up your baby’s legs. Or you can use an upper body only swaddle called the Swaddle Strap, which holds your baby’s arms in place to avoid sudden movements that may wake her.

Sleep sacks are also great alternatives to swaddling. They zip over your baby’s clothes or pajamas to form a wearable sleeping bag, of sorts. Sleep sacks come in long sleeve or sleeveless versions to keep your baby cooler or warmer depending on the season. Another nifty take on the sleep sack is the Zipadee-Zip. It zips your baby’s arms and legs within compartments in a blanket to allow some movement but still binds your baby for warmth and comfort.

Sometimes alternatives to swaddling don’t involve a different wrapping method, but simply require sleep associations and a better sleep environment to help ease your baby into dreamland. A consistent naptime and bedtime routine that may include a bath, a feeding, a story or a lullaby are all great for getting your baby ready for sleep. Also, having a sound machine and a soft nightlight can make your baby’s room feel comfortable and safe. Creating sleep associations will signal to your little one that it’s time to clam down and get ready for rest. After awhile, she’ll come to expect and enjoy the routine and the sleep that follows.

Rocking, wearing or bouncing your baby to sleep may help too. Being held closely and tightly to mommy or daddy is somewhat like being swaddled, but better! Plus movement may help your baby relax and fall asleep faster.

You may need to combine some of these alternatives to swaddling or try a few to find what works best for your baby. For those who enjoy it, swaddling is great up until 3 or 4 months. After that, transitioning to alternatives to swaddling is a better choice to allow your baby space to move and to prevent muscular problems associated with tight swaddling.

Sources: Parenting and BabySleepSite



Swaddling your newborn is a much-loved and useful technique! To swaddle is to wrap your little one up in a snugly blanket for the warmth and security they’re used to receiving in your womb. Moreover, it can help to prevent them from startling themselves or becoming overstimulated.

Make sure your baby is not hungry, wet, or tired before swaddling and always make sure not to swaddle them too tightly! This can cause pain and physical issues with their soft cartilage and joints.

To prevent improper swaddling, make sure there is enough room at the bottom of the folded blanket for your little one to bend their legs completely up and out.


We have gathered 10 quick and easy steps to help you learn to swaddle your little one! Besides helping them to feel safe and cozy, this technique may even help them to fall asleep.



  1. Position blanket into a diamond shape
  2. Fold the top corner down
  3. Lay your baby on top of the blanket, with their head above the top
  4. Pull one side of the blanket over your baby’s chest
  5. Tuck under their arm
  6. Pull the bottom of the blanket over your baby’s feet
  7. Tuck behind their shoulder
  8. Pull the remaining side of the blanket across your baby’s chest, over their arms
  9. Tuck underneath
  10. Check to make sure your baby is comfortable and your swaddling is not to tight


Generally, once your baby is about a month old, you will want to stop swaddling them while they are awake, as this can interfere with mobility. Most doctors recommend that mothers stop swaddling altogether when their little one can roll over, about the time they are 2 months old.


Make sure to always talk with your child’s doctor before swaddling and learn the safe and proper method first hand. Every baby is different and specific techniques or steps may be recommended for their safety.

I don’t typically have a fussy baby but she seems to get very cranky in the evening. Is this normal and what should I do?

Mom & BabyHaving a fussy baby in the evening is very common! Not to worry; nothing is out of the ordinary if your otherwise joyful, cooing little bundle of joy has an entirely different temperament later in the day.

Most babies are more irritable in the evenings and may want to nurse more often around that time.  That is called “bunch feeding” because your baby will be nursing every hour late in the day, but then sleeps for a four to six hour stretch.. Extra feedings does not mean your milk supply is low.

If you have a fussy baby in the evenings, try to comfort her using the 5 S’s developed by Dr. Harvey Karp.  He’s the author of the book The Happiest Baby on the Block and advocates Swinging, Swaddling, Shushing sounds, Sucking and placing baby on her Side to calm and soothe.  These S’s replicate baby’s experience in the womb, offering a sense of familiarity and security in what may seem like a great big scary world.

Evening fussiness tends to dissipate when babies are around three months old.  So hang in there and keep in mind that this difficult time is usually very short-lived.

Amy Berry
Amy is a lactation consultant and proud momma of 7 (yep seven!) wonderful children all breastfed and a Loving Moments fan!